By Anthony Donatelli

The Academy of Country Music will pay homage to the late country legend Merle Haggard with a band new award at the 2016 ACM Honors: the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award.

The new award will acknowledge artists who have shown his uncompromising integrity and “singular vision in carving an indelible path in country music,” according to an official press release.

Related: Merle Haggard Movie Coming Soon

“Merle passed shortly after our 2016 awards show and after this year’s Special Awards were announced,” says ACM Board President Ken Tucker. “That said, there was simply no way the Academy could hold what may be its most heartfelt event — ACM Honors — without creating a lasting way to acknowledge his legacy. Celebrating and encouraging artists whose work echoes Merle Haggard’s indomitable spirit is beyond fitting. On behalf of the board, and with the blessing of his family, we are thrilled to create this important honor.”

Haggard was the very first artist to win Entertainer of the Year back in 1970, followed by 20 other ACM awards, including the ACM Cliffe Stone Pioneer Award and the Poet’s Award.

We will find out who the recipient of the first ever ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award is on August 30th. The awards show will air September 9th on CBS.


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