Eric Church surprised Morgan Wallen when he appeared on The Ryman stage to present the ACM Milestone Award at the 15th Annual Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards.
After performing tributes from old Wallen friends Hardy and Ernest, who provided a variety of Wallen covers that included “Sand In My Boots,” “Wasted On You” and “More Than My Hometown,” Church took to the stage with Wallen’s ACM award in his hand.
Wallen’s face lit up when he saw his musical hero enter the stage. Church gave an honest speech that also made the audience laugh.
“It’s an honor for me, I’d like to thank the Academy. I called ACM about coming to do this, and they said ‘we want you to present this award to Morgan and we want you to tell a story’ and I said I’ve spent the past three weeks, and I can’t tell you a single story I can tell you.” In fact, Church joked.
Church, who wrote a song on Wallen’s record-breaking second album, then admitted “it’s been the honor of my career and life getting to know Morgan over the past two years,” before sharing their friendship story.
“Whether it’s on a golf cart or a fishing boat or on guitars late at night, I’ve seen him go through some stuff, I’ve seen him mature like an artist, I’ve seen him mature like a man,” Church said. “I can tell you this, we are very lucky to have him in country music.”
After paying tribute to Wallen, Church awarded him the prestigious ACM Milestone Award, which according to the Academy of Country Music, “is awarded to a country music artist, duo/group or industry pioneer for specific, unprecedented, or outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the previous calendar year.”
Then Wallen, seated in the front row of the audience with his mother Leslie and father Tommy by his side, joined Church on stage to accept the award in front of the star-studded audience.
“I had it all written down, before I knew any of this was happening,” Wallen said as Church watched from a side stand. “The first concert I ever went to was Eric Church’s concert at the Thomson Bowling Arena in Knoxville. And the man I just felt… it seemed to me like I felt what he was feeling when he was singing… I mean, you changed my life. So being here with you And presenting this to me now is more special than I can describe in words.”
You Proof went on to thank everyone on his team and everyone who encouraged him to pursue his dreams.
“You know, I can do this in front of my parents who are here tonight. Thank you guys for always supporting me,” Wallen added. “Man, thanks to everyone on my team, my friends, my friends who write songs.”
Wallen then took a moment to learn about HARDY and ERNEST’s impressive performance that celebrated several of his chart-topping songs.
“HARDY and ERN, you know… I’ve never really heard of them performing like this, so that was really special to me as well,” Wallin continued. “We’ve known each other for a long time now, wrote 100 songs together, did many things together and that was one of my favorite moments out of all the songs we had together.”
After thanking the Academy of Country Music for giving it the honour, Wallen went on to thank God and his band.
“Thank God. God and I, we have some interesting things, I think you could say,” said Wallen sarcastically. It certainly wasn’t what I was saying at all. But I am really grateful for the opportunities. You know, me and my band, thanks to my band, I think they’re here somewhere. I am really grateful for the opportunities I had, and just for everyone who made it possible, thank you guys. Most of you know who you are.”
He concluded his speech by thanking his fans.
“It’s been a great year, just to win awards, so it’s been great. The awards are great, but the real measure of my success is my fans, and I can watch every night on the road this year and for many years,” Wallen said. “So thank you guys for supporting me man, it means a lot to me. Seriously, thank everyone, I really appreciate it. God bless you, have a good night.”
The 15th Annual ACM Honors Awards were held on Wednesday, August 24th at the popular Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, hosted by Carly Pierce, ACM Female Artist of the Year.
Dubbed “The Country Music Industry’s Favorite Night”, the ACM Honors has received numerous honors, including ACM Triple Crown winner Miranda Lambert, ACM Spirit Award winner Chris Stapleton, ACM Poet’s Award winner Shania Twain, and ACM Milestone Award winner, Morgan Wallen, and ACM Film Award winner. Yellowstone.
Models and presenters include Kelsey Ballerini, Dirks Bentley, Warren Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Dunn + Shay, Eric Church, Jordan Davis, Ernst, Jesse Frasier, Vince Gill, Ashley Gurley, Mickey Guyton, Hardy, Winona Judd, Avril Lavigne, Little Big Town, Morgan Wallen, Lainey Wilson, and others.
ACM Award winner and Grammy-nominated Trace Adkins was also available to perform on his cover of “A Country Boy Can Survive,” from the new country music drama FOX MONARCH, in which he stars alongside Susan Sarandon and Anna Friel.
ACM Honors premieres Tuesday, September 13th at 8/7c on FOX. The show will be available to stream the next day on Hulu.