The memory of Merle Haggard continues to live on as the Academy of Country Music revealed a newly created award in the honor of the late country music icon. The inaugural ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, honoring uncompromising artists, will be presented at the upcoming 10th Annual ACM Honors event to an artist who has yet to be announced.

“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.”

The criteria for this new awards is comprised of the following: The ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, created this year, will be awarded to a singer-songwriter and performer whose career reflects the uncompromising integrity and steadfastness of spirit embodied by the late Merle Haggard. Beyond crafting iconic songs and delivering genuine performances, this deserving artist—like Haggard—is characterized by their singular vision in carving an indelible path in country music.

The 10th ACM Honors will take place on Tuesday, August 30 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Tickets are still available at The special event will be televised on Friday, September 9 at 9pm ET on CBS.

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