Billy Ray Cyrus, FIREROSE, And Travis Denning Honor The Late Charlie Daniels With Electrifying ACM Honors Performance

Billy Ray Cyrus and his fiancé FIREROSE joined forces with rising country star Travis Denning to deliver a hard-hitting performance…

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Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

September 18, 2023

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4:43 pm

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FIREROSE, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Travis Denning; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

Billy Ray Cyrus and his fiancé FIREROSE joined forces with rising country star Travis Denning to deliver a hard-hitting performance in honor of this year’s ACM Spirit Award recipient, Charlie Daniels

“Long Haired Country Boy”

The three country stars came together on stage during the 2023 ACM Honors to celebrate Daniels’ legacy that was left behind in the country music community following his 2020 passing. The trio of country stars lit up the Ryman Auditorium with their twang-filled harmonies and epic guitar riffs as they treated the crowd to their rendition of “Long Haired Country Boy.” This classic tune penned solely by Charlie Daniels was originally released as part of The Charlie Daniels Bands’ 1974 album, Fire on the Mountain and was later re-released in January 1980. Then in the 1990s, the tune’s lyrics were slightly altered to “I get up in the morning, I get down in the afternoon.” The song was not officially recorded that way until the release of The Charlie Daniels Band’s 1997 Blues Hat album.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 23: (L-R) FIREROSE, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Travis Denning perform onstage during the 16th Annual Academy of Country Music Honors at Ryman Auditorium on August 23, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for ACM)

ACM Spirit Award

Each year, the ACM Spirit Award is presented to a singer-songwriter who continues the legacy of Country Music legend Merle Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs, and epitomizing Haggard’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.  

Charlie Daniels was chosen to receive this year’s honor because he did just that with his career that earned him chart-topping hits on both pop and country radio across five decades. Additionally, in this time he racked up a slew of accolades including 20 ACM Awards in his career. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member passed away on July 6, 2020 at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tennessee. Daniels was 83 years old at the time of his death, which came as a result of a hemorrhagic stroke, according to a statement from his publicist. 

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 23: Charlie Daniels Jr. accepts an award onstage during the 16th Annual Academy of Country Music Honors at Ryman Auditorium on August 23, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM)

“I’m Sorry Dad Couldn’t Be Here To Accept This Award”

Charlie Daniels Jr. was in attendance for the 2023 ACM Honors and proudly accepted the ACM Spirit Award on behalf of his late father. After expressing his gratitude towards Cyrus, FIREROSE and Denning for their memorable tribute, the country legend’s son went on to deliver an incredibly heartfelt speech. 

“I’m sorry dad couldn’t be here to accept this award. He’s currently booked in the most glorious venue anyone could ever imagine,” he began. “Mom and dad moved to Nashville in 1967 with $20 to their name, two year old me, and the clutch out of their car. But dad always said he was living proof the Lord will give you the desires of your heart. He provided for our family with more success than dad could have ever imagined. Any of us could have imagined.”

As Daniels Jr. continued, he explained that growing up with a father who spent most of his time away on the road was without a doubt a challenge for their family. At the same time however, he understood the sacrifices Daniels was making to ensure a better life for them. 

“We missed him, but to me, he will always be the best there’s ever been. Thank you to everyone that’s ever had a part in Dad’s career. I can’t thank everyone. I don’t have time, but fans, thank you, The Academy, for giving him this award. He would be deeply honored and humbled. Mom and I miss him terribly, but we know that we will see him again someday. Thanks for our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 23: (L-R) Chelsea Daniels, Charlie Daniels Jr. and Hazel Daniels attend the 16th Annual Academy of Country Music Honors at Ryman Auditorium on August 23, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM)

“Exciting Stuff Coming Up”

Lastly, he hinted that there are some new projects are in motion that are geared towards continuing Charlie Daniels’ work in the present day and keeping his memories alive in the next generation of country music fans. 

“He left behind a legacy of patriotism, music, helping our veterans, honoring our Lord and standing up for what he believed in. My mission is to keep that legacy going for as long as possible and we got some exciting stuff coming up in the works to help further that legacy. Y’all ain’t seen nothing yet,” Daniels Jr. teased before concluding his speech. “As dad always said, ‘let’s all make the day count.’ Thank you.”

Charlie Daniels Jr.; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM
Charlie Daniels Jr.; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM

Previous recipients of the ACM Spirit Award include Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Stapleton.

This event, dubbed the “Country Music industry’s favorite night,” also marked a milestone for performers Billy Ray Cyrus and FIREROSE who made their red-carpet debut as a couple on Wednesday, August 23. 

Since their first meeting on the set of Hannah Montana, a Disney Channel series starring Billy Ray’s daughter Miley Cyrus, which launched in March 2006, the pair have continued to develop a strong bond. This led to Billy Ray and Firerose to build a lifelong friendship as they kept in touch over the years and found a common passion for music. 

Following his divorce from his now ex-wife Tish Cyrus, who is the mother of four of his children, Cyrus, 62, began dating FIREROSE, 34, and proceeded to announce their engagement in the fall of 2022. Despite their 28-year age gap, the pair have seemingly found true happiness with one another.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 23: (L-R) FIREROSE and Billy Ray Cyrus attend the 16th Annual Academy of Country Music Honors at Ryman Auditorium on August 23, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM)

2023 ACM Honors

The 16th Annual ACM Honors was filmed on Wednesday, August 23 at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dubbed “Country Music industry’s favorite night,” the 2023 ACM Honors recognized several special honorees, including Tim McGraw (ACM Icon Award), Chris Stapleton (ACM Triple Crown Award), Charlie Daniels (ACM Spirit Award), Clint Black (ACM Poet’s Award), Mary Chapin Carpenter (ACM Poet’s Award), BRELAND (ACM Lift Every Voice Award), Kane Brown (ACM International Award), HARDY (ACM Artist/Songwriter Of The Year Award) and more.

The coveted awards show also featured performances from BRELAND, Keith Urban, Lee Brice, Brandy Clark, Priscilla Block, Jordan Davis, Billy Ray Cyrus, FIREROSE, Sara Evans, Chris Janson, Lady A, Nelly, Bailey Zimmerman, Dennis Quaid, The War And Treaty, Trisha Yearwood, Brett Young as well as the show’s host Carly Pearce, among others.

Hosted By Carly Pearce

Carly Pearce; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM
Carly Pearce; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

Randy Travis, Big Kenny, Marty Stuart and Storme Warren were also on hand to present.

Carly Pearce returned as the show’s host for the third consecutive year. “The Academy of Country Music has played such a crucial role in the rise of my career in the last several years, giving me opportunities to expand my artistry with hosting,” Pearce previously shared in a statement. “To be able to come back as the host of the ACM Honors for the third year in a row, I feel so grateful and excited for what I know will be such a special night!”

ACM Honors premiered on Monday, September 18 at 8/7c on FOX. The show will also be available to stream on Hulu on Tuesday (Sept. 19).

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.