BRELAND And Keith Urban Team Up For ‘Throw It Back’ Performance At ACM Honors

BRELAND is the first-ever ACM Lift Every Voice Award recipient.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

September 18, 2023


5:33 pm

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Keith Urban and BRELAND kicked off the 2023 ACM Honors with a vibrant delivery of their collaborative track, “Throw It Back.” This performance also celebrated BRELAND’s win for the first-ever ACM Lift Every Voice Award.

Collaborative Performance

Both artists took their places in the aisles of the audience before making their grand entrance on the Ryman Auditorium stage as the upbeat tune blasted through the room. Urban held the crowd captive with his epic banjo plucks while BRELAND kept the energy as he sang the party anthem that appears on his debut studio album, Cross Country.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 23: (L-R) BRELAND and Keith Urban perform 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)

While catching up with ACM on the red carpet prior to the show, BRELAND expressed his excitement for sharing the stage with Urban who also serves as a co-writer on the tune alongside Sam Sumser and Sean Small. 

“It’s actually the first song that I worked on with Keith. When he reached out to me, I had the hook and was not expecting him to want to get on this song at all and he did, and it just made perfect sense. The song has since gone gold, maybe close to platinum,” he said with a tinge of hopefulness in his voice. “We still haven’t performed it in a televised setting, so I can’t think of a better time to do it.”

ACM Lift Every Voice Award

Once they wrapped up their time on stage together, the Australian country superstar stepped up to the mic to share a few kind words about his fellow singer/songwriter before presenting him with the ACM Lift Every Voice Award.

“The first time that I heard BRELAND’s music, I was immediately intrigued, but it was when I read an interview with him online that I became fascinated with this guy. The way he spoke in this interview, how he talked about songwriting, country music, it was just so fresh, and I knew I wanted to work with him right away. So he came to my house, we wrote a song, wrote another song, we’ve been writing a ton of songs ever since,” Urban shared honestly.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 23: BRELAND accepts the Lift Every Voice 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)

He continued to praise BRELAND for his “superb songwriter,” adding that he’s confident many other songwriters in the room can also attest to the rising artist’s skills. 

“He’s the real deal, he can really sing. His energy is insane, it’s infectious, it’s contagious, he’s so inspiring to be around. But the coolest thing is, all of that stuff comes in the best package, because he’s a really, really good guy. He’s got a great heart, he makes people feel good, he’s positive, and I love it when the good guys win. He’s totally an inspiration in this industry.”

“I love what you’re doing, BRELAND and I’m so thrilled to present to you the very first ever ACM Lift Every Voice Award,” Urban added in conclusion. 

Inspirational Speech

 Next, it was BRELAND’s turn to stand in front of the packed-out venue to accept his award with an accompanying speech that was both moving and inspirational. 

“I just want to say winning this award is truly the highest honor that I’ve received in my career,” he began. “I want to first and foremost thank God for putting me on this improbable path. I want to thank my parents and my family for believing in me and supporting me. I want to thank my team and my collaborators for helping me do all of this work, every kid that demanded that their parents play ‘Don’t Touch My Truck,’ of course to the ACMs for their commitment to diversity and equity.”

He continued, “When I set out to create cross country music, a lot of people looked at me, they were like, ‘BRELAND, you’re a black dude from New Jersey, what are you doing out here,’ he said with a laugh before continuing, “I think I’ve found a home and I’m incredibly grateful to be able to accept this award on behalf of an increasingly diverse group of my peers who inspire me to keep going.”

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 23: BRELAND, winner of the Lift Every Voice Award, attends 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)

The “For What It’s Worth” singer also made it a point to acknowledge many of the artists of color who came before him and have played a role in some deep-rooted history in country music, including the railroad workers who were responsible for teaching Jimmie Rodgers to play the banjo, Rufus ‘Tee Tot’ Payne, who taught Hank Williams the blues and DeFord Bailey, who was the first black artist to make it to the Grand Ole Opry. Additionally, BRELAND gave a shout out to a few modern day artists such as Mickey Guyton, Darius Rucker, The War & Treaty and more who have followed suit in making great strides towards expanding diversity in the genre. 

“The voices of the margins in country music have never wanted anything radical, all we ever wanted was a chance to put our music out, to tour, to be played on country radio,” he said before wrapping up his speech by thanking the Academy of Country Music.

“It’s just an incredible honor and I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure I live up to it. Thank you guys so much.”

The ACM Lift Every Voice Award is presented to a Country Music artist, duo/group, industry leader or affiliate/partner who plays a pivotal role in elevating underrepresented voices throughout the Country Music genre, transcending demographics and geography. The nominee for this category is proposed by the rising leaders in the Academy’s LEVel UP: Lift Every Voice professional development and enrichment program, a two-year curriculum designed to empower participants to play a pivotal role in expanding the horizons of Country Music into new audiences that transcend demographics and geography.

BRELAND: Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM
BRELAND: 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.