Lady A Tributes Country Music ‘Royalty,’ Clint Black, With Flawless ACM Honors Performance

“We are so happy to be a part of this night of celebration, especially for you Clint,” Lady A’s Hillary Scott shared from the stage.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

September 18, 2023

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Lady A; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

Lady A celebrated this year’s ACM Poet’s Award recipient, Clint Black, with a powerful delivery of his ACM and CMA nominated tune, “A Bad Goodbye” at the 2023 ACM Honors event.

Stepping up to the mic, donning elegant ensembles, the country trio made up of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood expressed their pride for being tapped to join the talented lineup of performers at the 2023 ACM Honors. They also revealed they felt especially grateful for getting the chance to honor a member of “‘90s country royalty.”

“We’re Honored To Be Here”

“We are so happy to be a part of this night of celebration, especially for you Clint. We’re honored to be here,” said Hillary Scott, co-lead vocalist of Lady A. 

Lady A; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM

“A Bad Goodbye”

Then, the bright lights dimmed inside the Ryman Auditorium, setting the mood for the heartbreaking ballad that was penned solely by Black and recorded as a duet with Wynonna Judd for his 1993 album, No Time To Kill.

While Haywood plucked his acoustic guitar, Kelley took the lead, showcasing his buttery vocals before Scott joined in on a slew of seamless harmonies. 

Once the performance came to an end, the group welcomed Clint Black to the stage to claim his ACM Poet’s Award. 

Charles Kelley, Clint Black, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM
Charles Kelley, Clint Black, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM

It Makes His “Heart Swell Up”

As he began his acceptance speech during the distinguished music ceremony, the “Killin’ Time” singer admitted that he was close to tears after watching his fellow country artists get recognized throughout the night. The moment he found himself on stage to collect his own honor, Black explained he was feeling especially lucky to be part of the country music community. 

“I’m always so moved to watch each of these wonderful recipients. I just love to see people’s lives and their careers and their achievements laid out before them and see them honored. It always just makes my heart swell up.”

He continued, “Watching it happen to me, I’m very moved, almost to tears because I’m taking it all to heart.”

Clint Black; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

The energy of the sentimental moment was quickly lifted when Black’s comedic personality came to light and he said, “I’d like to say that I am very humbled to be given this award, but it wouldn’t be truthful. I’m going to think much, much more of myself now after this,” he joked, earning a round of laughter from the audience. 

“Francis Scott Key wrote ‘The National Anthem’ and was never given this award, Edgar Allan Poe, (John) Keats, never got an ACM Poet’s Award, okay? I just want to thank the ACM for putting them all in their places by omission and honoring me instead.”

Feels Honored

Black later went on to say that while he’s “never craved” earning accolades such as the ACM Poet’s Award, he always feels honored to be chosen, especially for an award that says so much about his craft. 

“The Poet’s Award speaks directly to the work and the lyrics,” he explained. “Lyrics are key in country music, as we all know. They go hand-in-hand with music of course, but what makes the connection more lasting is the poetry.”

He then prompted the crowd to imagine what it would be like if an iconic song like George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” lacked its poetic storyline. While it may still produce outstanding chords and a dreamy melody, the song would not be able to establish the same connection without the captivating narrative.

Clint Black; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM

“I Found the Rhythm in that Poetry, and I was Hooked”

Clint’s experience with poetry began in high school when he was tasked with reciting a poem of his choosing. He revealed that at the time, he chose to analyze and recall James Whitcomb Riley’s “At Ninety in the Shade,” and he will forever remember this as the moment he found his “rhythm.”

“That was that. I found the rhythm in that poetry, and I was hooked,” Clint admitted before adding, “Almost immediately I began writing my own songs, and much of them wound up where they belong, in the garbage. But two of my earliest ones not only became songs, but they would a decade later become hit songs for me – ‘Loving Blind’ and ‘State of Mind.’”

Black’s comedic spirit came back around at the end of his speech when he further revealed that his latest honor has greatly boosted his ego. 

“In order to live with myself, I have to discount that by at least 40 percent to see that my cowboy hat will still fit my head,” he said with a laugh. “This honor tonight has pushed me in that direction, but I will come back down to Earth maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, but after all too soon, after this honor, I’ll have to ask myself a question, ‘What have I written lately?’ And I pray you all will stay tuned to hear the answer,” Black said in conclusion. 

Clint Black; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM
Clint Black; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM
Lily Pearl Black, Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM
Lily Pearl Black, Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM

ACM Poet’s Award

The ACM Poet’s Award is presented to a Country Music songwriter for outstanding and longstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career, with special consideration given to a song or songs’ impact on the culture of Country Music. 

Clint Black was chosen as one of this year’s recipients as a result of his successful career which included more than three dozen chart hits, each of which he had a hand in writing or co-writing. With his catalog containing an impressive 22 No. 1 singles and 30 top 10’s, the Texas-raised artist became one of the most successful singer/songwriters of the modern era.

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.

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

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.

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.