Morgan Wallen delivered a heartfelt tribute to his longtime friend, collaborator, and tour mate, HARDY, during the 15th Annual ACM Honors in Music City.
“I can honestly say that me as an artist wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for HARDY. He’s been not only a great friend but a great influence and somebody I’ve really leaned on in many ways for my career so far. I look up to him,” Wallen shared. “I’m really, really grateful that he’s in my life and man he inspires me every day and this song right here is one of my favorites and I thought it was a pretty good one to honor him. It’s called ‘A Rock.'”
Joined by his bandmates Tyler Tomlinson and Dominic Frost on acoustic guitars, Wallen took to the iconic Ryman Auditorium Stage to perform the title track off HARDY’s debut album.
The performance showcased HARDY’s impeccable songwriting skills and earned a standing ovation.
“Damn, don’t make this noise for me, make this noise for HARDY,” Wallen told the audience. “I’m very proud to present ACM Songwriter Of The Year to my best buddy, HARDY.”
They shared a hug after HARDY entered the stage.
HARDY, who paused for a moment to take it all in as Wallen handed him the coveted award, then graciously thanked his family, and members of his team for supporting him along the way.
“I said I wasn’t going to cuss but Shania [Twain] said sh-t, so holy sh-t dude,” HARDY exclaimed. ”I want to get my thank-yous out of the way, so, I want to thank my parents, who are actually here tonight, my mom and my dad. I see them up there somewhere. I came to visit my sister, who I also want to thank, who moved to Nashville before I did from Mississippi and when I came back home I had this fever, a mental fever and I told my mom and I told my mom I said I don’t know why, I’ve written two songs in my life. I said I want to move to Nashville and both my parents said okay go for it and that has always stuck with me and I could not be more grateful for you guys, so, thank you for that.”
He then shared an inspiring story about a time before he signed his record deal along with some advice for those hoping to pursue a career as a songwriter in Nashville.
“I was not expecting to tell this story tonight because I didn’t know how full-circle this moment would be, but I’m going to start the story by saying if you are a songwriter, whether you’re watching this somewhere or if you live in Nashville or you came from out of town. If you are an inspiring songwriter, I want to tell you never quit if you want to chase your dream, chase your dream and never ever quit. Don’t have a plan B, just do it til it happens and here’s why, he began.
HARDY was inspired to tell the next part of his story because fellow honoree Sonny Throckmorton was watching from the audience.
“In 2015, Sonny I did not know you were going to win this award tonight and forgive me for that and you probably don’t remember this, but in 2015 I met you in Flora-Bama. This is a true story, I did not have a pot to piss in and I met Sonny in Flora-bama and I was playing a songwriter round with a tip jar on the front of the stage,” HARDY recalled. “Sonny was the coolest guy ever. You saw us play songs, you said we were awesome blah blah blah and nobody that played on that stage that night had a hit we just played original songs and might’ve made $10 in tips, but one person wrote quit on a napkin and they put it in that tip jar and tonight that quit napkin will be sitting right beside this motherf—er.”
As he concluded his acceptance speech, HARDY proudly raised his ACM Songwriter Of The Year Award to the sky before exiting the stage.
Earlier in the show, HARDY honored Wallen with a special tribute performance alongside ERNEST, where the pair performed a medley of several of Wallen’s chart-topping hits, including “Sand In My Boots,” “Wasted On You” and “More Than My Hometown.”
Following their performance, the singer/songwriters surprised Wallen as they revealed that Eric Church was onsite to present him with the ACM Milestone Award.
Hosted by reigning ACM Female Artist of the Year, Carly Pearce, the 15th Annual ACM Honors took place on Wednesday, August 24 at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dubbed “Country Music industry’s favorite night,” ACM Honors recognized several special honorees, including ACM Triple Crown Award recipient Miranda Lambert, ACM Spirit Award recipient Chris Stapleton, ACM Poet’s Award recipient Shania Twain, ACM Milestone Award recipient Morgan Wallen and ACM Film Award recipient Yellowstone.
Performers and presenters included Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, The Warren Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Dan + Shay, Eric Church, Jordan Davis, ERNEST, Jesse Frasure, Vince Gill, Ashley Gorley, Mickey Guyton, HARDY, Wynonna Judd, Avril Lavigne, Little Big Town, Morgan Wallen, Lainey Wilson and more.
ACM Award winner and Grammy nominee Trace Adkins was also on hand to perform his cover of “A Country Boy Can Survive,” from the brand new FOX country music drama MONARCH, in which he stars alongside Susan Sarandon and Anna Friel.
ACM Honors premiered on Tuesday, September 13 at 8/7c on FOX. The show will be available to stream the following day on Hulu.