Merle Haggard receives CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award

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On Tuesday evening, Merle Haggard politely accepted the first-ever CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award in Nashville. His acceptance speech was brief stating “Anything I’d say would be short remarks, so thank you very much and God bless you.” He also commented that music will live forever. Plenty of others praised Haggard at the event including Billy Bob Thornton, who revealed that Haggard will be atop the CMT All-Time Top 40, an industry countdown of the most influential musicians of all time, across genres voted by country artists. Video testimonials were also given at the event by Vince Gill, Miranda Lambert, Joe Nichols, Keith Urban and many more. Thornton also introduced a musical tribute by Eric Church, Ashley Monroe and producer T Bone Burnett, who submitted a rousing rendition of “Workin’ Man Blues,” a No. 1 single for Haggard in 1969. At the end of the music, Thornton, an Oscar-winning screenwriter went off-script. “I’d just like to add something to what they’ve got here,” Thornton said to the audience, “which is that I wouldn’t only include Merle Haggard in the greatest songwriters of all time. But I would put him up there alongside people like Tennessee Williams and William Faulker, Erskine Caldwell and John Steinbeck because he is truly a storyteller. That’s something that has been lost over the years, and I’m glad to see that it is coming back a little bit. And Merle Haggard personifies the storyteller.”

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