Tim McGraw couldn’t make eye contact with his wife, fellow country music megastar Faith Hill, when he delivered a heartfelt acceptance speech at the 16th annual ACM Honors, which aired on Monday evening (September 18).
McGraw was one of the recipients of the Icon Award for his career-spanning achievements, including boosting “the popularity of the genre through their contributions in multiple facets of the industry, such as songwriting, recording, production, touring, film, television, literary works, philanthropic contributions, and other goodwill efforts,” per the Academy of Country Music. As McGraw accepted the Icon Award, Hill sat with two of the couple’s three daughters — Maggie McGraw, 25, and Audrey McGraw, 21 — in the legendary pews at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
“I’m gonna try to get through this, but I’m a weeper. Music is the universal force that brought us all together tonight... Music in particular can change a life or save a life. I know it’s probably saved mine probably more than once, and it’s tried to kill me a couple times, as well,” McGraw said, going on to thank his mother and his two sisters for their support throughout his life.
Then, the “Standing Room Only” star spotlighted his wife and daughters, though he said he “can’t look” in their direction while he spoke.
“My world changed the day I met Faith,” McGraw said. “You’re my partner in life, you’re my partner musically, and how blessed I am. I would not be where I am today without you and your grace. I love you unconditionally.”
McGraw also turned to his daughters, including his firstborn, Gracie McGraw, 26, saying that “it’s not lost on me in the least” that growing up with famous parents was a unique lifestyle growing up. McGraw is “so proud of the women you’ve become, and I love you so much.” He closed his heartfelt speech by thanking the “best fans in the world.”
Earning the Icon Award puts McGraw in good company with previous recipients, including Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, George Jones, The Judds, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and more.
Other honorees of the evening include Clint Black, BRELAND, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Charlie Cook, Charlie Daniels, Mike Dungan, Ashley Gorley, HARDY, Bill Mayne, Tim McGraw, K.T. Oslin, Chris Stapleton, and Troy Vollhoffer. The star-studded show, hosted by Carly Pearce, also included powerful performances by Breland, Chris Janson, Carly Pearce, Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood, Bailey Zimmerman, Jordan Davis, Emily Shackelton, Lady A, The War and Treaty, Brandy Clark, Anne Wilson, Priscilla Block, Billy Ray Cyrus and Firerose with Travis Denning, Lee Brice and Sara Evans.
Brett Young honored McGraw with a stunning cover of “Don’t Take The Girl,” McGraw’s iconic 1994 ballad that Young covered on his new 8-track album, Across The Sheets. Hip-hop giant Nelly also nodded to McGraw with a rendition of his early 2000s hit featuring the Icon Award recipient, “Over And Over,” and presented him with the award.
The 16th annual ACM Honors, hailed the “Country Music industry’s favorite night,” aired on Monday night on FOX. Viewers can also stream the show beginning Tuesday (September 19) on Hulu.