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Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers and others were honored Monday (Sept. 19) at the ACM Honors ceremony, held at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Joe Nichols hosted the event.
Taylor, who has had platinum-selling success in 14 countries, was honored with the Jim Reeves International Award. Taylor's Speak Now World Tour 2011 has taken the popular singer to Belgium, Singapore, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, the Philippines and Spain, and she plans to continue the tour in 2012 in Australia and New Zealand.
Keith Urban congratulated the singer via a video message. "Taylor, I want to applaud you for carrying a great light and a great spirit to people all around the world," said Keith. Accepting her award, the 21-year-old singer was equal parts thrilled and humbled, saying that touring around the world has given her a different kind of education. "I didn't go to college. All my friends were ready to and I was ready to go be an opening act for Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban. It really was an apprenticeship that happened," said Taylor. She was quick to thank her fans for supporting her world tour. "I've heard my name pronounced in so many ways I didn't think possible. This feels like something they are giving to my fans.They came to my shows and screamed so loudly. [They] gave me a chance to study something I wanted to know about which was country music."
Meanwhile, Reba was given the Career Achievement award. The recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee accepted her award from friend and sometime duet partner Ronnie Dunn, while Blake Shelton and George Strait gave congratulations via video message. "She's the only person who has had the ability to come back time and time again with a new sound or a new look," said Blake. George Strait's message was simple and sweet. "Congratulations from your old touring buddy." Clearly moved, Reba wiped away tears as she accepted the award, thanking former touring partners Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers and The Oak Ridge Boys for "putting up with me for so many years."
Garth, who was not in attendance, was given the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award; Rodney Atkins performed "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" in Garth's honor. "He influenced not just me, but everybody. He was such a force and he loves what he does. He inspires people," Rodney told CountryWeekly.com of Garth just prior to the event.
Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers were also awarded the Cliffe Stone Pioneer Award, while Thompson Square and Randy Houser performed the trio's "Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer to You)," and the Issacs performed a melody of Gatlin hits. Tom T. Hall was awarded the Poet's Award, as was Hank Cochran (posthumously). The Ryman Auditorium was awarded Venue of the Year, while the venue's manager Sally Williams was named the Promoter of the Year.