Merle Haggard / Facebook, Alyssa Rickels / YouTube
The audience happily cheered and as Lambert began to strum her guitar and sing the opening lyrics to “Silver Wings,” the crowd fell silent. For those of you who don’t know, Haggard is one of Lambert’s idols; she grew up listening to him and emulates him in her writing style.
Because she looked up to him so much, it meant the world to her when she was chosen to be the first ever recipient of the Merle Haggard Spirit Award at the ACM Honors in August 2016, just four months after he passed away.
Lambert put a unique spin on the song with her signature twang, but made sure she stayed true to the classic. “Silver Wings” was released in 1969 off Haggard’s album A Portrait of Merle Haggard, which was one of six albums he released that year.
Lambert sang duets with Haggard on occasion and even performed “Silver Wings” with Kris Kristofferson when Haggard was an honoree at the 33rd Kennedy Center Honors.
Lambert’s 2014 performance of “Silver Wings” will definitely not be her last. With the passing of Haggard on April 6, we expect to see at least one of his songs in her set list for years to come.
Watch the moving performance below.