There's no denying the influence that Merle Haggard had on not only country music, but the music industry as a whole. When he passed away in April, the country community took to social media to express their feelings of grief. Many stars performed emotional covers of Haggard's songs at their own shows as a tribute to him and his amazing talents.
Following Haggard's death, the Academy of Country Music decided to immortalize him in the form of a special award. Called the Merle Haggard Spirit Award, the ACMs said that the award would be given to "uncompromising artists in the spirit of Merle Haggard, while acknowledging a man who has figured prominently in ACM history."
It was eventually announced that the first recipient of the Merle Haggard Spirit Award would be none other than Miranda Lambert. Selecting Lambert as the award's first recipient seemed fitting, since she has always considered Haggard to be one of her idols.
Prior to receiving her award at the ACM Honors, which were filmed ahead of time and then aired on Friday (September 9), Lambert performed a stunning cover of Haggard's 1980 single, "Misery and Gin." In a short clip taken from the performance, Lambert can be seen standing on stage with a single guitar player.
Lambert's voice glides through each note with ease, which is what gives her performance such a beautiful quality. We're sure Haggard was looking down on her with pride.
Following her performance, Lambert accepted her award and spoke about the impact Haggard had on her career. "Merle was one of my heroes," she said "He's the reason I write songs, he changed my life so much."
Lambert's admiration for Haggard is clear as day in her performance of "Misery and Gin." You can see a portion of that performance in the clip below.