Chris Janson Talks 2023 ACM Honors: From Honoring Charlie Cook To Meeting Bailey Zimmerman & Marty Stuart

Hosted by Carly Pearce, the 2023 ACM Honors will premiere on Monday, September 18 at 8/7c on FOX.

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Nicole Palsa

Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Nicole has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.

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Posted on September 17, 2023

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Chris Janson; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

The 16th Academy of Country Music Honors, an all-star event dedicated to celebrating special award honorees, off-camera category winners, and ACM Industry and Studio Recording Awards, will air Monday, September 18 at 8/7c on FOX.  Originally held on Wednesday, August 23 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, one of the evening’s performers and presenters was former ACM Award winner Chris Janson, who presented the ACM Service Award to country radio executive Charlie Cook.

Kelly Lynn Janson, Chris Janson; Photo Courtesy of Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM
Kelly Lynn Janson, Chris Janson; Photo Courtesy of Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM

Honored Country Radio Executive Charlie Cook

The honoree asked Janson to perform “Good Vibes” for the occasion. “I was in the middle of bass fishing actually when he hit me up about it,” Janson tells Music Mayhem. “I took that as a great honor myself to be able to honor my friend.”

Janson met Cook during the early days of his career at a radio station visit. Reflecting on their friendship, Janson shared why he felt Cook was deserving of the special recognition.

“Well, he’s a wonderful person, number one. Number two, he volunteers a lot of his personal time for whether it be [ACM] Lifting Lives or the board or just the Academy [of Country Music] in general. And he’s a happy face and he’s a music man. I mean, he is single-handedly responsible for being a very strong force behind 99% of all of our careers whom have been blessed enough to be on the radio and have hits. So I really appreciate him for that. And he’s just a good, honest, good character kind of guy.”

Charlie Cook, Chris Janson; Photo Courtesy of Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM
Charlie Cook, Chris Janson; Photo Courtesy of Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for ACM

Performed “Good Vibes” In Charlie Cook’s Honor

In addition to being an award-winning disc jockey and a former Chairman, President, and Radio Committee Chair of the Academy of Country Music’s Board of Directors, Cook still serves as the longest-serving ACM Board Member in Academy history. Cook was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2011 and currently serves as Vice President of Country Music, Programming Operations Manager for Cumulus Nashville’s five-station cluster, and Program Director for WSM-FM and WKDF-FM. 

Janson hopes that fans will feel happiness and joy after watching his performance honoring Cook. Ironically, he didn’t realize how impactful “Good Vibes” would be when he first wrote it. “I didn’t think much of it,” Janson admits.

“But golly, it’s really morphed into something so much more special. I mean, I see that it really touches people’s hearts and lives out there on the road, and it’s just sort of a life-changing song like that. I mean, no pun intended. It really brings happiness and good vibes to people. And I didn’t realize it at the beginning. I don’t think I’ve ever realized it about any of my songs, maybe what they’re doing in the beginning. But after you live with them for a while, you sort of realize the real purpose behind them. And that song is one of the more happier ones that’s in my set. It’s just a good time to reflect on how blessed we are.”

Chris Janson; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM
Chris Janson; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM

“I Finally Got To Meet Marty Stuart”

The annual gathering of the country music industry’s brightest stars was also an opportunity for artists to reconnect or even meet for the first time, which was the case for Janson this year.

“I finally got to meet Marty Stuart officially,” Janson shared, revealing they confirmed he’ll join Stuart at his Late Night Jam next year.

“I’ve always wanted to be friends with him because we both collect country music memorabilia. And of course my wife and I loved Connie, his wife Smith, and she’s been a long time friend of ours, but I just never made the connection with Marty and finally got to do it.” The pair met in the staircase of the historic Ryman Auditorium, which Janson called “totally badass.”

Met Bailey Zimmerman For The First Time

Chris Janson also met newcomer Bailey Zimmerman for the first time that night, which “humbled” his heart.

“I was walking through with Kelly backstage and this hand sticks out in front of me and stops me and says, ‘Whoa, Chris Janson, you’re a fu**ing legend!’ So I said, ‘What the hell?’” laughing at the memory. “We became fast friends and he’s a nice guy. And yeah, that was probably my favorite highlight of the night. I enjoyed that. And it was really fun and funny. And we have a lot of mutual friends, of course, because his management team is involved with Nickelback, who are longtime friends of mine anyway, so there was some great comradery there and I really enjoyed meeting him.”

Chris Janson, Bailey Zimmerman; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for ACM
Chris Janson, Bailey Zimmerman; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for ACM

2023 ACM Honors

The star-studded event, dubbed the “Country Music industry’s favorite night,” will recognize several other special honorees, including ACM Triple Crown Award recipient Chris Stapleton, ACM Poet’s Award recipients Clint Black, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and K.T. Oslin, ACM international Award recipient Kane Brown, and ACM Icon Award recipient Tim McGraw. 

For the third year, four-time ACM Award winner Carly Pearce returns to host the ceremony. Audiences will see additional performances from iconic country music artists, including ACM Lift Every Voice Award recipient BRELAND, 12-time ACM Award-winning trio Lady A, 15-time ACM Award winner and 2018 ACM Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban, three-time ACM Award winner Trisha Yearwood, four-time ACM Award nominee Brandy Clark, eight-time ACM Award nominee Jordan Davis, ACM Award nominated duo The War And Treaty, ACM Award nominee Bailey Zimmerman, as well as Emily Shackelton, Anne Wilson, and more.

The 16th Academy of Country Music will premiere on Monday, Sept. 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

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Written by

Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Nicole has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.

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