Cody Johnson To Honor One Of His “Biggest Heroes” At 2023 ACM Awards: “It’s A Big Deal To Me”

“We’re getting to play a Willie Nelson song,” Johnson shared, “To get to celebrate Willie’s 90th birthday and play one of his songs, it’s a big deal to me.”


Andrew Wendowski


Posted on May 10, 2023

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Willie Nelson, Cody Johnson; Photo Courtesy of Instagram

Cody Johnson will pay tribute to one of his “biggest heroes” at the 58th Academy Of Country Music Awards on Thursday, May 11.

Willie Nelson Tribute

Ahead of the 2023 ACM Awards, the country superstar revealed that he will honor the legendary Willie Nelson at the coveted awards show with a special performance.

“We’re getting to play a Willie Nelson song. I grew up on Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, so to get to celebrate Willie’s 90th birthday and play one of his songs, it’s a big deal to me,” Johnson told Audacy’s Katie & Company. “Willie’s one of my biggest heroes.”

100% Live, No Backing Tracks

He also shared that his performance will be 100% with no backing tracks.

“The biggest thing I can tell you about my performance is that it’s my band. It’s live. I pride myself on playing award shows with my band with no tracks,” Johnson added.

Johnson previously joined forces with Willie Nelson for a duet in May of 2021, which is featured on his latest album, Human: The Double Album. Together, the pair released a new version of Nelson’s “Sad Songs And Waltzes.”

“Willie was very gracious to do [the duet], and I got to have a very candid conversation with him, and it was one that meant a lot to me,” Johnson previously admitted in a press release.

YouTube video

Additionally, Cody Johnson is also up for several awards at the 2023 ACM Awards, including Single Of The Year (“‘Til You Can’t”), Song Of The Year (“‘Til You Can’t”) and Visual Media Of The Year (“‘Til You Can’t”).

Cody Johnson Recently Revealed Plans For A New Double Album, Leather

The news comes just weeks after Cody Johnson told Audacy’s KMLE Country 107.9 that he is gearing up to release a brand-new double album, titled Leather.

“I wanna go ahead and sneak peek, I’m working on a new double album,” Johnson revealed.

He went on to share that the forthcoming project will feature two dozen tracks and that he is very proud of this next batch of songs. “This round of 24 songs I have to say is the best round of songs I have ever recorded and I feel like that’s the way it should be,” the Texas native continued. “Each album should outdo the last one.”

When asked about the overall topic of the extensive new project, he replied, “There’s some fun stuff, I think the theme of this new album is fun.”

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a ballad or whether it’s tongue-in-cheek kinda fun. It all has to be fun, it all has to make you kind of want to move around and bob your head a little bit,” Cody Johnson added.

When will the double album be released? Johnson said “maybe by the end of the year, maybe next year.”

Cody Johnson; Photo Courtesy Jay Trevino Photography/Provided
Cody Johnson; Photo Courtesy Jay Trevino Photography/Provided

Duet With Carrie Underwood On The Way

The new double album is expected to feature a duet with Carrie Underwood. “I actually just recorded a duet with her yesterday for my new album coming out,” Johnson told Cody Alan during an interview CMT Hot 20 Countdown

He then went on to praise Underwood and her team. “So, getting to know her, man she’s such a pro and everybody that she surrounds herself with are all very professional as well. And I don’t mean this to sound bad, but it’s kind of hard to compete with that,” he said. 

Leather will mark the second double album of Johnson’s career, following the release of Human: The Double Album, which arrived in October of 2021 and features the chart-topping hit “‘Til You Can’t” and his current single “Human.”

2023 ACM Awards

The 58th Academy of Country Music Awards will feature performances by Jason Aldean, Jordan Davis, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Dolly Parton, Jelly Roll, Ed Sheeran, HARDY, Keith Urban, The War And Treaty, Lainey Wilson, Bailey Zimmerman and more.

Nine awards will be announced during the live broadcast.

Additionally, “Country Music’s Party Of The Year” will feature a star-studded list of collaborations and unforgettable moments. Reigning ACM Female Artist Of The Year Carly Pearce will team up with Trisha Yearwood to perform a special medley of in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Yearwood winning Female Artist Of The Year. 

Meanwhile, Cole Swindell will join forces with Jo Dee Messina to deliver an epic performance of the “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” remix and Ashley McBryde will take fans to Lindeville with a performance of “Bonfire At Tina’s.”

Gabby Barrett, BRELAND, Brandy Clark, Jordan Davis, Mickey Guyton, Tyler Hubbard, Dustin Lynch, T.J. Osborne, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, MacKenzie Porter, Dak Prescott, Emmitt Smith, Tanya Tucker, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood are scheduled to present during the ceremony.

Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton; Photo Courtesy of Art Streiber
Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton; Photo Courtesy of Art Streiber

The two-hour awards show will also stream live for a global audience across 240+ countries and territories exclusively on Prime Video and the Amazon Music channel on Twitch.

Co-hosted by country music icons Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks, the 2023 ACM Awards will broadcast live from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas at 7/6c.

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