Trace Adkins gave an impressive cover of a popular Toby Keith hit in honor of the country superstar.
The three-time ACM Award winner covered Keith’s sixteenth No. 1 single “Love Me If You Can” on Wednesday (Aug. 25) during the ACM Honors award ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee at The Ryman Auditorium.
“The Merle Haggard Spirit award goes to a singer/songwriter who follows their own path. They craft great songs and they carry on Merle’s spirit with their performances and storytelling. Our honoree tonight is my old friend Toby Keith,” Adkins said with a smile on his face. “And all those things that I’ve mentioned before, well Toby has done just that. This twenty-time ACM Award winner has always paved his own path an artist, songwriter, musician and producer.”
Adkins continued, “the first time I ever toured with Toby, he said to me one night, he said ‘man you’re going to do something cool’ and I said ‘yeah,’ always. He said ‘come on out on stage with me tonight for my encore,’ so I went out on stage with Toby and did the ‘Angry American’ with him in front of that audience and it was the most energetic audience ever… I mean the energy, it was like static electricity in the air. I’ve never experienced anything like that before and I’ll always be grateful to him for sharing that with me and letting me get out there and experience that. It was an incredible thing, I’ve never experienced anything like it. So tonight, let’s celebrate the unique and many talents of Mr. Toby Keith.”
Watch Adkins’ cover of “Love Me If You Can” below.
— ACM Awards (@ACMawards) August 26, 2021
“Toby couldn’t be here to tonight to get his trophy, so I ain’t gonna give the damn thing to him,” Adkins joked after his performance. “But he wants to thank y’all anyway.”
Keith’s voice then played across the speakers of The Ryman to thank fans for the award.
“I’m honored to receive the Merle Haggard award. Merle was a cosmic artist, he had all the tools,” Keith said upon virtually accepting the coveted award. “He had the sound, the name, the style. One of the greatest songwriters in American music and one of the greatest country voices ever.”
Keith then recalled some memories with the late Merle Haggard, who he got to know pretty well over the course of his career.
“He took me under his wing when I was young. We shared many hours on a guitar on his bus, we talked on the phone a lot, he gave me years of advice. When you grow up in the business of your heroes and your mentors, you want them to be big as life and hope that it turns out great and Merle was that and more to me. He was exactly what I figured he would be. We’ve cut each others songs, we sang together, had so much fun, but I was on the stage with him the last time before he passed away and I will cherish those memories the rest of my life. Getting to sing with him that night. So, thank you for this award.”
“Love Me If You Can” was co-written by Chris Wallin and Craig Wiseman and was released in June 2007 as the second single from Keith’s album, Big Dog Daddy. The single has since become his thirty fourth Top 10 single and his sixteenth No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The single also marked Keith’s first Billboard No. 1 since he launched his own label, Show Dog Nashville, in 2005.
Hosted by Carly Pearce, the 2021 ACM Honors also featured performances by Chris Janson, Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, Chris Janson and many others.