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Sturgill Simpson slams Academy of Country Music over Merle Haggard Spirit Award

By
Wade Sheridan
Country Western singer and songwriter Merle Haggard, a 2010 Kennedy Center Honoree, walks past photographers at the Kennedy Center on December 5, 2010. Following his death in April, the Academy of Country Music has created the Merle Haggard Spirit Award which country singer Sturgill Simpson has spoken out against on social media. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Country Western singer and songwriter Merle Haggard, a 2010 Kennedy Center Honoree, walks past photographers at the Kennedy Center on December 5, 2010. Following his death in April, the Academy of Country Music has created the Merle Haggard Spirit Award which country singer Sturgill Simpson has spoken out against on social media. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

NASHVILLE, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Sturgill Simpson is speaking out against the Academy of Country Music's decision to create an award in honor of country legend Merle Haggard.

"In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn't call, play, or touch him. He felt forgotten and tossed aside. I always got a sense that he wanted one last hit ... one last proper victory lap of his own, and we all know deserved it. Yet it never came. And now he's gone," Simpson wrote on Facebook Monday.

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"I'm writing this because I want to go on record and say I find it utterly disgusting the way everybody on Music Row is coming up with any reason they can to hitch their wagon to his name while knowing full and damn well what he thought about them," he continued.

"If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder [expletive] they've been pumping down rural America's throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show [expletive] and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music."

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Haggard died on his 79th birthday in April after suffering a bout of pneumonia.

The ACM announced that the Merle Haggard Spirit Award would honor artists who reflect "the uncompromising integrity and steadfastness of spirit embodied by the late Merle Haggard." Miranda Lambert was declared the first recipient of the honor causing Stimson to update his Facebook mentioning how his "words were in no way directed at her."

"I know that Merle liked and respected her so it's good to see there is at least some blue sky in all of this," Simpson wrote.

"I fully realize that as I type this, meetings and conversations are taking place on music Row to ensure I am blackballed from the industry and that's perfectly fine with me. Im not sure how you can blackball somebody you don't acknowledge in the first place anyway."

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