Jason Aldean took home the prestigious ACM Artist of the Decade award during Sunday night's ceremony. The trophy was passed on to him by the honor's previous recipient, George Strait – a symbolic gesture for Aldean of Strait's influence on his own career, and the way he hopes to inspire other artists as well.
"He's the reason I wear the hat and the boots," Aldean shared with PopCulture.com and other media backstage at the ACM Awards. "He's the guy that I think we all want all to have a career like that. Everybody in country music respects him and what he's done and I think we all hope to have a career just like that and gain the respect of everybody in the country music community like he has.
"To me, he was one of my idols growing up, so to not only get that award but to have him come out and give it to me is almost like a passing of the torch kind of thing," he added. "That meant a lot to me, for sure. So it made a special night even more special for me."
Aldean took the time to thank his wife, Brittany Aldean, as well as his band and crew, many who have been with him from the very beginning. But he also wanted to thank his own peers, fellow artists who have inspired him, hopefully as much as he has inspired them.
"The biggest thing for me is I felt like there's a lot of artists in country music that have helped sort of drive it over the last 10 years," Aldean explained. "And a lot of those guys kind of that were in my class, that sort of came out when I did. And I thought if nothing else, I at least felt like they deserved an acknowledgment. I think Carrie [Underwood], Keith [Urban], Kenny [Chesney], Luke Bryan – I think those guys have done a lot over the last decade as well. And so I wanted to make sure that I at least acknowledged them.
"And then I wanted to make sure my team ... I've had a great team around me from day one," he continued. "They helped get to this point. Obviously the artists are the ones who get all of the glitz and the glamour, but there's a lot of people behind the scenes that work really hard to get us here. And so, I got a lot of them to thank. And I, unfortunately, didn't have enough time. I looked up and I saw 30 seconds and I'm like, 'Oh, I'm screwed. There's no way I can do this.'"
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2019