The country crooner was overcome from the time she first took the stage at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, and she excitedly thanked the country music community for the support.
“Thank you to my peers in this room, who I respect so much, for voting for me for this,” Morris said, before sharing some love for her husband, Ryan Hurd, gushing, “Thank you for always being in the seat next to me.”
Morris began getting choked up as she then honoured the memory of the late producer, who’d worked with Morris on Girl, and shared, “I would be really remiss if I didn’t mention a huge facet of why this album sounds the way it does, and we miss him so dearly.”
The producer and renowned writer — born Michael James Ryan — died on Sept. 29, after a battle with brain cancer. He was 43.
“He texted me the morning that we got the nomination for Album of the Year this year, and we were so excited,” Morris recalled. “His wife, Jess, is here tonight, and she looks so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your husband with us once a month.”
“My heart just goes out to you and your beautiful daughters,” she shared, tearfully. “I hope that when they listen to this record — or any songs that he made, which made us all better — they know how amazing their father was.”
Morris wasn’t the only artist who paid tribute to the influential producer during the show. Blake Shelton also took some time at the end of his acceptance speech, after earning the award for Single of the Year for his song, “God’s Country”.
“I want to dedicate this to Busbee and [country singer] Earl Thomas Conley, who we lost this year,” Shelton said, holding the trophy in the air. Conley, a country music legend, died in April at the age of 77.
Following news of Busbee’s death in September, Morris took to Instagram to share a heartfelt message of mourning, alongside a snapshot of her and the producer backstage at one of her shows.
“This just doesn’t seem fair. I will always love you and the songs and albums I was lucky to make with you, Busbee. Rest well, my sweet friend,” she captioned the photo, along with a broken heart emoji.
For more on Morris, watch the video below.
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