Miranda Lambert is carrying Merle Haggard’s spirit with her.
The 32-year-old singer proudly accepted the inaugural Merle Haggard Spirit Award at the ACM Honors, held August 30 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, and which aired Sept. 9 on CBS, taking a moment to pay special tribute to the fallen country legend.
"Thank you guys so much. My heroes, two of my heroes, I feel them so much tonight," Lambert said as she accepted the award. "Merle Haggard, I get to have an award with Merle Haggard's name on it, and also my name, which in incredible to me... He changed my life. He's the reason I write songs."
"Also that woman up there, Emmylou Harris, same thing," Lambert said, thanking the iconic singer who presented her with the award. "I feel so blessed to be a part of country music, more and more every single time one of these moments happens to me. But this is one of those that you kind of won’t realize until you know, a week from now, I'll probably be calling everyone saying, 'I just hung out with Emmylou Harris and received a Merle Haggard award.'"
"I can't believe it. I really can't," she concluded her speech. "I'm so thankful, and I appreciate you guys so much. Thank you."
Lambert's tribute to Haggard didn't end there. Moments after accepting her award, the "Vice" singer returned to the stage to salute the legend with a performance of "Misery and Gin."
on April 6, 2016 -- the same day as his 79th birthday -- after battling pneumonia.
ET caught up with Lambert just days before Haggard’s death at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, where she gushed about the 20-time ACM Award winner.
"You got anyone left on your bucket list?" ET's Nancy O'Dell asked Lambert. "Merle Haggard, for sure," she said of her idol.
See more in the video below.