Bob Freeman, AP
"I loved my years in southern California," Vince shared during his acceptance speech. "They were probably the most important years I ever spent, because of what I learned. I was smart enough to take notice. I came out here in about '76, and I started seeing and hearing the greatest musicians I ever heard in my life, and they inspired me to be better. One friendship led to another friendship, and one collaboration to another collaboration, and I've been lucky enough to build a career out of just being willing to have a conversation and be musical.
"As I look back on my career, the years I spent here were really amazing," he continued. "I remember a 19-year-old kid walking these streets and looking at these stars. The truth is, it never even entered my mind that that would ever be a possibility, so I think that's probably pretty healthy."
The Oklahoma-born singer now calls Nashville home, but has fond recollections of his days on the west coast. "I was here for about eight years, I tried as hard as I could to fit in, but they still called me a tourist the whole time I lived here," he joked. "But I hold no grudge, and I'm grateful for the fact that I can call this beautiful part of the earth a home. It was a home for me for eight years, and a great home for me, and I miss it."
The music icon was joined for the ceremony by wife Amy Grant and daughter Jenny, as well as veteran producer Tony Brown and Vince's fellow Oklahoman, Reba McEntire, who congratulated her close friend from the podium.
"Twenty-some years ago we were touring together, having a blast together," Reba recalled. "I'll never forget we played the Greek Theatre here. It was during the World Series, and Vince had been out playing golf all day -- imagine that -- and made it to the show in his golf attire, and had a TV monitor on stage between the sound monitors so he could play a little bit, lean back and watch the World Series."
Vince's star, which is adjacent to his wife's, is well-earned. He has sold more than 26 million albums, amassed dozens of awards, including 20 Grammys. He's also a five-time CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
Vince will spend much of the next few months performing, both as a solo artist and as part of his Western swing group, the Time Jumpers, whose debut album will be released Tuesday (Sept. 11). Keep track of his schedule here.