Toby Keith says he didn’t plan his speech for his Songwriter Hall of Fame induction last week, so all of the emotions and surprise moments were actually surprises for him as well. It was emotional. The singer says he had one person in mind while accepting an award he calls the highest honor.

“I dedicated the whole thing to my grandmother, who got me my first guitar,” Keith tells Taste of Country. “She always inspired me and was probably my biggest hero and a real independent woman. I dedicated the whole show to her.”

Another moment that clearly touched him was Stephen Colbert’s induction speech. While Keith knew the comedian and talk show host would be the one doing the job, he didn’t know he’d try to sing.

“He really tried,” he said during the above tour bus interview at Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colo. on Sunday (June 21). “I mean, he got up there and sang hard.”

Indeed, Colbert’s sincerity while performing "As Good As I Once Was" is surprising, even amongst the scattered jokes and gentle jabs at his good friend. Keith explained why he chose Colbert, while others being inducted had more famous singers doing the job.

“I’ve always had kind of funny songs, drinking songs, party songs, so it fit really good.”

On the “35 MPH Town” singer’s Facebook page, you’ll find several videos full of friends and celebrities congratulating Keith on the honor. He mentioned stars like Larry Bird and Sting as two that took him back. Merle Haggard, Eric Church and actress Reese Witherspoon are just a few of the others. Previously Keith said that when he gets inducted, he plans to start campaigning for Haggard and Roger Miller. Watch the video below to see his full comments on that, and on which songs he considers to be his best.

What's Toby's Most Important Song? He Says ... 

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