Toby Keith, a luminary in the world of country music, recently marked a significant milestone in his illustrious career. At 62 years old, he was honored as the first-ever recipient of the Country Icon Award at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards. This recognition comes as Keith looks forward to his much-anticipated return to the stage in the fall.

In a heartfelt conversation with Fox News Digital prior to the awards ceremony, Keith opened up about his current state, revealing that he’s doing “alright” following his stomach cancer diagnosis in June 2022.

He emphasized the crucial role his faith has played during these trying times, stating, “I lean on my faith, and I just pray and lean into it. You gotta’ do what you gotta’ do, and I don’t know how people do it without faith… that’s what I did, it was my rock.”

Keith, known for his deep-rooted faith, expressed optimism about resuming performances in the fall, contingent on his continued recovery. The prospect of returning to what he loves most is a beacon of hope amid his health challenges.

Receiving the Icon Award was a surreal experience for Keith, who reflected on his three decades in the industry. “Thirty years of all the songs I wrote, and they’re flashing by ya pretty quick,” he remarked. “Thirty went by pretty quick… I’m glad they’re recognizing our accomplishment.”

The award was presented to Keith by Blake Shelton, his long-time friend and fellow country music star. Keith expressed his delight in having Shelton, whom he described as an “old friend” and “kindred spirit,” present the award. Shelton, in turn, affectionately referred to Keith as his “Oklahoma brother” during the presentation.

A touching tribute video preceded Shelton’s presentation, celebrating Keith’s extraordinary journey in country music. Upon receiving the award, Keith shared a heartfelt hug with Shelton, humorously commenting on his attire, “I bet y’all never thought you would see me in skinny jeans.”

Keith took the opportunity to express his gratitude to his family, fans, and God. He then treated the audience to a performance of his song “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” showcasing the timeless talent that has made him a country music icon.

Earlier in the evening, Keith’s impact on the industry was evident, with artists like Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch lauding his influence. Lynch, particularly, referred to Keith as “one of his heroes.”

Keith’s cancer diagnosis, revealed in 2022, was a significant moment in his life. He shared on social media, “Last fall, I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation, and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover, and relax.”

Determined to spend quality time with his family and reconnect with his fans, Keith’s resilience in the face of adversity is inspiring. His dedication to helping others, particularly families dealing with cancer diagnoses, is evident in his philanthropic efforts.

In 2004, he co-founded Ally’s House, a nonprofit organization named after Allison Webb, the late daughter of one of his original band members who passed away from kidney cancer. This organization supports Oklahoma children with cancer and their families.

Building on the mission of Ally’s House, Keith established the Toby Keith Foundation in 2006, furthering his commitment to the health and happiness of pediatric cancer patients.

In summary, Toby Keith’s recent honor as the inaugural recipient of the Country Icon Award is a testament to his enduring influence in the world of country music. His journey, marked by personal challenges, faith, and philanthropy, showcases his character both as an artist and a human being.

As he looks forward to returning to the stage, his story serves as an inspiration, highlighting the power of resilience, the importance of giving back, and the enduring impact of music in our lives. Keith’s legacy extends beyond his music, as he continues to touch the lives of many through his art and his heartfelt support for those in need.