By: Greg Sacidor
2016 was a lot of things for country music. It was sad, it was record-breaking, it was controversial and most importantly it was uniting. From the losses of some great artists to the the coming together of others, 2016 will certainly be a year to remember for country music.
As the year comes to an end, let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories that happened in country music in 2016.
10. Nashville Cancelled, Then Given New Life
After four, rather successful seasons, the hit-television series Nashville had the plug pulled on it back in May of 2016. Rather than have the series’ then final show end with a definitive conclusion, the producers opted to go with a cliffhanger, confident that they could find the show a new home. After much social media campaigning from fans, CMT decided to pick Nashville up. In August, the network announced that it will return, beginning on January 5.
In March, one half of the country duo Joey + Rory, Joey Martin Feek, passed away at the age of 40. Feek battled cervical cancer for nearly two years, with it taking a turn for the worse in October 2015. It was then, that Feek decided to stop treatment and return home.
Throughout her entire journey, her husband and singing partner Rory documented everything through his blog.
The final post read “My wife’s greatest dream came true today. She is in Heaven. The cancer is gone, the pain has ceased and all her tears are dry. Joey is in the arms of her beloved brother Justin and using her pretty voice to sing for her savior. At 2:30 this afternoon, as we were gathered around her, holding hands and praying.. my precious bride breathed her last. And a moment later took her first breath on the other side.”
Just a month after Joey Martin Feek passed away, the country music family lost another artist…..the iconic Merle Haggard. At the age of 79, Haggard passed away in early April, after twice being hospitalized with pneumonia.
Prior to his passing, Haggard was forced to cancel a number of appearances due to his health issues.
Following his death, country music artists flocked to social media to share their thoughts on losing the country legend. Our very own Razz, even penned his thoughts on the loss of such an iconic figure. “His life as one of America’s greatest country singers is testament to one of our musical treasures” he wrote.
During the summer, country artists everywhere are on tour putting on one spectacular show after another. On one July night, Keith Urban, who was selling out shows as a part of his Ripcord World Tour, invited a fan on stage and literally handed him the guitar off of his back.
Urban then allowed the young man to perform his 2013 track “Good Thing” in front of the Gilford, New Hampshire crowd.
The moment was unlike any other and took social media by storm. Urban even took to his own Facebook page to give the fan a “massive shout out of awesomeness.”
Easily one of the most heartwarming moments of the year was when country icon Randy Travis sang a brief verse from “Amazing Grace” during his Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
What made the moment so special was that three years ago, Travis suffered a massive stroke that left him virtually unable to speak, let along sing.
5. Luke Bryan Punches Fan
The most recent story on this list happened just this month. During a charity concert, Luke Bryan was performing on stage when an angry fan decided to use obscene gestures to mock the country singer.
It was at that point, that Bryan decided to take matters into his own hands…..literally.
As he was performing his hit song “Move,” Bryan walked down off the stage and hit the fan square in the face, all while continuing his performance.
Bryan received praise from all across the country community for not allowing one unruly fan ruin his set.
Do you know which artist has more diamond-certified albums than The Beatles? The answer, Garth Brooks!
In September, Brooks’ 2007 album The Ultimate Hits reached the 10 million copies sold milestone, allowing it to become certified diamond. The Ultimate Hits became Brooks’ seventh album to achieve that incredible feat.
2016 was a good year for Brooks all around. Along with having another album go diamond, Brooks was also named the highest-earning country artist of 2016, earning a total of $70 million.
Country couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill announced back in October, that they will join forces and embark on their Soul2Soul tour come 2017.
In August 2017, the highly-anticipated tour will come to Philadelphia and the Wells Fargo Center. The tour will begin four months prior, in April, when McGraw and Hill take to the same stage in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This tour marks only the third time that the couple has ever hit the road together, with the first coming at the beginning of the century. It will also mark Hill’s first tour since 2007.
Arguably the most discussed story in all of country music this past year was when Beyoncé graced the stage at the 2016 CMA Awards. On what was the 50th anniversary of the famed awards show, Queen Bey herself took to the stage alongside the Dixie Chicks to perform her country-inspired song “Daddy Lessons.”
All four women delivered an absolutely amazing performance that night. However, while many thought the performance was just that, including one Blake Shelton, some others were not as impressed.
Before, during and after, the performance was talked about, debated and to some extent scrutinized, all making it one of the biggest stories of the year.
Two words never showed what a genre of music was about more than the words “Forever Country.” To honor the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards, over 28 of country’s past and present stars came together to record the track titled “Forever Country.”
A mix of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again,” artists from all over the genre gave their vocals to commemorate the special occasion.
Just days after the song was released, the stunning video, which featured every artist on the track, was released.
If you ever need to know where country music began, or where it is headed, all you need to do is watch this four minute video.