2016 was definitely one for the record books! A return of Garth Brooks, Gwen Stefani writing a country song, “American Idol” turning out one more country artist before shutting it down, and one TV show based in country music’s capital almost shut down….but not quite, were just a few of the things that happened to country music in the roller coaster year that was 2016.
The Return of Garth Brooks: Garth continued his World Tour, even bringing it to the Honda Center in Anaheim (his first time at that venue in over twenty years). In November, he released his new album Gunslinger and a holiday album of duets with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, called Christmas Together, and won the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award.
The Final Season of “American Idol”: The iconic reality singing competition show presented us with one more promising country artist before leaving Hollywood: Trent Harmon, whose debut single “There’s a Girl” is currently climbing the charts.
“Nashville” Is Cancelled, Then Finds a New Home: Callie Khouri’s TV drama focused on the lives of fictional country artists, their families, and music business professionals, was cancelled by ABC after four seasons. However, after an outcry from fans, it was picked up by CMT, which will begin airing the fifth season in January 2017. Good thing – because we would miss Rayna Jaymes WAY too much!
The Women Lead in Grammy Nominations: With both Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris in the running for the all-genre New Artist of the Year, and female artists taking four out of the five slots for Best Country Solo Performance, it’s clear that 2016 was a big year for the ladies. In addition to Kelsea and Maren, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, and Lori McKenna are also up for multiple awards.
Forever Country: In honor of the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards, thirty country artists got together for a spectacular medley that included John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”
Jana Kramer Puts on Her Dancing Shoes: After separating from husband Mike Caussin in August, Jana finished 2016 as a contestant on the 23rd season of “Dancing with the Stars.” Despite several perfect scores from the judges over the course of the competition and making it to the finals, Jana eventually placed fourth.
Rachel Reinhart Leaves Gloriana: In January, Rachel Reinhart announced she was leaving the trio Gloriana, the quartet formerly rounded out by Cheyenne Kimball until her departure five years earlier. Rachel reportedly was going to pursue a career as a solo artist.
2016: Perhaps the worst thing to happen to country music in 2016 was 2016 itself! Celebrity deaths were unfortunately abundant this year, and country music suffered its share of the brutality. A list of some of the most notable stars we lost is here.