Year in Review: 10 Most Memorable Stories of 2016

As we put the finishing touches on 2016, we're taking a look back at this year's most memorable moments. 

Written by Chuck Dauphin
Year in Review: 10 Most Memorable Stories of 2016
Pictured: Carrie Underwood, Randy Travis, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Merle Haggard

As we put the finishing touches on 2016, we’re taking a look back at this year’s most memorable moments.

From exciting new artists to emotional farewells, to highly-talked about tours and emotional songs about new love and love lost, the past year offered a little something for everyone.

Here are the 10 most memorable stories of 2016…

The Rise Of Women – Whether it be the airplay and sales of Maren Morris or the critical acclaim afforded to Brandy Clark or Margo Price, the role of women in the industry took a giant leap forward in 2016 with many of the best releases in the format.

Carrie Underwood, The Storyteller Era – One female artist whose profile stayed exceedingly high in 2016 was Carrie Underwood. The superstar gave fans one of the most energetic and stylish tours to hit Country Music in quite some time. Hopefully, voters of the upcoming ACM Awards will take note!

Dolly Parton – Long before Carrie or Miranda Lambert dominated the scenes, Dolly Parton was topping the Country and Pop charts. 2016 saw this trend continue with her number one disc Pure & Simple. She also dazzled in the accompanying tour for the album, and oversaw the making of another popular NBC-TV movie. As if that wasn’t enough, Parton ended the year doing what she does so well – giving – with her pledges to help those affected by the East Tennessee fires this fall. She’s one of a kind, and we’re glad she’s ours!

Merle Haggard, 1937-2016: No Country artist ever took their final bow on their birthday. Merle Haggard, the “Poet of the Common Man,” passed away on the morning of his 79th birthday, leaving behind millions of fans – and inspiring countless tributes along the way.

The CMA Awards Celebrates A Golden Anniversary: Country Music’s biggest night of the year proved to be one of its’ most memorable, with a star-studded awards show in November that brought out almost every major performer who tallied awards during that time span, and yes, even a little bit of controversy with the Beyonce / Dixie Chicks performance!

Nashville Gets The Axe…..But Then, A Reprieve: Many inside the industry were surprised by the ABC decision to cancel Nashville, which is essentially an hour-long advertisement for the city (though, seeing as the highest rank it had ever had for the season was No.54, they shouldn’t have been). But CMT lifted the show’s fans when they announced the decision to pick up the series for a fifth season, which begins in just a few weeks!

Tim McGraw, What A Year: It’s rare that an artist who has been releasing music as long as he has continued to make news, but Tim McGraw released one of the most-played songs of the year in the Lori McKenna masterpiece “Humble and Kind,” and collaborated with Florida Georgia Line on a chart-topping song. Look for him to flex his acting muscle on the big screen in 2017 with his role in the upcoming film, The Shack!

A Season For Giving……Christmas Music: For whatever reason, this seemed to be the year of the holiday album. Artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Brett Eldredge, and Rascal Flatts each released their initial forays into the season, while Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn also returned to make merry. The Oak Ridge Boys made a little history, as well, as the Country Music Hall of Famers released their seventh holiday platter.

The Return of Randy Travis: Since suffering a debilitating stroke in 2013, public appearances have been few for the legendary Randy Travis. But, he resurfaced in the spring to be announced as an incoming member of the Country Music Hall of Fame alongside of Charlie Daniels and Fred Foster. In the fall, he attended the Medallion Ceremony and brought the crowd to tears with “Amazing Grace.” Later, he appeared on the CMA Awards where he performed the final line of his classic “Forever & Ever, Amen.” A true medical miracle, don’t be surprised if we don’t see (and hear) more from Travis in 2017 – and beyond.

Their Side(s) Of The Story: After going through a media storm with their 2015 divorce – and subsequent new relationships, fans seemingly hung on every word of the first post-breakup discs from Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. Neither addressed any lyrical references directly, preferring to let the songs speak for themselves!