The country music world was literally all over the place in 2019. There were new marriages, records set, tragedies and even one song that embraced both country and rap. Wonderwall.com is looking back at the biggest country music moments of the year, starting with Miranda Lambert's surprise January marriage to New York City police officer Brendan McLoughlin. Just after Valentine's Day, the country superstar announced on Instagram that she'd secretly tied the knot. "In honor of Valentine's Day I wanted to share some news," she wrote. "I met the love of my life. And we got hitched! My heart is full. Thank you Brendan Mcloughlin for loving me for…. me. ❤️#theone." In April, she and her husband made their red carpet debut at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Oh yeah, she also released her seventh studio album, "Wildcard," on Nov. 1.
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Carrie Underwood and retired hockey star Mike Fisher welcomed their second child, a son, on Jan. 21. The country singer took to Twitter to announce the news, sharing several images of her newborn. "Jacob Bryan Fisher entered the world in the wee hours of the morning on Monday…his mom, dad and big brother couldn't be happier for God to trust them with taking care of this little miracle!" she tweeted. "Our hearts are full, our eyes are tired and our lives are forever changed. Life is good." Carrie didn't waste any time returning to the road, kicking off her "Cry Pretty Tour 360" concert trek on May 1 and wrapping it up on Oct. 31.
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Was it country or was it rap? What, exactly, was "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X? That was the debate. The song featured country-friendly (albeit somewhat stereotypical) lyrics, but it was set to a tune that sampled Nine Inch Nails and was more linked with hip hop. In March, the song debuted at No. 19 on the country charts, but Billboard removed it a week later claiming it didn't contain enough elements of a typical country song. That was widely controversial. Then, Lil Nas X released a remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. To be fair, the controversy helped build buzz, and the rapper got the last laugh. The song was inescapable during 2019, becoming the longest reigning No. 1 hit in the 61-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 — it was the top song in the country for nearly five months! By late October, the song had reached Diamond status after moving 10 million certified units, doing it faster than any other track.
Cleaning up! Kacey Musgraves became the undisputed darling of country music this year when she crushed the 2019 Grammys. The singer-songwriter went four-for-four during music's biggest night, winning Grammys for best country solo performance (for "Butterflies"), best country album (for "Golden Hour"), best country song (for "Space Cowboy") and — the big one — album of the year. She also performed on the Grammys stage. As expected, Kacey also won album of the year and female vocalist of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in April. She also scored female vocalist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards in November. 2019 will go down in history as Kacey's year.
Keith Urban was always the proverbial bridesmaid. The Australian country music singer had been nominated for the Academy of Country Music's entertainer of the year prize eight times, all of them ending with him watching someone else raise the award. Finally, in 2019, it was Keith's turn. On his ninth nomination, he scored the big win. Naturally, he was emotional afterward. "I've been nominated nine times and at some point I came to terms and accepted that the nomination is the award," he told reporters after the win. "I don't know how things go that way sometimes. I love what I get to do and put everything into it, and I know all the others do to, so thank you, God. Really."
Granger Smith and wife Amber suffered an unthinkable tragedy in June: Their 3-year-old son, River, drowned in the family pool. "The whole thing took roughly 30 seconds," the heartbroken singer said afterward. In a YouTube video, Granger explained that he'd been outside doing gymnastics with daughter London, 7, as River and their other son, Lincoln, 5, were having a water gun fight. Somehow, River got past the gate surrounding the pool and went into the water. Granger and his wife administered CPR and River was rushed to the hospital, but neurosurgeons eventually told them that River had a zero percent chance of brain recovery. The couple donated River's organs and chronicled their grief and healing on social media in the months that followed.
Maren Morris had a massive 2019, but her biggest announcement came on Oct. 22: She took to Instagram to reveal that she's pregnant and expecting a boy with her husband, singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd. "The irony is just too rich that after a year of living in the 'GIRL' headspace, the universe would give us a baby boy to even things out," she captioned a snap on Instagram. "See you in 2020, little one." Maren has been a rising name in country for a few years, but she took the genre by storm this year, releasing her sophomore album, "GIRL," in the spring to both critical and commercial success. How successful was it? "GIRL" broke the record for the largest streaming week for a country studio album by a woman, garnering 24 million streams in its debut week. She also headlined her own tour and was also a part of Miranda Lambert's all-female "Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars" tour. And then, somewhere in there, she teamed up with Hozier for a new rendition of her single "The Bones." Oh yeah, she also formed a supergroup with Brandi Carlile and Amanda Shires called The Highwomen.
It's Luke Combs' world. We're just living in it. In August, the rising superstar's "Beer Never Broke My Heart" hit the top spot on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, becoming his sixth consecutive single to do so. And guess what — that's never happened before. The record-setting run spans three years, dating back to his 2016 debut single "Hurricane."
Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles made a major statement at the 53rd Annual Country Music Association Awards in Nashville in November when she arrived on the red carpet in a custom suit and cape ensemble by Christian Siriano with "Play our f*@#in records please and thank you" written on the inside by artist Alice Mizrachi ("Equal play" and an illustration of a woman were on the back). She told media backstage that she wanted "to push a subversive [message] in a more cheeky way" at the CMA Awards, which this year featured a theme meant to celebrate women (though a man, Garth Brooks, won the coveted entertainer of the year prize, sparking backlash on social media), and keep people talking about the disparity between male and female artists on country radio. "When I learned that the CMAs tonight were going to be celebrating women, and the hostesses were three women, I thought, 'What a fantastic opportunity to continue the conversation,'" Jennifer explained.
Brett Young is a first-time dad. The country star and his wife, Taylor, welcomed their first child on Oct. 21, daughter Presley Elizabeth. The "Here Tonight" singer announced the news on Instagram and shared a sweet image of his family. "Taylor, my wife. You are a superhero," he wrote. "Your beauty and strength never cease to amaze me. You brought our beautiful girl into this world with a level of grace and quiet confidence that I never knew existed. I'm so impressed by and proud of you. Thank you for this incredible gift. I could not love you more!" He also shared a message for his newborn daughter. "My daughter, Baby P, you're perfect. I am so head over heels in love with you I can't even explain it. My world is forever changed because God gave you to me. I'm going to do so many things wrong, but I promise to never stop trying, or learning, or loving you as fiercely as is humanly possible. You are my angel, and I will never take for granted the beautiful gift God has given me in trusting me with you. I will always be your rock and your safe place. I am so proud to be your daddy and I am quite certainly the luckiest boy in the world. (Side note, no boys til you're 30)."
A member of Josh Turner's tour crew was killed in Central California on Sept. 18 following a tragic tour bus accident. Seven others were injured. KSBY News reported that the bus carrying the road crew — Josh and the band were in another vehicle — drove through 20 yards of vegetation and hit a riverbed. It launched off an 80-foot cliff and landed in sand. The cause of the crash isn't known, but authorities ruled out drugs or alcohol. David Turner, who was not related to the singer and worked as the country music star's sound engineer for almost 14 years, was later reported to have died. "As I try to write this I don't know what to say. It's a struggle to put into words the devastation and grief that our road family is trying to process. We lost a beloved member of our team, David Turner," Josh said in a statement. "He was like a brother to so many in this industry and a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Please continue to keep David's family in your prayers. All of our crew suffered significant injuries and many have long roads to recovery."
Kane Brown's drummer, Kenny Dixon, died in October in a car accident in Tennessee. He was 27. Authorities said Kenny's vehicle was traveling at a "high rate of speed" when it exited off a highway and struck a tree. After Kenny's death, Kane posted a photo of himself and Kenny on Instagram. "Love you so much dude!!!" he wrote. "You started all of this with me from the start in 2015 when nobody else believed we would make it out of Chattanooga playing for 500 people and your last show was in a Fn Stadium my guy. I know u will be watching over us with that red neck accent that we all love and you will never be replaced bro!!! I promise u that!!"
Carrie Underwood isn't the only country music star who added to her family in 2019… Kane Brown's wife Katelyn Jae gave birth to their first child, daughter Kingsley Rose, on Oct. 29… Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and wife Hayley welcomed their second child, son Luca Reed, on Aug. 19… Jason Aldean and wife Brittany Kerr had daughter Navy Rome on Feb. 4… Brantley Gilbert's wife, Amber, gave birth to daughter Braylen Hendrix on Sept. 9… Sammy Kershaw and girlfriend Mendy Gregory welcomed daughter Natelia Mae on Sept. 11… Rodney Atkins' wife, Rose Falcon, delivered son Scout Falcon on Aug. 26… Morgane Stapleton announced on Mother's Day that she and husband Chris Stapleton had recently welcomed their fifth child, a boy. Jake Owen and girlfriend Erica Hartlein had daughter Paris Hartley on April 29… Randy Houser and wife Tatiana welcomed their first baby together on June 9, son Huckleberry Randolph… Margot Price, who was up for best new artist at the 2019 Grammys, and husband Jeremy Ivey had daughter Ramona Lynn on June 4… Pistol Annies singer Angaleena Presley and producer husband Jordan Powell welcomed daughter Phoenix Joeleena Jean on Jan. 22… Midland's Jess Carson and wife Camille welcomed their third child, daughter Rosalia Jean, on March 27… Cody Webb and wife Hayley had their first baby, daughter Josie Layne, on April 14.
Rising country stars Michael Ray and Carly Pearce tied the knot on Oct. 6 in Nashville. It would be nice to say the wedding went off without a hitch, but that wouldn't be the case. You see, the wedding was supposed to be outdoors, but the heavens opened up that morning, forcing the ceremony into a barn. "Honestly, it was more magical and way more romantic than I think it would have been outside," Carly told People magazine. Michael added, "The rain actually enhanced it, I think. It was an old barn from the 1850s, and we had all our family there, and with the rain falling, it made it a little more magical." The couple kept the guest list very small, with Lindsay Ell and Jake Owen being the most recognizable names there (Jake also sang for the couple's first dance).
Several other country music stars tied the knot in 2019 too, including Maddie & Tae's Maddie Marlow, who wed high school sweetheart Jonah Font in Arrington, Tennessee, on Nov. 22… Chris Lane and former "The Bachelor" winner Lauren Bushnell married in Nashville in a "secret garden"-themed ceremony on Oct. 25… Trace Adkins wed Canadian actress Victoria Pratt (pictured) in New Orleans on Oct. 12 — and Blake Shelton officiated… Singer Tyler Rich wed "L.A.'s Finest" actress Sabina Gadecki at Saddle Woods Farm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Sept. 20… Rachel Wammack married love of two years Noah Purcell at the Cypress Lakes Country Club in her hometown of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on Aug. 3… Chuck Wicks married Kasi Williams — whose brother is country music star Jason Aldean — at the Cabo Azul Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on July 12.
Country music singer Earl Thomas Conley died on April 10. He was 77. His death hit country superstar Blake Shelton particularly hard. "My heart is absolutely destroyed today," Blake — who announced the sad news on social media — wrote alongside a photo of them together (Earl co-wrote Blake's 2001 track "All Over Me"). "Earl was my all time favorite singer, hero and my friend. Prayers to his family. We will all miss you deeply my brother. Now go rest…." Earl's brother confirmed that the musician, who was known for hits including "Holding Her and Loving You," "What'd You Say" and "Right From the Start," had a condition similar to dementia and was in hospice care before his death.