Before 2012 gets going too far along, let’s take a look at some major events that occurred in country music in 2011:
TOP COUNTRY AWARDS: The Academy of Country Music organization and the Country Music Association awarded the following:
• Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift (ACM, CMA).
• Best Album: Need You Now by Lady Antebellum (ACM), My Kinda Party by Jason Aldean (CMA).
• Best Single: The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert (ACM), If I Die Young by The Band Perry (CMA).
• Best Male Performer: Brad Paisley (ACM), Blake Shelton (CMA).
• Best Female Performer: Miranda Lambert (ACM, CMA).
• Best Group: Lady Antebellum (ACM, CMA).
• Best Duo: Sugarland (ACM, CMA).
SUGARLAND TRAGEDY: Speaking of the Georgia-originated duo (formerly trio), seven people were killed and another 40 injured on Aug. 13 when metal scaffolding over a stage collapsed when a storm swept through the Indiana State Fair. Sugarland was just about to take the stage.
Lead vocalist Jennifer Nettles issued a statement saying, “I am so moved; moved by the grief of those families who lost loved ones; moved by the pain of those who were injured and the fear of their families; moved by the great heroism as I watched so many brave Indianapolis fans actually run toward the stage to try and help lift and rescue those injured; moved by the quickness and organization of the emergency workers who set up the triage and tended to the injured.”
HOUSE FIRE: Country star Trace Adkins lost his 5,000-square-foot home to an afternoon fire on June 4. His daughters, at home with their nanny, and the family dog escaped the blaze in the Brentwood, Tenn., area south of Nashville. His wife was out shopping, and he was on a trip to Alaska. The fire was attributed to an overheated or loose electrical connection with a power strip in the singer’s garage.
HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY: Bill Anderson, one of the greatest songwriters in any field of music, in July marked his 50th anniversary as a cast member of the Grand Ole Opry. Anderson was born in Columbia, reared in Decatur, Ga., and scored his first songwriting success with City Lights, composed while he was living in Commerce, Ga., and working on his broadcast journalism degree at the University of Georgia.
FAREWELL TO THE STARS: Charlie Louvin (Louvin Brothers), Jan. 26, at 83; Ferlin Husky (Since You’ve Gone), March 17, at 85; Marshall Grant (bass player in Johnny Cash’s backup band The Tennessee Two), Aug. 7, at 83; Billy Grammer (Gotta Travel On), Aug. 10, at 85; Wade Mainer, Sept. 12, at 104; Johnny Wright (husband of Kitty Wells and part of Johnny & Jack), Sept. 27, at 97; Charlie Douglas (WSM radio legend and Georgia native), Nov. 24, at 78; Billie Jo Spears (Blanket on the Ground), Dec. 14, at 74.
MARRIAGES: Shania Twain to Swiss businessman Frédéric Thiébaud, Jan. 1; Kellie Pickler to songwriter Kyle Jacobs, also Jan. 1; LeAnn Rimes to actor Eddie Cibrian, April 22; Blake Shelton to Miranda Lambert, May 14; Jennifer Nettles to former model Justin Miller, Nov. 26.
SAD CLOSING IN MACON: The Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon closed June 12 because of financial and other troubles. Some of its collection has been loaned to the Augusta Museum of History.
HAPPY OPENING IN AUGUSTA: The Augusta Museum of History in late October opened its “Local Legends” exhibit and added some important new items to its James Brown exhibit.
AMERICAN IDOL: Scotty McCreery in May won the 10th season of the American Idol competition; becoming only the second country music-focused artist to win it. Carrie Underwood was the first. McCreery was on the WKXC-FM Guitar Pull in November.
LOCAL COUNTRY TRADITIONS CONTINUED: Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, the Aiken Bluegrass Festival, WKXC-FM Guitar Pull, A Day in the Country festival, Eryn Eubanks & the Family Fold Music Festival, Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Bluegrass Festival, Southern Song & Soul Series.