Lady Antebellum was the hot country act of 2009

Associated Press
Lady Antebellum performs at the Allstate Fan Fest in New Orleans. The band won the Country Music Association's Vocal Group of the Year award.

Before 2009 gets too far gone, let's take a look at some highlights of the past year in country, bluegrass and gospel music:

STILL GETTING HOTTER: Could it have been a better year for Augusta-area musicians Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood and their Lady Antebellum trio partner Hillary Scott?

Not only did they continue to rack up hit singles off their multimillion-selling album, they also won the Country Music Association's Vocal Group of the Year award, beating out six-time consecutive winner Rascal Flatts.

Lady Antebellum's second CD, Need You Now , is due for release Jan. 26. The second single off the CD, American Honey , should be out Monday.

OTHER HOT ACTS: Among other hot country acts in 2009 were Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood, Sugarland, Dailey & Vincent, Jason Michael Carroll, Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney.

IDIOT OF THE YEAR: That would be rapper Kanye West, who managed to tick off just about everybody at the MTV Video Music Awards in September. He stormed up on stage during the live telecast and took the microphone award away from surprised Taylor Swift, who had just won the Best Female Video award. He then said, "I'm sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time."

POOR BEYONCE: The classy lady looked embarrassed and stunned.

Later in the program when Beyonce won the Video of the Year award, she told the audience about her first VMA win as a 17-year-old with Destiny's Child and how much it meant to her. She then called Miss Swift from backstage to huge applause and gave her another chance to say thanks.

GOODBYE: The Lewis Family bluegrass-gospel group of Lincolnton, Ga., ended its long run of 50-plus years in 2009. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn also are ending their long duo relationship in 2010 with a 47-city tour beginning April 23 in Sacramento, Calif., and ending Aug. 8 in Chicago. The closest area city booking seems to be Atlanta on July 15.

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 38 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or don.rhodes@morris.com.

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