Twenty-Two Defining Moments of the Decade in Country Music

Think about an entire decade. That’s 3,650 days of possibility. And in country music, it’s been 3,650 days of very memorable moments. The kind that make history — whether they are good or bad — and paint a picture of who we were and who we’ve become.

1. 2009: Brooks & Dunn officially break up their country duo to pursue solo projects.

Rick Diamond

2. 2010: Carrie Underwood is the first woman in history to win the Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year award twice.

Ethan Miller

3. 2010: CMT launches the first-ever CMT Artists of the Year event and celebrates inaugural honorees Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift and the Zac Brown Band.

Rick Diamond

4. 2011: The stage at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis collapses right before Sugarland was about to start their show. The stage landed on the fans closest to the front, killing seven people and injuring many others.

Joey Foley

5. 2011: Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” wins a record-breaking five Grammy Awards.

Dan MacMedan

6. 2012: Florida Georgia Line quietly release “Cruise” to iTunes and sets in motion a whole new kind of country sound that receives a warm welcome from a new crop of fans.

Taylor Hill

7. 2013: Carrie Underwood takes over for Faith Hill as the singer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football theme song with her “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night.”

8. 2013: Blake Shelton and Ray Price get into a social media fight after Shelton claims, “Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music.”

Paul Zimmerman

9. 2013: The classification of bro-country is born when New York Times music critic Jody Rosen coins the phrase.

Rick Diamond

10. 2014: Taylor Swift officially bids adieu to country and heads straight for pop music.


11. 2014: Garth Brooks comes out of retirement for a full-fledged World Tour, kicking off three years of shows with an opening night in Chicago.

Daniel Boczarski

12. 2015: Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert shock fans with their divorce.

Kevin Mazur

13. 2015: Radio consultant Keith Hill tells Country Aircheck that female country artists are merely the tomato garnish in a salad of male artists. Female artists everywhere unite to prove him wrong.

Jason Kempin

14. 2016: The Dixie Chicks head out on their first North American tour in ten years.

Kevin Mazur

15. 2016: Dolly Parton announces plans for her first major tour in 25 years.

16. 2017: The shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas kills 58 during the very beginning of Jason Aldean’s headlining set.

17. 2017: Taylor Swift sues and wins a case against a radio host for sexually assaulting her at an event. She is named one of Time’s Silence Breakers.

Theo Stroomer

18. 2018: Miranda Lambert becomes the most-awarded artist in the history of the ACM Awards.

Ethan Miller

19. 2018: Luke Combs releases what becomes the unofficial song of the decade. His “Beautiful Crazy” was at No. 1 for seven weeks.

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

20. 2019: Kacey Musgraves wins the all-genre Grammy for album of the year for her Golden Hour. It’s very rare for a mainstream country album to win: Swift won it in 2010, the Dixie Chicks in 2007 and Glen Campbell in 1969. His was the first country album to win in the category.

Dan MacMedan

21. 2019: Filmmaker Ken Burns takes on country music and wins with his Country Music eight-part documentary on PBS.

Steven Ferdman

22. 2019: Kelsea Ballerini is invited to become the youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry.

John Shearer
Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.