A few highlights from 2009, plus a preview of what to look forward to in 2010
By the CountryMusicOnline.net staff

2009 HIGHLIGHTS:                 Added: JANUARY 8, 2010


Keith UrbanDefying Gravity: 171,525 copies
George Strait Twang: 155,000 copies
Brad PaisleyAmerican Saturday Night: 129,000+ copies
Jason AldeanWide Open: 108,960 copies
Reba McEntireKeep On Loving You: 96,000 copies
SugarlandLive On The Inside CD/DVD: 75,000 copies
Dierks BentleyFeel That Fire: 71,000 copies
Miranda LambertRevolution: 65,875 copies


• Taylor Swift embarked on her first headlining tour in 2009.  The Fearless Tour included opening acts Kellie Pickler and Gloriana. In 6 months, Taylor, Kellie and Gloriana visited 52 cities.

• In February 2009, Swift’s hit “Love Story” topped the Mainstream Top 40 chart – the first time a country song has topped that chart.  Swift followed up with “You Belong With Me” and this song also hit #1 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. 

• Forbes ranked Swift as the 69th-most powerful celebrity in 2009.  Swift’s earnings were reportedly $18 million.

• Billboard Magazine named Swift as the Artist of the Year for 2009.

• Swift picked up 5 awards at the 2009 American Music Awards:  Artist of The Year, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, Favorite Country Female Artist, Favorite Country Album for "Fearless", and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.

• Swift is nominated for several awards at the 2010 Grammy Awards:  Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "You Belong with Me", Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song for "White Horse", Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "Breathe", and Album of the Year and Best Country Album for "Fearless”.  Taylor will also perform at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, which air live on CBS on January 31, 2010.

• In 2010, Swift will continue her Fearless Tour for 37 more dates in North America.

• Taylor Swift will make her debut on the big screen on February 12, 2010, when Valentine’s Day is released. 

• Swift released her new single “Fearless” this week (January 2010).  “Fearless” is the 5th release from her album Fearless.

• On January 8, 2010, Nielsen Soundscan announced that Taylor Swift is the top-selling digital artist in history, having sold over 24.3 million digital tracks.

• Also, announced on January 8, 2010 – Swift’s album Fearless was the top-selling album in 2009, with sales exceeding 3.2 million copies.  Swift also had both the #1 and #2 songs on the Nielsen’s BDS Top 10 Most Played Songs chart (includes all genres) with “You Belong With Me (#1) and “Love Story” (#2). 

• In November, Swift won four CMA Awards including the top award – Entertainer of the Year. The CMA’s awarded Taylor the 2009 International Artist Achievement Award as well.  At the 2009 ACM Awards, Swift picked up the awards for Album of the Year and also the Crystal Milestone Award.

• Other awards in 2009 include the 2009 BMI Country Song of the Year Award, the BMI President’s Award, an MTV VMA Award, two Teen Choice Awards, two CMT Music Awards, and the Songwriter/Artist of the Year Award from the NSAI.

• Carrie’s debut album, Some Hearts was named as the Top Country Album of the Decade by Billboard.  Some Hearts was released in 2005 and features the hits “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” “Don’t Forget To Remember Me,” “Before He Cheats,” “Wasted” and the pop hit “Inside Your Heaven.”

•  “Cowboy Casanova” – the first single from her new album Play On was another #1 hit for Carrie.  Play On was released on November 3, 2009 and is Carrie’s 3rd album release to date.

• Carrie Underwood co-hosted the 43rd Annual CMA Awards with Brad Paisley in November 2009 for the 2nd straight year.

• Carrie Underwood announced in December that she will be begin her 2010 “Play On” tour on March 11 in Reading, Pennsylvania.  She will finish this leg of the tour on May 30 in Spokane, Washington.  The 45-city tour will feature Craig Morgan and Sons of Sylvia as her special guests.  (Sons of Sylvia sang and played on Carrie Underwood’s “Play On” album on the song “What Can I Say”.)  Underwood is following up to her largely successful 2008 Carnival Ride tour where she played 137 shows and had over a million fans in attendance.

• Carrie became engaged to Ottawa Senators hockey player Mike Fisher in December.  Underwood and Fisher have been dating for about a year.  They have not set a date yet for the wedding. 

• Brad released his latest album, American Saturday Night on June 30, 2009.  The lead off single “Then” became Paisley’s 14th number 1 single.

• In 2009, Brad headlined his new tour “American Saturday Night” with special guests Dierks Bentley and Jimmy Wayne. 

• At the 2009 CMA Awards, Paisley took home the awards for Male Vocalist of the Year and Musical Event of the Year for “Start A Band” with Keith Urban.  Brad also co-hosted the awards show for the 2nd straight year with Carrie Underwood.

• On April 17, 2009 – Brad and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley welcomed their second son, Jasper Warren.  He joins older brother William Huckleberry (or Huck) who was born on February 22, 2007.

• Brad won 3 awards at the 2009 ACM Awards: Video of the Year for “Waitin’ on a Woman”, Vocal Event of the Year for “Start a Band” and also Top Male Vocalist of the Year.

• Brad also picked up 2 Grammy Awards in 2009 for Best Country Instrumental Performance ("Cluster Pluck") and Best Male Country Vocal Performance ("Letter to Me").

• In 2009, Lady Antebellum took home the Vocal Group of the Year award at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards.

• Lady Antebellum’s current single, “Need You Now” spent the longest time on top of the country charts in 2009, spending 5 consecutive weeks at number 1.  The track has already been certified platinum (sales of over 1 million).

• Lady Antebellum will release their sophomore album, Need You Now, on January 26, 2010.  Their second single, “American Honey” has just been released to country radio.

• Keith Urban’s latest project, Defying Gravity, was released on March 31, 2009.  Defying Gravity debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts.  The lead off single “Sweet Thing” hit #1 on the charts.

• Keith’s second single from Defying Gravity was “Kiss A Girl”.  Urban followed up with “Only You Can Love Me This Way” which topped the country charts. 

• Keith Urban headlined his Escape Together tour in 2009 with many special guests including Taylor Swift, Sugarland and Jason Aldean. 

• Keith won three awards in 2009:  Vocal Event of the Year for “Start a Band” with Brad Paisley at the CMA Awards.  The video for “Start a Band” also picked up the award for Collaborative Video of the Year at the CMT Music Awards.  In addition, Urban won an American Music Award for the Favorite Male Artist – Country.

• The "We're All for the Hall" benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, headlined by Keith Urban, played to a sold-out crowd at Nashville's Sommet Center in 2009.

• Jason Aldean released Wide Open on April 7, 2009.  The project’s first single “She’s Country” became his second #1 hit.  Aldean’s 2nd single from Wide Open, “Big Green Tractor” also topped the charts, claiming the top spot for four consecutive weeks. 

Wide Open has been certified platinum by the RIAA with sales of over 1 million copies. 

• On June 26, 2009, Jason Aldean and Bryan Adams’ episode of CMT Crossroads aired on CMT.  The pair recorded the concert in early May. 

• On August 25, 2009, Jason released Wide Open Live & More – a live DVD featuring Jason and his band in concert.  The DVD has been certified Gold (sales of 500,000).

• Aldean’s latest single “The Truth” is currently sitting inside the top 10. (as of Jan. 5, 2009)

• The Academy of Country Music honored George Strait with the Artist of the Decade award at the 2009 ACM Awards.  Garth Brooks presented the award to George. 

• Strait released his new album Twang on August 11, 2009.  The album has been certified gold by the RIAA.  Twang is nominated for the Best Country Album award at the upcoming 2010 Grammy Awards. 

• The first single from Twang, “Living for the Night” was written by Strait and his song Bubba, along with hit songwriter Dean Dillon.  Bubba also wrote “Arkansas Dave” which is a tribute to Johnny Cash.

• Strait won the Best Country Album award at the 2009 Grammy Awards for his album Troubadour.

• Strait’s second single, the title track "Twang" is as radio now.

• In 2009, Reba released her first single from the Valory Music Co.  “Strange” peaked at # 11, while her album Keep On Loving You debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country and Top 200 charts.

Keep On Loving You was released on August 18, 2009 and was her first solo studio album in 6 years.  Reba’s last project, Reba Duets, was released in 2007 – but included no solo material.

• With the release of Keep On Loving You, Reba has now had the most Billboard #1 albums for a female country artist. 

• Reba’s second single “Consider Me Gone” became her 24th #1 on the Billboard charts landing at the top spot in December 2009.  As of January 5, 2010, “Consider Me Gone” has been on top of the charts for the 3rd consecutive week, making this the biggest chart hit of Reba’s career.  “Consider Me Gone” is also now the longest-running #1 hit for a female country artist since Taylor Swift hit the charts for several weeks in 2007 with her hit “Our Song.”

Kenny Chesney announced that he will not tour in 2010.  Chesney was the most profitable country music artist in 2008, with Forbes estimating his income of $65 million. 

Garth Brooks did another set of his one-man acoustic shows at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas in December 2009.
Brooks, along with other country artists including Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) performed in Washington, D.C. for Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.  The White House also welcomed performances by Country music artists again in July 2009 – when Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss and Charley Pride all performed live.

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant won big at the 2009 Grammy Awards.  They took home awards for overall album, overall record, best contemporary folk/Americana album, best country collaboration with vocals and best pop collaboration with vocals.  All of the awards were for their collaboration on their album, Raising Sand.

• In June, Montgomery Gentry joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Brooks and Dunn announced in August 2009 that they will do their final tour in 2010.

• A Broadway stage version of Pure Country will debut in 2010.  Joe Nichols will play the lead role.


Jo Dee Messina and her husband Chris Deffenbaugh welcomed their first child, a son named Noah Roger Deffenbaugh, on January 19, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.  Noah weighed in at 6 pounds, 15 ounces.  Messina and Deffenbaugh were married in 2007. 

Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley welcomed their second son, Jasper Warren on April 17, 2009.  He joins older brother William Huckleberry (or Huck) who was born on February 22, 2007.

Josh Turner and his wife Jennifer welcomed a baby boy, Colby Lynch Turner, on June 26, 2009.  Colby joins his older brother Hampton Otis.  Josh and Jennifer have been married since 2003.

Zac Brown and his wife Shelly welcomed their third daughter, Georgia Sloan Brown, on September 9, 2009.  Georgia weighed in at 8 lbs., 9 oz. and joins older sisters Lucy and Justice.


David Nail and Catherine Werne were married on June 6, 2009 in Franklin, Tennessee.  You can see photos here taken at their wedding by photographer Lauren Harris. 

Holly Williams and drummer Chris Coleman were married on September 27, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.  Holly is the granddaughter of country legend Hank Williams Sr. and daughter of Hank Jr.  Guests included Kid Rock and Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts.


NEW ARTISTS TO WATCH IN 2010: (Also see our "Artists On The Rise" profiles for MORE spotlights!)

Justin Moore Justin Moore could easily get the title for the best new artist in 2009.  Justin had one of the better new releases from a brand new artist in 2009 with “Small Town USA.”  The song resonated with country fans everywhere, and the song is still frequently played on radio and video stations alike.  Moore’s single “Small Town USA” hit the #1 spot on the charts – making him the only new country artist in 2009 to have a #1 hit single.  With all of the success of “Small Town USA” - Billboard named Moore the “New Country Artist of 2009” and The New York Times also put Moore’s debut album in the Top 10 best albums of 2009.

Moore’s latest single, “Backwoods” is currently inside the Top 30 and still climbing.  Starting on January 7, 2010, Moore will join Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert on the American Saturday Night Tour.   Whether or not he’ll have any more big hits from his self-titled debut project has yet to be seen, but “Small Town USA” brought Justin full force into the spotlight in 2009.

Jessica Harp – Jessica Harp will release her solo debut album from Warner Bros. Records later this year.  The album, A Woman Needs features her debut single “Boy Like Me” and also her new single and the title track “A Woman Needs”.  Harp has already hit the top of the Country music charts in her career as half of the duo, The Wreckers (with Michelle Branch) for their debut single “Leave The Pieces”.

Michelle Branch – Michelle Branch, the other half of The Wreckers, is also trying to launch her solo career in country music.  She released her debut solo country single, “Sooner or Later” last year with the video releasing in October.  Her new album, Everything Comes and Goes, will be released sometime this year.

Steel Magnolia – Steel Magnolia (Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones) won the 2009 CMT TV series Can You Duet? They released their debut single “Keep On Lovin’ You” shortly after the show concluded.  “Keep On Lovin’ You” is currently in the Top 40 on country radio.  Steel Magnolia worked with hit producer Dann Huff on their debut album from Big Machine Records.  The CD, yet to be titled, will be released in February 2010.

David Nail – David Nail finally got his chance to release a full country album in 2009.  A few years back, David had recorded an album (with great songs, by the way), but the album failed to ever get released.  Fast forward to 2009, and he has a better sound and look – and he’s been working on his songwriting too.  His first single “Red Light” reached the top 10, landing at the 7th spot.

Sons of Sylvia Sons of Sylvia (previously The Clark Brothers) will probably release their debut project in 2010.  They’ve had a rough go at it during the last few years, but they are a band that has so much potential if they are given a chance.  They won “The Next Great American Band” and are signed onto 19 Entertainment, but they have yet to release a single or album.  2010 looks to be their year though… They were featured on Carrie Underwood’s latest project “Play On” on the song “What Can I Say”.  Sons of Sylvia will also be one of the special guests on Carrie’s new tour in 2010. 

LoCash Cowboys The new duo LoCash Cowboys features Chris Lucas and Preston Brust.  They will release their debut single in early 2010 from Stroudavarious Records.  You can hear a handful of songs from their upcoming CD on their limited edition “This Is How We Do It” EP which is available now.  The EP was produced by hit songwriter, musician and producer Jeffrey Steele.  The LoCash Cowboys will release their full CD, also titled This Is How We Do It this spring.

Danny Gokey Danny Gokey was a finalist on Season 8 of American Idol last year.  Following his exit on the show, 19 Recordings and RCA Nashville Records signed him on to record his debut country album.  Gokey’s debut single “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me” is on country radio now.  Gokey will release his album My Best Days in March 2010.   

Josh Thompson Josh Thompson released his debut single “Beer On The Table” in 2009 on Columbia Records.  The song is currently a Top 30 hit and climbing.  Thompson’s self-titled digital EP is available now on all digital outlets.  Thompson’s full CD will be released in 2010.


Click here to see upcoming 2010 CD releases
Fans can expect new music from Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, and Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks.


John Rich and his wife are expecting their first child in January.

Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook (of Little Big Town) are expecting their first child in 2010.  Karen and Jimi were married in 2006. 

Carolyn Dawn Johnson is expecting her second baby at the end of February.


52nd Annual Grammy Awards – January 31, 2010 | Staples Center Los Angeles CA | 8pm et/pt CBS
See full list of nominees here: http://www.grammy.com/

45th Annual Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards – Sunday, April 18, 2010 | MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas |
5 PM Pacific Time

44th Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards – November 2010 | Nashville, Tennessee


Season 9 of American Idol will premiere on January 12, 2010 on FOX Network.
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