Country music was once known primarily for its traditional, twangy sound, but a new generation of artists are ushering in a completely different era. And as these artists have dared to branch out, they prove the validity of the statement: "With great risk comes great reward."

From Taylor Swift's decision to become a pop star to Dierks Bentley making a bluegrass album, these stars have proved they have the guts and gumption necessary to forge their own paths. However, some of the stars' choices have been far riskier than just pushing the mold or exploring new musical genres.

LeAnn Rimes had an affair, Kenny Chesney addressed the sordid details of his sexual escapades, Natalie Maines bashed President Bush, to name a few of the most bold. Some of these artists' careers were permanently tainted by their decisions, while others blossomed as a result of their risky endeavors. Click through our gallery above to see how these brave steps panned out for some of country music's most beloved stars.

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