10 Biggest Stories of 2014
2014 has been a whirlwind year of triumph and tragedy worthy of a country song. The top stories of the year include engagements, a pregnancy, a robbery and some really hard times for one country favorite.
One of the genre's biggest stars rode away into the sunset, while another came bursting back into the limelight. Relive the entire year in headlines with Taste of Country's list of the Top 10 Stories of 2014.
The year didn't exactly get off to a great start for Trace Adkins. After years of sobriety, he entered rehab in January following a confrontation with an impersonator on a cruise ship, then left to be with his father when he fell ill. His dad passed away in February, and in March his wife Rhonda filed for divorce. Fortunately things appear to have settled for Adkins; he debuted new music at a show in September and recently launched his Christmas Tour.
Josh Gracin alarmed friends, family and fans when he posted what many construed as a suicide note to Facebook. "Please remember me as someone who gave his all in his music … Pray for my family as they carry on in this world without me. Goodbye,” Gracin wrote in August. The former 'American Idol' contestant alluded to some marital problems, but apologized just hours later, then seeking professional help.
'American Idol' Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery experienced a horrifying scare in May, when he and several friends were held up at gunpoint. The singer was visiting friends on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh when three men broke in and held them at gunpoint, taking their wallets and cell phones. One of the gunmen later turned himself in to police, and was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.
It was the slap heard 'round the world. Tim McGraw became embroiled in controversy in July after a video of him appearing to slap a fan at a concert went viral. The female fan got way too intimate with McGraw as he came down the catwalk during his encore, touching his backside and tearing his jeans. The star clarified that he slapped at her out of pure instinct. The fan got a lawyer, but she and McGraw settled their differences out of court.
Brantley Gilbert surprised his fans by announcing his engagement on Bobby Bones' radio show in October. Gilbert was previously engaged to Jana Kramer, but they broke it off in 2013. He calls his fiancee, Amber Cochran, "the one who got away for about five years,” adding that she has been the inspiration for many of his songs, including 'More Than Miles' and 'You Don't Know Her Like I Do.' The pair are planning a wedding for June 2015.
Two country hitmakers rocked the genre by coming out on the same day. Ty Herndon revealed that he’s gay in a prepared interview with ‘Entertainment Tonight’ on Nov. 20, and just hours later, inspired by his friend’s decision, Billy Gilman followed suit in a video he posted directly to YouTube. The pair were met with an outpouring of support from fellow country artists.
Jason Aldean made headlines across the country when he revealed his engagement to his girlfriend, Brittany Kerr, in September. The former NBA cheerleader and 'American Idol' contestant was photographed kissing Aldean in September of 2012, and he separated from his wife, Jessica, in April of 2013. Aldean and Kerr confirmed their relationship in March of 2014. They have not announced a wedding date, but he says he plans to give his bride a big wedding.
This is where the cowboy rides away. George Strait packed 104,000 fans into AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in June for the final live concert of his touring career. The set featured 40 songs and guest appearances from Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Martina McBride. The show was the culmination of Strait's two-year the Cowboy Rides Away Tour, but Strait will still record new music, and he hasn't ruled out sporadic live performances or the possibility of a residency.
Carrie Underwood surprised and delighted country fans everywhere by announcing her pregnancy on Sept. 1. She revealed the news via social media with the help of her dogs. She didn't let it stop her from her duties co-hosting the annual CMA Awards, where Brad Paisley accidentally-on-purpose let it slip that she is expecting a boy.
Garth Brooks made the biggest news of the year in country music when he came out of a self-imposed retirement of more than a decade and announced he would tour beginning in 2014. In July he also announced a new album, and he formed a new digital service, GhostTunes, to offer his music digitally to fans for the first time. Brooks launched his world tour in Chicago on Sept. 4 and has been selling out multiple dates in every market. He released his new album, 'Man Against Machine,' in November.