Nielsen’s year-end sales report for 2015 reveals country music albums constituted only 8.5 per cent of total album sales in the U.S. Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton were the year’s bestselling country artists.
2016: A Year in Country Music News
What with the plethora of award shows and No. 1 parties, virtually everybody who was anybody in the country music industry had at least one trophy to brandish at some time during the year.
But none of this manufactured enthusiasm could lessen the real sadness that enveloped Music Row when such titans as Merle Haggard, Sonny James and Ralph Stanley died. James and Stanley had carried the country music torch from the end of World War deep into the Internet Age. And Haggard was simply one of the most forceful recording acts, songwriters and musical influences to come along since country music first found a name for itself.
Besides Haggard and James, two fellow Country Music Hall of Fame members — Bonnie Brown (of the Browns) and Jean Shepard — also exited the stage.
Continued chart-topping album sales and armloads of new awards demonstrated that Chris Stapleton was no CMA Awards-show flash in the pan. His debut album, Traveller, was approaching the 2-million sales mark as 2016 coasted to an end. Garth Brooks sold out New York’s Yankee Stadium twice, as if to demonstrate the crown he first donned in the early ’90 is still firmly in place.
The divine Dolly Parton rounded out her year of touring, movie-making and generally spreading sunshine by hosting a telethon to raise money for the homefolks in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, who’d lost their homes and businesses in a forest fire.
Flip through the photos below to see the country-related events for which 2016 will be remembered.
-- Edward Morris, CMT.com