For a man in retirement, Garth Brooks sure made a lot of headlines in 2005 — breaking with Capitol Records, signing with Wal-Mart and finally uniting legally with Trisha Yearwood. This was the year the Country Music Association took its awards show (and a chorus of dire warnings) to New York. Kenny Chesney was married to Renee Zellweger — and then he wasn’t. Johnny Cash’s torch continued to burn bright via a movie and various boxed sets. And Loretta Lynn staged a very Cash-like comeback of her own. It’s been a busy 12 months.
January: The year began on an optimistic note with news that country album sales had increased 12 percent during 2004.
Sara Evans, Clay Walker, Neal McCoy, Lyle Lovett and several other country acts performed for President Bush and his supporters at the Black Tie & Boots inaugural ball in Washington.
February: Rhonda Vincent won entertainer of the year and contemporary female vocalist honors at the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America’s 31st annual awards show in Nashville.
Soaring from the success of her Van Lear Rose album, Loretta Lynn picked up the second and third Grammy Awards of her 45-year career during ceremonies in Los Angeles.
Backed by his band in Fort Worth, Texas, Garth Brooks appeared for the first of what would be several performances in 2005. With tickets priced at $1,000 each, the event raised approximately $1.8 million for Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
March: During the keynote presentation at the annual Country Radio Seminar, Toby Keith announced plans to launch his own record label.
A new exhibit, Banjo Man: The Musical Journey of Earl Scruggs, opened at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
April: Gretchen Wilson picked up two trophies as the top winner at the 2005 CMT Music Awards in Nashville.
Cowboy Jack’s Home Movies, a documentary about producer, songwriter and iconoclast Cowboy Jack Clement, won two awards at the Nashville Film Festival.
May: Kenny Chesney married actress Renee Zellweger during a ceremony on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A few weeks later, Chesney was named entertainer of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.
Garth Brooks proposed to longtime girlfriend Trisha Yearwood while attending a ceremony at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif.
June: The CMA Music Festival filled downtown Nashville with country stars and fans.
Garth Brooks exited Capitol Records after 17 years on the label.
July: A new exhibit, Porter Wagoner: The Rhinestone Troubadour, opened at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
July 22: Amid a flurry of personal and legal problems, Mindy McCready was treated for a drug overdose after being found unconscious in the lobby of a Holiday Inn near Tampa, Fla.
Singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall comes out of retirement for three sold-out concerts as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s artist in residence for 2005.
August: Garth Brooks announced a record deal with Wal-Mart and became the first artist to sell his music exclusively at the giant retailer.
September: Toby Keith officially launched his own label, Show Dog Records.
Philanthropist Robert W. “Bob” McLean donated the “most famous mandolin ever played” — Bill Monroe’s 1923 Gibson F-5 model instrument to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Guy Clark was presented the Americana Music Association’s lifetime achievement award during its annual awards show in Nashville.
Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger asked a California court to annul their four-month marriage. The annulment was finalized in December.
October: Vince Gill, Roger Murrah, Jerry Reed, Gary Burr and Mike Reid were inducted into Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Craig Wiseman was named ASCAP’s songwriter of the year.
Harley Allen, Richie McDonald and Big & Rich’s Big Kenny tied for ASCAP’s songwriter of the year honors.
SESAC proclaimed Scooter Carusoe its songwriter of the year.
Cherryholmes won the entertainer of the year prize when the International Bluegrass Music Association moved its annual awards show to Nashville.
November: Keith Urban and Lee Ann Womack were the top winners at the 39th annual CMA Awards that took place in New York.
Country stars turned out in force for the New York premiere of the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line.
December: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood were married during a private ceremony at their home in Claremore, Okla.