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Top Country Music News of 2007
Whatever Else Befell, There Were Always Awards
Apart from the deaths of musical titans (to be covered in a separate story), 2007 has been an encouraging but less than banner year for country music. Carrie Underwood emerged as a full-blown star -- with teen Taylor Swift nipping at her heels. Garth Brooks shook off his domestic dormancy and flexed his still-considerable musical muscles. Kenny Chesney continued to fill more stadiums than any other artist on the Row. Here is a month-by-month rundown of how the year shaped up.

January: Elevator going down. Nielsen SoundScan reports that country album sales for 2006 dipped 0.5 percent -- or about 441,000 units -- from the total number sold in 2005. . . Stonewall Jackson sues the Grand Ole Opry for age discrimination.

February: Dixie Chicks win five Grammys, including the cherished overall album of year award for Taking The Long Way. ... Kenny Chesney denies he's gay on 60 Minutes. ... Reba McEntire's sitcom concludes. ... Sammy Kershaw files for bankruptcy. ... Terri Clark files for divorce. ... Tracy Lawrence releases For the Love, his first album in three years. ... Brad Paisley becomes a father. ... Country Radio Broadcasters honor Kenny Rogers for lifetime achievements.

March: Wynonna Judd seeks divorce after husband's arrest for aggravated sexual battery against a minor.

April: Fire destroys Johnny Cash's former home in Hendersonville, Tenn. ... Willie Nelson pleads guilty to marijuana possession. Gets fine and six-month probation.

May: Kenny Chesney wins third consecutive entertainer of the year award from Academy of Country Music. ... Mel Tillis tapped to join Grand Ole Opry. ... Trisha Yearwood signs with Big Machine Records. ... Mary Chapin Carpenter cancels tour due to illness. ... Songwriters celebrate Bluebird Café's 25th anniversary.

June: Porter Wagoner releases what will prove to be his final studio album, Wagonmaster, with Marty Stuart producing. ... Dolly Parton honored with Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York. ... Rascal Flatts give surprise performance at CMA Music Festival. ... Dierks Bentley well received by fans at mammoth Bonaroo Music & Arts Festival. ... Sammy Kershaw files to run for lieutenant governor of Louisiana.

July: Donor of Mother Maybelle's guitar and Bill Monroe's mandolin charged with fraud. ... The Wreckers' Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp say they will pursue solo projects. ... Darryl Worley appears nude in Playgirl photo spread.

August: Vince Gill, Mel Tillis, Ralph Emery named to Country Music Hall of Fame. ... Denise (Mrs. Alan) Jackson's book goes No. 1 in New York Times.

September: Garth Brooks makes history when his "More Than a Memory" single tops the chart its first week out. ... Mindy McCready gets one-year jail sentence for violating parole. ... Rascal Flatts set charitable record by donating $829,581 from group's Nashville concert to Vanderbilt's children's hospital. ... Sara Evans' divorce granted.

October: Josh Turner joins Grand Ole Opry. ... Garth Brooks sells out nine concerts at Kansas City's 18,000-seat Sprint Center. ... Joe Nichols enters rehab. ... Flatt & Scruggs, Hank Williams Jr., Mac McAnally, Dottie Rambo and Bob DiPiero inducted into Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. ... John Rich proclaimed ASCAP's artist-songwriter of the year. ... Lorrie Morgan files for divorce from fifth husband, Sammy Kershaw.

November: Nashville Songwriters Association International announces it's buying Bluebird Café. ... Liz Rose, co-writer of "Tim McGraw," is SESAC's songwriter of the year. ... BMI crowns Jeffrey Steele its songwriter of the year, honors Willie Nelson with Icon Award. ... Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney are top CMA award winners, with Chesney taking his third entertainer of the year prize. ... Charlie Daniels invited to join Grand Ole Opry.

December: Vince Gill's These Days nominated for best album Grammy, Taylor Swift for best new artist. ... Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw-Faith Hill and Rascal Flatts among top grossing tours of 2007. ... Court allows Stonewall Jackson's age-discrimination suit against Grand Ole Opy to proceed.
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