As we near the end of 2017, it’s only fitting that One Country shares a few of those classic, end of the year lists. Like you, we are kind of bored with the typical end of the year lists, so we’re putting our own spin on a few!
This year was like no other year country music has ever experienced. The deaths of Glen Campbell, Greg Allman, Don Williams and Troy Gentry stirred up emotions in artists of all genres. And, of course, the tragic event during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas had many wondering if certain entertainers would ever be able to take the stage again.
Though the year seemed to be filled with tragedy, country music was able to do what it’s always done– be an escape and an outlet for anyone who needed a little bit of comfort.
The year brought us a number of memorable moments and of course, many of them were performed live right in front of our eyes.
10 Best Live Moments in Country Music This Year, Presented in No Particular Order:
Carrie Underwood // “Softly and Tenderly”
Days before the 51st Annual CMA Awards, Brad Paisley promised that Carrie Underwood’s performance would be the highlight of the night. Many (myself included) thought this might mean Underwood would be performing new music. Underwood’s performance of the hymn, “Softly and Tenderly” was the highlight of the night and was a perfect tribute to those country music lost this year, including the 58 victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Even Underwood seemed to know what was happening while she was singing, as she lost her composure near the end, but fought back tears enough to finish out the song.
Eric Church // “Why Not Me”
Eric Church was a headliner during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in October, but he wasn’t on stage when the shooting happened. The events in Las Vegas affected Eric so deeply he didn’t want to perform a few nights later during a scheduled performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Church rallied after hearing the story of Sonny Melton, who died during the shooting, and was one of Church’s biggest fans. He was also supposed to be at the Opry that night. Church performed a song he wrote after the shooting titled, “Why Not Me.“
Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood // “Does He Love You”
2017 marked Reba McEntire’s 40th anniversary at the Grand Ole Opry. During the occasion friends Ronnie Dunn, Vince Gill and Dolly Parton all offered up words and tributes to the legend. There was also a huge cake, but the real highlight of the evening was Carrie Underwood surprising fans during McEntire’s “Does He Love You” performance. If you’re short on time, just skip to 3:05 and watch through 3:50.
Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood // “The Fighter”
The 2017 CMT Music Awards brought Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood together to perform their duet of “The Fighter” for the third time on national TV. This time around Urban and Underwood stripped it down and toned down the disco elements of the tune for one of the best performances of the year. You can’t beat a fiddle and steel guitar.
Lady Antebellum // “You Look Good”
After taking a year-long hiatus from touring and working on new music, Lady Antebellum re-entered the scene with the most fun song of their career, “You Look Good.” The song features a horn section and the group even took a few of the Tennessee Kids out on the road with them to make sure every live performance was insane. Lady A’s most outstanding moment was during the 2017 ACM Awards when the UNLV Marching Band joined them on stage. (Unfortunately, official video from the show is unavailable, but this one works. The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was literally rocking.)
Keith Urban // “Wasted Time”
You may be noticing a bit of a theme here, but 2017 was definitely the year of Keith Urban. Urban closed out CMA’s Music Fest this year with one of the most epic performances of all-time. Personally, I thought this performance alone was worthy of the CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy, but hey– you can’t win ’em all.
Miranda Lambert with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne // “Vice”
Once again, Miranda Lambert took home the trophies for CMA and ACM Female Vocalist of the Year. Her year was full of amazing on-stage moments, but my absolute favorite was her performance of “Vice” with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, her co-writers on the tune. This year, Lambert also revealed that she wrote this song the day her divorce from Blake Shelton was made public, making the tune even more vulnerable than before.
Hillary Scott // “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia”
This year during the 2017 ACM Honors, Reba McEntire was presented with the Mae Boren Axton Service Award. To pay tribute to her, Hillary Scott, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman sang a medley of her hits, “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia,” “Does He Love You” and “Little Rock.” They were all excellent, but Scott really nailed it.
Maren Morris with Alicia Keys // “Once”
Maren Morris looked right at home on the biggest stage of her life– the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Morris didn’t need help from 15-time GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys, but she got it and it rolled into one mega performance of “Once” from Morris’ Hero album. The two soulful women traded verses before coming together for the final verse by backed by a string section that probably had a hard time paying attention while these two were singing.
Jason Aldean with Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town // “I Won’t Back Down”
During the CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, instead of performing one of his big hits from the year, Jason Aldean opted to perform Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” with help from Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Little Big Town. Aldean also performed the song the week following the Las Vegas shooting on “Saturday Night Live.”