The Year in Country Music 2016: Gunslinger Garth Brooks Becomes the Winningest Entertainer in CMA History

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute

Though Garth Brooks made two solo albums and notched countless sold-out dates on his world tour since he came out of retirement, 2016 would be the year the Country Music Hall of Famer solidified his comeback, winning Entertainer of the Year more times than any other artist in the 50-year history of the CMA Awards.

–While the year started with the focus on wife Trisha Yearwood’s portrayal of Mary, the Mother of Jesus in FOX’s live The Passion of the Christ on Palm Sunday, by April, Garth’s showmanship was on full display as he piped in a performance on the ACM Awards live from his show in Ottawa, Canada.

–In July, Garth returned to the Big Apple for the first time since his historic 1997 concert in Central Park. His two days of shows at New York’s Yankee Stadium were captured for a special coinciding with the fall release of two new albums and a Target-exclusive boxed set, which would all be out in the fall.

–In September, Garth rocked the Ryman, playing his first-ever full show at the historic venue, debuting his just-recorded duet “Whiskey to Wine” with Trisha.  The song was a track on Garth’s soon-to-be released album Gunslinger.

–Later in September, the Recording Industry Association of America gave Garth his seventh Diamond award, signifying seven albums that have all sold ten million copies each.  That officially gave Garth more diamond albums than the Beatles.

–In late October, the state of Tennessee would mark the Diamond occasion by throwing a star-studded concert with RebaKelly ClarksonJason AldeanChris Young and more turning out to pay tribute to the Oklahoma native by singing his songs.  Randy Travis watched from the audience; a week earlier, Garth had played his hit “Three Wooden Crosses” before inducting him into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

–October would also bring the first single from Garth’s Gunslinger, “Baby Let’s Lay Down and Dance,” as well as the news that he was edging further into the digital world, allowing his music to be streamed and downloaded via Amazon.

–November delivered yet another record for Garth: his fifth CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy, the most in the half-century history of the show.  Taylor Swift presented him with the award.

–For the rest of the year, Garth’s multiple new releases would dominate the sales charts:

His The Ultimate Collection 10-disc boxed set broke Target’s record for pre-sales, even though it was priced too low to be eligible to place on Billboard’s chart.

Garth’s first duet album with wife Trisha Yearwood, Christmas Together, bowed at number-one on the chart.

His 11th solo effort, Gunslinger, debuted high on the tally as well, with different versions of Garth’s albums occupying 3 out of the 5 top spots on the Billboard chart — a feat he hadn’t accomplished in close to 25 years.

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