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Top 2012 Musical Milestones

A year in review of Nashville's most memorable performances

Written By:  


December 1
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill also open their 10-weekend run at the Venetian.
February 12
Adele dominates the Grammy Awards, taking home six trophies and wowing critics with her return to the stage following vocal chord surgery. Jennifer Hudson offers a powerful rendition of “I Will Always Love You” the day after Whitney Houston’s untimely death. Also representing Nashville are winners Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars, Lady Antebellum, and Alison Krauss with Union Station.
March 8
Jack White rocks a packed house at Third Man Records. The event is one of his first concerts as a solo artist and also celebrates the venue’s third anniversary.
March 18
Taylor Swift wraps her blockbuster world tour (13 months, 111 shows, 19 countries) with a three-night stand in Auckland, New Zealand.
April 1
The Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas offers several smashing ollaborations: Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw; Blake Shelton and Lionel Richie; and Rascal Flatts and Steve Martin. A highlight: Toby Keith, Carrot Top, and Wayne Newton parading through the crowd swigging and singing “Red Solo Cup.”
April 2
The Week Vegas Goes Country continues with “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The television special showcases Richie’s top-selling duets album, Tuskegee, with performances by a who’s-who list from Jennifer Nettles to Jason Aldean.
May 5
Eric Church’s “Blood Sweat & Beers” tour plays a sold-out show at Bridgestone Arena.
May 23
A private memorial honors late disco icon and beloved Nashville resident Donna Summer at Christ Presbyterian Church including a heart-wrenching performance by Natalie Grant and David Foster who sing “The Prayer.”
June 6
The CMT Music Awards offer a number of surprise pairings: Rascal Flatts with Journey; Lady Antebellum with fellow Nashvillians Hot Chelle Rae; Brad Paisley with Hank Williams Jr. (who poke fun at Bocephus’ recent exit from ESPN Monday Night Football). Little Big Town’s performance of “Pontoon”— complete with a boat and inner tubes—previews the band’s skyrocketing success.
June 7-10
CMA Music Festival packs LP field with a record-setting 71,000 fans for performances by superstars Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, and Lady Antebellum.
June 7-10
While Nashville two-steps, 65 miles south in Manchester, Bonnaroo’s 80,000 attendees watch as Kenny Rogers jumps on stage with Lionel Richie and later, Phish.
June 7-10
Phish at Bonnaroo
June 9
Swan Ball attendees get a performance by Aretha Franklin while raising funds for Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.
June 19
Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame, brings his acclaimed “The Wall Live” world tour to Nashville.
June 23
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw’s “Brothers of the Sun Tour” gives LP Field a dose of summer fun with surprise guest Faith Hill joining her hubby for a version of “I Need You,” and Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tossing footballs into the crowd.
August 23
Little Big Town unleashes its new album Tornado at an invitation-only event at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, playing the album in its entirety.
September 21
Rock band Kings of Leon is inducted into the Music City Hall of Fame and saluted with the Music City Ambassador Award, an honor given to those who exemplify the numerous genres thriving here.
September 23
Carrie Underwood’s awesome “Blown Away Tour” swirls into Nashville; she’s surprised on stage by friend Brad Paisley for a duet of their hit, “Remind Me.”
September 24
The ACM Honors at the Ryman Auditorium salutes a slew of off-camera winners. Songwriter of the Year Dallas Davidson is toasted by friend Luke Bryan, who has taken Davidson’s songs to the top of the charts. Kellie Pickler, supporting cancer awareness with a shaved head, toasts Frank Liddell as Producer of the Year. Other honorees include Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam (pictured), and Kenny Chesney.
September 24 ACM Honors — Kellie Pickler
September 24 ACM Honors — Dallas Davidson
September 25
The Grand Ole Opry toasts Loretta Lynn’s 50th anniversary as an Opry member with musical tributes by her sister Crystal Gayle, the Pistol Annies, and Lee Ann Womack.
September 27
Music stalwart Emmylou Harris teams with folk-rock stars Mumford & Sons for a spectacular episode of “CMT Crossroads,” trading verses on each other’s best known songs.
September 27
Free concert series “Live On The Green” welcomes Alabama Shakes to Public Square Plaza with more than 12,000 fans.
October 3
Lady Antebellum’s “Own The Night World Tour” wraps with a run of three sold-out shows at the famed Sydney Opera House in Australia.
October 7
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductions celebrate those who penned some of the greatest songs of all time. Salutes go to inductee Larry Henley and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
October 16
Darius Rucker is visibly moved during his Grand Ole Opry induction by fellow Opry member Vince Gill. Joining him for the occasion were football legend Dan Marino and surprise guest Keith Urban.
October 17
Capitol Records ups the ante moving its free street party to Lower Broadway; about 25,000 fans turn out to see Luke Bryan, Jon Pardi, and Kelleigh Bannen.
October 22
The Country Music Hall of Fame inducts Garth Brooks, Connie Smith, and piano player Hargus “Pig” Robbins at its exclusive Medallion Ceremony. Icons include George Strait singing “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)” and James Taylor performing “The River,” with help from Brooks’s wife Trisha Yearwood.
October 22
Country Music Hall of Fame induction — Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood
October 24
Emmylou Harris performs her 1995 landmark album Wrecking Ball in front of a thrilled hometown crowd at Marathon Music Works.
October 29
Songwriters shine at the ASCAP Country Awards. Brad Paisley accepts his third honor as Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year; Ben Hayslip is named Songwriter of the Year.
October 30
The BMI Country Awards honor the songwriters behind the year’s biggest hits. BMI icon Tom T. Hall is saluted by The Avett Brothers, Toby Keith, and more.
November 1
Reigning country couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert rule the CMA Awards, taking home Entertainer of the Year, Male and Female Vocalist honors respectively, and the shared Song of the Year trophy for her hit, “Over You.”
November 1
Eric Church and producer Jay Joyce receive Album of the Year honors for Chief.
November 1
Little Big Town earns Vocal Group and Single of the Year for smash hit “Pontoon,” also produced by Joyce.
November 2
Taylor Swift’s album, Red, breaks all-time sales records by moving over 1.2 million debut-week copies.
December 1
Shania Twain launches a two-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Dec. 7
December 5
The “GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night” at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena marks the first time the event has taken place outside of Los Angeles. Taylor Swift and LL Cool J were co-hosts for the multi-genre superstar showcase.


There is no doubt that we have come into our own as the country’s musical Mecca. Whether you’re an artist, fan, or member of the industry, there’s no better place to be right this very minute. In 2012, we watched our city nourish numerous genres and expand its presence on the national scene. Residents with global reach—Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum—wowed international audiences. Likewise, Music City attracted the world’s biggest artists for events big and small. Record numbers flocked to the CMA Music Festival and Bonnaroo while a select few were graced with Aretha Franklin’s performance at the exclusive Swan Ball and even fewer, by Jack White during a surprise gig. Country music celebrated the continued reign of power couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, as well as breakthroughs by Little Big Town and Eric Church. To cap things off, this month brings the arrival of the Grammy Nominations concert to Bridgestone Arena, a primetime television event that is being held outside of Los Angeles for the first time ever

It’s been the kind of year that makes us proud to call Music City home. Click through the gallery to see 30+ reasons why!

by Sarah Skates


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