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The Year in Country Music 2018: In other news...

ABC/Image Group LAThe year of historic chart diversity

Country music may still be struggling when it comes to playing female artists on the radio, but in 2018, the format did make some strides in diversity. Over the course of the last year, three different black artists topped the chart: Kane BrownDarius Rucker, and Jimmie Allen.

In a practically unheard-of feat, Kane and Darius also notched consecutive weeks at #1, when Kane's "Heaven" made way for Darius' "For the First Time" at the end of May. Incredibly, it happened again toward the end of the year, when newcomer Jimmie Allen's multiple-week #1, "Best Shot," moved aside for Kane's "Lose It."

You get a #1! And you get a #1! And you get a #1!

If you'd never had a #1 hit, 2018 was a year the odds seemed to be in your favor. From more established artists like Chris StapletonMaren Morris, and Scotty McCreery to newcomers like Russell DickersonJordan DavisMorgan WallenMorgan EvansJimmie Allen, and Mitchell Tenpenny, no less than nine acts made their first trip to the top in 2018.

Here's a look at 2018's first-time number ones:

"I Could Use a Love Song" -- Maren Morris 
"Yours" -- Russell Dickerson
"Five More Minutes" -- Scotty McCreery
"Broken Halos" -- Chris Stapleton
"Singles You Up" -- Jordan Davis
"Up Down" -- Morgan Wallen with Florida Georgia Line
"Kiss Somebody" -- Morgan Evans
"Best Shot" -- Jimmie Allen
"Drunk Me" -- Mitchell Tenpenny

Garth sets his sights on stadiums

In 2018, then-reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks vowed to take it easy after three years of aggressive touring. But the roar of the crowd proved too enticing, and by October, he was back in Indiana playing Notre Dame Stadium, where he recorded the CBS special, Garth: Live at Notre Dame!.

The show turned out to be the prototype for The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour, which will launch March 9 in St. Louis, Missouri. From there, Glendale, Arizona; Gainesville, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are already on the books, with more dates still to come.

Eric Church may be a "Desperate Man," but he's one with an opinion

2018 brought the return of Eric Church, with his first new album since 2015's surprise release Mr. Misunderstood. The title track, "Desperate Man," preceded the album's October release, and in a revealing interview with Rolling Stone, the North Carolina native spoke for the first time about his brush with death: A birth defect led to a blood clot in his chest, which almost cost him his life. 

In the interview, Eric also revealed that while he's pro-gun, he's anti-NRA. Though the album debuted at #1, perhaps due to pushback over the gun comments, the single "Desperate Man" only reached #12.

"Some of It" will be the album's second single. Eric's set to launch his Double Down Tour -- playing two consecutive nights in each city -- January 18 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Pistol Annies return; their aim is true

Pistol Annies returned in 2018 to spread the Interstate Gospel. The third album from Miranda LambertAshley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley boasts candid songs about relationships, like "Got My Name Changed Back," the trio's first-ever official radio single.

The trio made multiple TV appearances and did a series of high-profile concerts around the album's November release. They're already booked to appear on some of Miranda's 2019 dates as well.

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