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A country star reflects on a year of big changes with his little man Instagram/@shaymooney

When we look back at 2017, of course, we hear a year of great country music from the format’s best rising and established artists. We also think of 12 months of amazing concerts, tours, fairs and festivals that featured our favorite stars.

And we also think about babies.

As we have reported before, 2017 was a virtual baby boom in country music with more than three dozen little ones making their grand entrance. One of our first arrivals from last January is now celebrating his big first birthday. And wow, what a difference a year makes for Asher James, the firstborn of Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney and wife Hannah Billingsley.

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We fell in love with this little nugget from the moment we saw him in all of his pink perfection, and as the months progressed, we watched him grow into a roly-poly and precious baby boy with what seems to be a permanent smile.

But there’s nothing like the love of a parent, and in an incredibly poignant post to his son, Shay shared his thoughts and a collection of photos as he reflected on Asher’s birthday and a year of big changes for his family.

“A year ago today my life was forever changed,” he wrote. “Never knew I could love so much. Asher James, you’ve brought me more happiness than I ever thought possible. Hannah, you’re the best Momma and wifey in the whole world. I can’t believe it’s already been a year. Ash, pray I’m the daddy you deserve. I’m already so proud of you. You’re a beaming light in a dark world. Thank you Lord for my family and this life we get to live. Hard not tear up just thinkin about it. I love you buddy ☺️❤️”

The photo album Shay shares on Instagram includes an early picture taken shortly after Asher’s arrival, and then some of our favorites, like the adorable nudie shot showing the little guy looking a lot like Cupid in all of his baby pudge glory. Another shows the sheer delight of what must have been the best playground adventure ever.

While we haven’t seen pictures yet of Asher’s smash cake or first birthday party, mom Hannah also shared a photo that shows her little man with a special gift from a family relative, a tiny piano.

And in a blink, we can see exactly how much the tot resembles his handsome father.

This child loves music! Thank you, Aunt E, for this precious piano ♥️ @erica_bankston

A post shared by Hannah Mooney (@hannah.billingsley) on

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Asher James may find that, in a few years, he shares a classroom with Dolly Grace Schlapman, the daughter of Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman, who was born the previous December, or Evelyne Nadine Pitney, the daughter of Mo Pitney, who was born a little more than a week before Asher.

By our calculations, we’ll have a break from first birthdays for about two months before the Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston and his wife Evyn celebrate the big first birthday of their son, Jude Daniel.

But before then, we have some 2018 babies to welcome to the world. Yes, we’re looking at you Hillary Scott, Morgane Stapleton and Jessie James Decker!

Happy first birthday, Asher James!

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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