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Thomas Rhett’s busy year culminates with a Rare Country Award win Instagram/@ThomasRhett Akins

In a year filled with engagements, marriages and new babies for lots of country stars, nothing has consistently warmed our hearts more than following the fairy tale year enjoyed by Thomas Rhett and his beautiful wife (and fan favorite), Lauren Akins.

In addition to enjoying major successes on the career front, Thomas doubled the size of his family in the span of just a few months, and his fans couldn’t get enough photos, news and videos of the adorable new additions. True to form, Thomas and Lauren didn’t disappoint, letting fans into their lives with plenty of social media updates.

That’s why fans chose Thomas Rhett’s fairy tale year as the Story of the Year in the Rare Country Awards. More than a million votes were cast, and winners were announced Dec. 14 during a livestreamed concert event held at Acme Feed & Seed in Nashville.

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Early in the year, Thomas and Lauren broke the news that not only were they finalizing their adoption of sweet daughter Willa Gray from an orphanage in Uganda, they were also expecting their first biological child as well. After a lengthy and often challenging adoption process, Willa finally arrived home in May, and had a few months to beautifully adapt to her new life before sister Ada James was born in August. Thomas and Lauren also celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary this year.

While juggling all of those big changes on the home front, the Grammy-nominated singer also embarked on his first headline tour—”The Home Team Tour”—and so many shows were sold out that dates were added in some cities. The trek also included a string of European dates in the fall, helping expand the country star’s fan base internationally.

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“Craving You,” Thomas’ Rare Country Awards-nominated smash duet with Maren Morris, was the leadoff track to his chart-topping newest album, “Life Changes,” his first to debut in the top spot on the country albums chart. “Craving You” was followed up with another hit track from the album, “Unforgettable,” which became his ninth No. 1.

Thomas racked up plenty more professional accolades this year, as he was named Country Artist of the Year at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in March and earned a Song of the Year win for game-changer “Die A Happy Man” at the ACM Awards in April. He also tested his hosting skills, alongside Kelsea Ballerini, when the two rising stars co-hosted this summer’s “CMA Fest” television special on ABC, the second year in the job for Thomas.

In support of his critically-acclaimed album, Thomas announced he’ll headline the “Life Changes Tour” in 2018, in addition to opening dates for Kenny Chesney on next summer’s “Trip Around The Sun” stadium trek.

In addition to getting plenty of opportunities to see him live, Thomas’ fans can count on him continuing to share his blissful family life with them in the new year.

Phyllis Stark is a Nashville-based entertainment journalist who has been reporting extensively on country music (and loving every moment of it) for more than two decades.
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