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Highs and lows, new and old — country music showed just how incredibly resilient and diverse it is in 2017. But the heartaches were hard. Really hard. The losses were staggering, but in a way that made our high points an even bigger reason to celebrate.

Rare Country’s 5 is taking a look at the heartbreak and happiness that made 2017 a year to remember for the country music community, both in Nashville and around the world.

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It was arguably the most significant and tragic event to take place in country music history. The shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 took the lives of 58 amazing country music fans, and emotionally scarred many others whose lives were threatened by a gunman who peeled off round after round of gunfire on the innocent crowd.

As traumatic as it was, country artists like Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich, Dee Jay Silver and Jason Aldean, who was onstage at the time of the shooting, returned to Vegas almost immediately to embrace their supporters and express their gratitude to the first responders. And as devastating as the tragedy was, it also serves as a reminder that country music—the new and the old, the traditional and the contemporary—comes together in a time of need.

It was a hard thing to recover from, and many are still struggling with the residual aftereffects of Route 91, but it’s helpful to remember that the year wasn’t just about tragedy and loss.

One of country music’s favorite icons, Alan Jackson, celebrated a career milestone when he was welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The mild-mannered and often bashful country music superstar was thrilled with his honor, but he may have been even more in awe of the country stars who came out to recognize him during the evening’s medallion ceremony. Texas-based George Strait made the journey to Nashville to toast his pal, and Loretta Lynn, who suffered a stroke in May, made a rare public appearance, even getting up onstage to share a hug and a few words dedicated to Alan and his accomplishment.

It’s important to remember these glorious moments, these high highs in a year that also saw such heartbreak. While we’ll never forget that tragic night in Las Vegas or the incredible legends and icons who lost their lives in 2017, it is healing to think that new, young country stars are carrying on their traditions.

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We look at some of those country stars and others who are carving their own paths, along with a glimpse at some of those stars we lost too soon in this edition of Rare Country’s 5.

Be sure to check back in later in the week when we look at more of the news from in and around country music in Rare Country’s 5.

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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