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It was a star-studded year of new faces, new attitudes and new adventures.

In 2004, country saw earth-shaking change and comforting consistency. There were big entrances and heartbreaking exits, lawsuits and lawbreakers. A rebellious posse of newcomers, including Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich, helped Nashville break out of a sales slump. Meanwhile, Kenny Chesney took a firm grip on superstardom with mammoth hits and a record-smashing tour, and rockers like Jimmy Buffett and Uncle Kracker broke into country by teaming with established stars. But those weren't the only big stories ...

  • Tim McGraw and wife Faith Hill pushed into new territory, making well-received strides into the movies.
  • Country favorites like Reba McEntire and Jeff Foxworthy found big audiences on TV.
  • Shania Twain and Kenny ruled the road with the year's biggest tours.
  • Members of Lonestar, Rascal Flatts and Trick Pony got hitched. Sara Evans, Kenny Rogers and others welcomed new babies.
  • We bid sad farewells to legends like Ray Charles and Skeeter Davis.
  • Country stars traveled to hostile lands to buck up the morale of American troops.
  • To read more 2004 country music highlights, pick up the new Country Weekly on newsstands today!