Live music was a limited commodity in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic shuttered nearly every music venue in the country. It was a difficult time for music fans as concerts and festivals were canceled all year long. But country music didn’t go away. Musicians and fans just had to find new ways to connect this year.
And 2020 didn’t lack for great performances despite the lack of options. The only drawback being fans were forced to watch them all from home. But that didn’t hinder most of the performances, and it helped others.
Here are some of our favorites from this year:
Some of the Top Country Music Performances of 2020
Charley Pride & Jimmie Allen
Charley Pride was one of the most influential country music icons of his generation. Not only did he rack up a mind-boggling number of No. 1 hit songs, he did so in an era where country music excluded black men and women.
Seeing the CMAs honor him with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in November was well deserved. But it was also his final live performance making it even more precious. Pride died in December from complications of COVID-19. He was 86.
Brad Paisley Hits the Drive-in Circuit
The coronavirus shuttered nearly every entertainment venue in the country. That meant performers would have to find a way to reach their audience. Some went virtual. Some spent their downtime working on new albums. Others found a way to still fulfill that itch for live music.
While there are obvious disadvantages of going from packed civic centers to a crowd of Honda Civics, Paisley made it work. He even was able to work in guest appearances from some of his famous duets and had fans Skype in to take part to take part in the performance.
Dolly Parton ‘9 to 5’
Dolly Parton is timeless. She’s been crunching out hit after hit for decades and continues to be one of the most electric and interesting performers in the country. She proved it again during a rendition of her classic “9 to 5” during the Billboard Women In Music Awards earlier this month where she was given the Hitmaker award.
It was just another milestone in what has been the more interesting years for a human being ever. Parton put out an album, a Christmas movie on Netflix, raised millions for charity including her own Imagination Library, and helped fund research for a vaccine for the most deadly pandemic in more than 100 years. She’s better than the rest of us. Accept that.
Morgan Wallen ‘More Than My Hometown’
Morgan Wallen had a massive year. Despite a small hiccup over his problematic partying at the University of Alabama that got his performance on Saturday Night Live postponed for several weeks, Wallen showed he was one of country music’s biggest rising stars in 2020.
At this year’s CMAs, Wallen not only walked away with the Best New Artist Award, but he also proved why he won it in the first place. His performance of “More Than My Hometown,” his ode to his hometown of Sneedville, Tenn., was one of the best performances of the night.
Miley Cyrus & Noah Cyrus ‘I Got So High I Saw Jesus’
Noah Cyrus had a few memorable performances this year. Sometimes for the wrong reasons, but she absolutely stepped into her own in 2020. She also proved her voice could hang with big sister Miley’s during their MTV: Unplugged concert. The standout of that show was clearly their performance of “I Got So High I Saw Jesus.”
Noah Cyrus will close out the year with a New Year’s Eve performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.