(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Here's Tay at Schermerhorn Symphony Center in December of 2011--showing off her Harmony Award from the Nashville Symphony.

Every year, some of the top country music writers in the country are asked to vote on their favorites in the genre. This year, nearly 100 writers voted and named some of the newest kids on the country block the best. Never fear, old favorites like Taylor Swift, who, at 24 is hardly old, made the list as well.

Record sales are great, but if an artist can't deliver on stage, they will find their popularity in a free fall.

  1. Taylor Swift - Taylor came in at #1 in 2010 on the heels of the Fearless Tour and then dropped to #9 in 2011. 2012 saw a near comeback when she finished the year at #2, followed by a drop to #6 last year. Being in the top 10 every year is nothing to sneeze at, but for this hard working country gal, being back at #1 as she readies for the European leg of her Red Tour has to be satisfying.
  2. The Mavericks - Two short years after their return from an 8-year break, the country-steeped garage band from Miami with a Cuban American lead singer made their first appearance in the poll.
  3. Keith Urban - Anyone who worried that the country crooner would let his touring schedule and stage magic slide when he singed on to become a judge on American Idol need not have been concerned. If his 3rd place spot is any indication, he hasn't missed a step.
  4. Miranda Lambert - For the second year in a row, Miranda comes in at #4 on the list of best live acts while her husband, the popular Blake Shelton, isn't in the top 10.
  5. Eric Church - Eric slipped two spots this year, coming in just below the woman that cleaned his clock over a comment he made to Rolling Stone about reality music competitions that wasn't very nice.
  6. Brad Paisley - He came in at #5 last year and may have slipped a tiny bit, but this man loves the road and his audiences love him right back.
  7. Zac Brown Band - Twelve years ago, ZBB was playing nearly 200 shows a year (and this was before they even had a tour bus). While they don't play quite that many shows now, it's all about quality and that is one commodity that the Zac Brown Band has in spades.
  8. Jason Isbell - The guy from Green Hill, Alabama may not be a household name like Taylor Swift or Keith Urban, but he's got one heck of a stage presence and fans and critics alike adore his music.
  9. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell - With a Grammy nod for Best Americana Album and a spot on the Top 10 Best Live Country Acts list, 2014 is going to be a great year for these two (and it's only January!)
  10. George Strait - It's fitting that the legend made the list this year as his current "Cowboy Rides Away" tour is said to be his last.