Since 2014, The Boot has hosted the Golden Boot Awards, our very own fan-voted digital awards series, each spring. Beginning in 2018, however, the Golden Boot Awards are moving: Now, they will take place at the end of the year, to better align with the annual news cycle ... and to make way for the all-new Golden Mic Awards.

Recognizing the best in live country and Americana music, The Boot's Golden Mic Awards are debuting in 2018 with nine categories, each featuring staff-selected nominees who rule the stage. This week (April 23-27), The Boot will reveal 2018's Golden Mic Awards categories ... and then, it will be up to you, our readers, to crown the winners.

After each Golden Mic Awards category is revealed, readers will be able to vote for their preferred winner in each category as often as once per hour through 11:59PM ET on May 23. We'll announce the winners on the site the next day, May 24.

You never quite know what's going to happen live -- that's the beauty of it. Sometimes, it's a surprise duet or an unexpected cover; other times, it's simply are really important show. These 10 moments were major live happenings in the past year.

Last April, a collection of some of country's biggest stars gathered to honor the musical legacy of Merle Haggard during Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle HaggardThe event featured performances from some of Haggard's closest friends and family members, such as his son Ben Haggard, along with tributes from Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Loretta Lynn and dozens of other icons within the genre. The show underscored Haggard's continued impact on the genre, as he was an influence to many of today's biggest country names.

She's back! Shania Twain made a memorable return to country music in 2017, when she debuted "Life's About to Get Good," the lead single on her first album in 15 years, onstage at the 2017 Stagecoach Country Music Festival. Following her painful and messy divorce from her then-husband Robert John "Mutt" Lange in 2008, Twain told the New York Post that she didn't think she'd be able to sing ever again. Fortunately for her fans, Twain emerged on the other side of heartbreak triumphant and with plans for a new album.

In June of 2017, up-and-comer Ashley McBryde made her Grand Ole Opry debut with "Girl Goin' Nowhere," in an emotional performance that clearly had deep personal resonance for the country artist. The song is about following dreams, and not listening to naysayers who insist that those dreams are out of reach. McBryde included a special pair of lines directly tailored to her first performance at the legendary hall: "And I step into this circle / With a Gibson in my hand," she sang, fighting back happy tears, and the crowd cheered.

In the wake of the devastating Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, country star Jason Aldean, who was onstage performing when shots broke out, appeared during the Oct. 7 Saturday Night Live episode's "cold open" segment to give a performance of Tom Petty's iconic song "I Won't Back Down." The song choice was both a reflection on the tragedy and a tribute to Petty, who died that same week. Aldean also addressed the audience in a statement of solidarity with the victims, saying, "You can be sure we're going to walk through these tough times together, every step of the way."

In another tribute to the victims of the Route 91 massacre, country superstar Eric Church debuted a new song, "Why Not Me," at the Grand Ole Opry on Oct. 4, 2017. Having headlined the Vegas-based festival earlier in the weekend, Church was emotional onstage as he described seeing a CNN interview with Heather Melton, the widow of shooting victim Sonny Melton, who explained that the couple had come to the festival because her husband was a Church fan.

Kenny Rogers officially announced in 2016 that he planned to retire in order to focus on his family, and last October, his fans and famous friends alike flocked to All in for the Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration in Nashville, Tenn. Little Big Town, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton,  Linda Davis and countless others contributed to the show. The idea originated with Parton, Rogers' longtime collaborator, who told Rogers, "You can't leave without me and you going out onstage for the very last time and singing something," Rogers recalled in a press release before the show.

In September of 2017, the world lost Troy Gentry, half of the country duo Montgomery Gentry, in a helicopter crash. That November, at the CMA Awards, country trio Rascal Flatts joined forces with Dierks Bentley in memory of Gentry with a performance of the Montgomery Gentry hit "My Town." Montgomery Gentry's final project, Here's to Youwas released in February of 2018.

Chris Stapleton kept Saturday Night Live audiences on their toes this year when he brought a surprise guest out onstage for his January performance. Sturgill Simpson was Stapleton's guest star on his version of "Midnight Train to Memphis" as well as "Hard Living" for a rousing performance between the two iconic country artists.

Miranda Lambert brought some old friends on tour with her during her 2018 Livin' Like Hippies TourAngaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe joined Lambert onstage in March. Together, the three make up the Pistol Annies, and although the group has not released new music since 2013, the artists have hinted, as they've released their various solo projects, that a reunion is in the works. During their set onstage in 2018, the Annies performed their hit "Hell on Heels" as well as "Takin' Pills."

For the most part, Carrie Underwood stayed out of the spotlight after she suffered a serious fall, which required surgery on her wrist and dozens of stitches to her face, outside her home in Nashville in November. In a January message to her fan club members, the star also indicated that she might look a bit different the next time she appeared onstage, due to her facial injury. However, Underwood was radiant at her return performance at the 2018 ACM Awards, during which she debuted her new single, "Cry Pretty," in an emotional event that rocked the crowd.

Which of these live moments was your favorite of the year? Cast your vote in the poll below.

Country Music's Best Live Albums

More From 102.7 KORD