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Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Kentucky. and Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees

The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Renfro Valley, was to induct its 2008 batch of Hall of Fame honorees late last month. Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn was to be on hand to induct her baby sister, long-locked country-pop singer Brenda Gail Webb, known the world around as Crystal Gayle. Born in Paintsville, Kentucky, Gayle's family left the coalmines of Kentucky when she was a youngster and raised her in northern Indiana.

Pikeville-born honky-tonker Dwight Yoakam was also among this year's inductees. He is best known for preserving the Bakersfield country sound and promoting the legend of his late pal, Buck Owens. Norro Wilson, who hails from Scottsville, Kentucky, is a famed country record producer and songwriter, having written Charlie Rich's "Most Beautiful Girl," Tammy Wynette's "Another Lonely Song" and George Jones' "The Grand Tour."

Other inductees were to include actress, talk show host and singer Florence Henderson (born in Owensboro), best known for her role as mother Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch." Lexington native and jazz musician Les McCann was also to be inducted in the 2008 class of honorees.

For more information regarding the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum, log on to www.KYMusicHallofFame.com.

Nashville's Country Music Association recently announced its batch of artists to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year. Olive Hill, Kentucky native Tom T. Hall, ("The Storyteller") who wrote "Harper Valley P.T.A." and "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine," will be honored later this year with a plaque in the rotunda at downtown Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Hall will be included in the World War II-1975 induction period, along with the famed country/gospel quartet The Statler Brothers, known for hits like "Flowers on the Wall" and "Bed of Rose's." The pre-WW II induction period includes the late Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman, the patriarch of the Stoneman family band, which landed the 1967 CMA Vocal Group of the Year award. The 1975-present induction period will, appropriately, honor country/folk songbird Emmylou Harris, four-time winner of the Best Female Country Vocal Performance GRAMMY award. These Hall of Fame inductees will be officially inducted later this year and will be recognized during the CMA Awards program this fall.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Whole Lot of 'Cheat'ing at the GRAMMYs

When the 50thAnnual GRAMMY Awards were handed out last month, there was a whole lotta 'cheat'ing going on, especially when it came to country's Carrie Underwood. Underwood's "Before He Cheats" was the big country winner. She took home the GRAMMY trophy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her recording of the song, written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, while the song garnered the Best Country Song award. Best Male Country Vocal Performance went to Mr. Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, for "Stupid Boy." The Eagles made a huge comeback last year with a country album, beating out Brooks and Dunn, Emerson Drive and Montgomery Gentry to take home the Best Country Performance Duo or Group with Vocal for "How Long." Best Country Collaboration with Vocals went to the legendary Willie Nelson and Ray Price for "Lost Highway." Brad Paisley didn't go home empty handed, capturing the Best Country Instrumental Performance for "Throttleneck." Vince Gill proved he's still got it when he beat out veteran George Strait, as well as Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley for the Best Country Album trophy for his four-disc album, These Days.

Other country-related wins include Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album which went to Ricky Skaggs and The Whites for Salt of the Earth; Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and country/bluegrass princess Alison Krauss captured Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)"; and the late Johnny Cash bested Feist, Gnarls Barkley, Justice and Mute Math for the Best Short Form Music Video for "God's Gonna Cut You Down."

During last month's awards program, famed bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs was recognized as a recipient of the Record Academy's Lifetime Achievement award.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Dolly Parton Releases New Album and Postpones Tour

It has been seventeen years since international superstar Dolly Parton released a mainstream country album, but that changed late last month. Parton released Backwoods Barbie on her very own newly formed Dolly Records. She was scheduled to begin a U.S. tour to support the new album on February 28 in Minneapolis, but she was forced to postpone the tour until late April due to doctor's orders. Due to an undisclosed back problem, they advised the petite, 5'1" singer/songwriter to rest for six to eight weeks to recover.

Parton joked that her famed anatomy might have caused her back pain. "I know I have been breaking my neck and bending over backwards trying to get my new Backwoods BarbieCD and world tour together, but I didn't mean to hurt myself doing it! But hey, you try wagging these puppies around a while and see if you don't have back problems. Seriously though, the doctors said I will be good as new in a few weeks and I can't wait to get back out there."

Once the tour begins, Parton will head across the great pond later this spring/summer for several sold-out European dates.

John Rich Going $olo for Awhile

As I announced last month, Big Kenny Alphin, half of the duo Big and Rich, is cutting back on touring this year to concentrate on physical rehabilitation from neck problems sustained in an accident several years ago. With Big Kenny's blessing, the 2005, 2006 and 2007 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year John Rich will be going solo this year. Rich says, "If anyone knows me, they know I'm always writing music. When we decided to take this year off so Kenny could focus on rehabilitation for a pre-existing injury, I asked Kenny if he was cool with me recording a solo project. I would only do this with Kenny's blessing. So, this year you can expect a solo record from me, but Big and Rich will be back in 2009."

CMT Music Awards Nominees

First-round nominees for the 2008 CMT Music Awards were recently announced in 13 categories for Country Music Television's fan-voted awards show. Sugarland topped the list of nominees with five nods for their heartfelt tune "Stay" and "Everyday America." "Stay" landed Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush nods for Video of the Year, Duo Video of the Year, Tearjerker Video of the Year and Performance of the Year. "Everyday America" was also nominated for Duo Video of the Year. Brad Paisley's "Online" captured six nominations, including overall Video of the Year, Male Video of the Year, Comedy Video of the Year and three nods for Supporting Character of the Year for actors Jason Alexander, Maureen McCormick and William Shatner.

First-round voting was to run through February 25 on CMT.com. On March 6, CMT will announce the four finalists in each category except for Video of the Year. Fans can vote online through April 11 and the winners will be revealed during the live telecast on April 14.

And the first-round nominees are: Video of the Year: Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You," Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink," LeAnn Rimes' "Nothin' Better to Do," Brad Paisley's "Online," Taylor Swift's "Our Song," Sugarland's "Stay," Rascal Flatts' "Take Me There," and Carrie Underwood's "Wasted"; Female Video of the Year: Martina McBride's "Anyway," Sara Evans' "As If," Gretchen Wilson's "Come to Bed," Miranda Lambert's "Famous in a Small Town," LeAnn Rimes' "Nothin' Better to Do," Taylor Swift's "Our Song," and Carrie Underwood's "So Small" and "Wasted"; Male Video of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink," Josh Turner's "Firecracker," Toby Keith's "High Maintenance Woman," Trace Adkins' "I Got My Game On," Keith Urban's "I Told You So," Jason Aldean's "Johnny Cash," Brad Paisley's "Online," and Alan Jackson's "Small Town Southern Man," and Duo Video of the Year: Big and Rich's "Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace" and "Lost in this Moment," Sugarland's "Everyday America" and "Stay," Van Zant's "Goes Down Easy," Brooks and Dunn's "Proud of the House We Built," and Montgomery Gentry's "What Do Ya Think About That."

Group Video of the Year: Little Big Town's "A Little More You," Eagles' "How Long," Old Crow Medicine Show's "I Hear Them All," Lady Antebellum's "Love Don't Live Here," Randy Rogers Band's "One More Goodbye," Rascal Flatts' "Stand" and "Take Me There," and Bon Jovi's "(You Want To) Make a Memory"; Collaborative Video of the Year: Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You," Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)," Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "I Need You," Alison Krauss and John Waite's "Missing You," Bon Jovi and LeAnn Rimes' "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore," and Garth Brooks and Huey Lewis' "Workin' for a Livin'"; Tearjerker Video of the Year: Jason Meadows' "18 Video Tapes," Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You," Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink," Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "I Need You," Kellie Pickler's "I Wonder," Big and Rich's "Lost In This Moment," Billy Ray Cyrus' "Ready, Set, Don't Go," and Sugarland's "Stay"; and Comedy Video of the Year: Luke Bryan's "All My Friends Say," Toby Keith's "High Maintenance Woman," Dale Watson's "Hollywood Hillbilly," Trace Adkins' "I Got My Game On," Brad Paisley's "Online," Blake Shelton's "The More I Drink," Sarah Jones' "The One in the Middle," and Shooter Jennings' "Walk of Life."

USA WeekendBreakthrough Video of the Year: Bucky Covington's "A Different World," Luke Bryan's "All My Friends Say," Eric Church's "Guys Like Me," Kellie Pickler's "I Wonder," Jason Michael Carroll's "Livin' Our Love Song," Lady Antebellum's "Love Don't Live Here," Jake Owen's "Startin' With Me," and Chuck Wicks' "Stealing Cinderella"; Video Director of the Year: Deaton Flanigen, Trey Fanjoy, David McClister, Charles Mehling, Michael Salomon, Rocky Schenck, Shaun Silva and Roman White; Performance of the Year: Dierks Bentley's "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)," Keith Urban and Alicia Keys' "Gimme Shelter," Miranda Lambert and Jack Ingram's "Gunpowder and Lead," Kellie Pickler's "I Wonder," Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This," Big and Rich and John Legend's "Lost in this Moment," Sugarland's "Stay," and LeAnn Rimes and Joss Stone's "Tell Me 'Bout It"; Wide Open Country Video of the Year: Dwight Yoakam's "Close Up the Honky Tonks," Billy Joe Shaver's "Get Thee Behind Me Satan," Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)," Willie Nelson's "Gravedigger," Eagles' "How Long," Old Crow Medicine Show's "I Hear Them All," Jack Ingram's "Measure of a Man," and Shooter Jennings' "Walk of Life"; and Supporting Character of the Year: Rodney Carrington in "I Got My Game On," James Denton in "Justice for All," Jason Alexander, Maureen McCormick and William Shatner in "Online," Christian Kane in "So Small," Tyler Hilton in "Teardrops on My Guitar," and Drea De Matteo in "Walk of Life."

Carrie Underwood Continues Breaking Records

Since being crowned the 2005 American Idol, country sweetheart Carrie Underwood's career has played out like a fairytale. In addition to several CMA Awards, ACM Awards and GRAMMY Awards, Underwood has made history with her debut album, Some Hearts. Released on November 15, 2005, this album has produced four chart-topping hits: "Jesus, Take the Wheel," "Don't Forget to Remember Me," "Before He Cheats," and "Wasted"; has topped the BillboardTop Country Albums chart for a whopping 27 weeks; and has sold more than seven million copies. This feat makes Some Heartsthe best-selling solo female country debut album in history, as well as the best-selling CD of any AIcontestant, including the original American Idol turned Reba McEntire tour-mate, Kelly Clarkson. Some Heartswas the Top Country Album of 2006 and 2007 (as reported by Billboardmagazine), giving Underwood the honor of being the first female artist to have back-to-back honors for Top Country Album.

Underwood's follow-up sophomore album, Carnival Ride, has proven that Underwood is here to stay. The album has already produced the #1 hit "So Small," and the second release, "All American Girl," is quickly rising up the charts. Since its release in October 2007, Carnival Ridehas already sold over two million copies. It and Some Heartshelped crown Underwood the Billboard 200 Top-Selling Female Artist of 2007.

Congratulations, Carrie! Keep up the good work.

Country Family Life

Jessica Harp, who makes up The Wreckers ("Leave the Pieces") along with Michelle Branch, took the big plunge and was married last month. Harp married violinist and The Wreckers' bandmate Jason Mowery at an art gallery outside of Nashville on February 4. Harp seemed ecstatic on her wedding day, claiming "today totally exceeded my expectations." Following the honeymoon, Harp will concentrate on a solo album this year before possibly reuniting with Branch sometime next year.

Dixie Chicks fiddler Martie Maguire recently announced that the stork is going to visit her and husband Garth later this year. A baby girl will join twin older sisters, who were born in April 2004. Looks like the Chicks might be needing a bigger nest.

As I recently reported, Joe Nichols and his wife of five months, Heather, were expecting their first child. Sadly, Nichols told press recently that Heather suffered a miscarriage on January 22. Rumors began circulating of a possible relapse since entering rehab late last year when Nichols cancelled several scheduled interviews recently. He released the following statement: "There seem to be a few rumors flying around as to why I had to cancel a day of interviews today and I want to let you, the people who have stood by me through so much, know what's going on. Heather was in the early stages of pregnancy and we found out Tuesday afternoon that we lost the baby. My family is the most important thing in the world to me, so it was necessary to postpone these interviews. We are doing well and I just want to say again how much we both appreciate all of you."

Well, that's all for this month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."

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