The 31st Annual TNN Music City News Country Awards were handed out last month at the Grand Ole Opry House. Alan Jackson and Lorrie Morgan were the big winners, with two trophies each. Alan held on to the Entertainer and Male Artist of the Year Awards, while Lorrie Morgan was named Female Artist and she and husband Jon Randall won for Vocal Collaboration for "By My Side." Flatwoods, Ky.'s own Billy Ray Cyrus made the Bluegrass state proud by capturing the trophy for Single of the Year for his self-penned "Trail Of Tears."
The winners are:
Entertainer of the Year: Alan Jackson; Male Artist of the Year: Alan Jackson; Female Artist of the Year: Lorrie Morgan; Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn; Vocal Group: Statler Brothers; and Vocal Band: Sawyer Brown.
Star of Tomorrow – Male: Wade Hayes; Star of Tomorrow – Female: LeAnn Rimes; Christian Country Artist: Ricky Van Shelton; Album of the Year: Blue Clear Sky by George Strait; Single of the Year: "Trail Of Tears" by Billy Ray Cyrus.
Video of the Year: "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" by Neal McCoy; Vocal Collaboration of the Year: "By My Side" by Lorrie Morgan & Jon Randall; Comedian of the Year: Jeff Foxworthy; Living Legend Award: Charley Pride; and Minnie Pearl Award: George "Goober" Lindsey
Despite the fact that Ashland, Ky. native Naomi Judd's recent restaurant adventure Trilogy was not a success, the former country music princess is preparing to share her family's favorite recipes with the world. Naomi's very own cookbook, Naomi's Home Companion: A Treasury of Favorite Recipes, Food for Thought, and Kitchen Wit and Wisdom, is scheduled to hit bookstores in late October.
Superstar Vince Gill is being honored by his home state of Oklahoma for his generosity in time of need. The Norman, Oklahoma native was recently honored as one of eight recipients of the Pathmaker Award for his contributions to Oklahoma City after the tragic 1995 Federal Building bombing. In addition, Vince will be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame later this year by the Oklahoma Heritage Association. This honor will be bestowed upon Vince during a ceremony scheduled to be held on November 23.
Junior Brown, who won the Country Music Association Video of the Year Award for "My Wife Thinks You're Dead," will be showing off his trademark guit-steel instrument soon in a series of Gap Jeans commercials. Don't look for Junior in a tight pair of Gap jeans though. Junior says, "Me in a tight pair of jeans is a pretty disgusting sight. They have me with a jacket on, just sittin' around playin' the instrument and singing."
Junior always loved to play the guitar and the steel guitar and his idea to create the guit-steel came to him in a dream. He says, "I woke up from the dream and arranged the guitar and the steel on the bed and said, 'You know, if I could fuse these together, I'd be alright.'" Well, Junior did just that and now he has what he calls "the double-neck biscuit board."
Hot newcomer Lee Ann Womack, whose smash debut "Never Again, Again" is rapidly approaching the Top 20 on the country charts, recently fulfilled a lifelong dream as she made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Although she was supposed to be asleep, as a child Lee Ann used to lie on the floor of her bedroom with her stereo speakers pressed against her ears so she could listen to the Grand Ole Opry. While her dream came true performing her debut tune on the Opry, Lee Ann nervously stood still. When asked why, she said, "If I'd moved, I would've peed in my pants!"
Not only did Lee Ann wow the Opry crowd, but she has also bowled over fellow singer Alan Jackson. Alan loves Lee Ann's self-titled debut album so much that he reportedly bought 25 copies to put in every boat, every car, every bus, and every CD player that he has so he can listen to it wherever he is. Needless to say, Lee Ann is in awe and says, "That's amazing. I can't believe it."
Reba McEntire's husband and manager, Narvel Blackstock, has announced that their entertainment empire, known as Starstruck Entertainment, is cutting its management and publicity divisions to focus its attention strictly on Reba and her career. This means that 16 clients such as Joe Diffie, Jo Dee Messina, Billy Dean, Ty Herndon, Rhett Akins, and Linda Davis will have to find new managers and/or publicists. Starstruck officials say the company will continue to work with these clients until each finds new management and publicity.
Narvel and Reba decided to make this drastic change to broaden Reba's music career internationally to Australia, Asia, and South America, and to direct their attentions to their recently established movie company, called Starstruck Films, in Southern California. This change can also be attributed to a current flood of country artists. Narvel says, "We're spread about two-miles wide and an inch deep."
58-year-old country crooner Kenny Rogers tied the knot for the fifth time June 1 as he and 30-year-old Wanda Miller were married on the singer's Georgia estate. Things did not go off without a hitch though. Animal rights activists protested outside of Kenny's estate holding signs and throwing chicken feed, dressed in chicken suits. The protest was sparked by the idea that chicken suppliers for Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants declaw and de-beak their chickens without anesthesia.
No one was protesting as Kenny made his first Fan Fair appearance recently in nearly 10 years to promote his upcoming new record, Across My Heart, due in record stores July 15. Following his performance, Kenny's manager, Ken Kragen, Warner/Reprise President Jim Ed Norman, producer Jim Mazza, CMA Executive Director Ed Benson, and Magnatone Records President Colin Stewart were all on hand to present Kenny a plaque commemorating record sales in excess of 80 million worldwide.
Kenny said of the honor, "One of the things that I always wanted was to have a final tally of where we are today so that I can at least have my moment in history. This is something I will truly treasure."
Ricky Van Shelton is scheduled to hit store shelves this month with his brand new album Making Plans, the first album on his own newly established record label. Fans won't be able to find it in just any store though because Ricky Van has teamed up with Wal-Mart, which will have the exclusive right to sell this 12-song compact disc for a mere $8.96. Included on this record are the first single, "She Needs Me," and a tune called "If You Wanna Go Just Say Goodbye," written by Joe Chambers, the man who wrote Ricky Van's "Somebody Lied."
Trisha Yearwood's "How Do I Live," which is featured in the box office smash, Con Air, starring Nicolas Cage and John Malkovich, is not the only country tune included on a movie's soundtrack. "Reading My Heart," which appears on Lorrie Morgan's latest album, Greater Need, can also be heard in Trial and Error, which stars Seinfeld's Michael Richards and Jeff Daniels.
Gone Fishin', which stars Danny Glover and Joe Peschi, features Willie Nelson's performance of "Down In The Everglades." And Mary-Chapin Carpenter can be heard singing her rendition of Dionne Warwick's "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" in Julia Roberts' upcoming new movie, My Best Friend's Wedding.
Superstar Alan Jackson, who was once again named the TNN Music City News Country Awards Entertainer and Male Artist of the Year, says that he and wife Denise have chosen the name Dani Grace for their third daughter due in September. Dani will be named after Denise's father Daniel. Alan says, "He doesn't have a grandson, so we're going to give him a little girl named Dani."
Alan's oldest daughter, Mattie Denise, turned seven-years-old last month, and his second daughter, Alexandra Jane, better known as Ali, will turn four-years-old in August.
Fans flocked to the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Music Row during Fan Fair week as Lee Roy Parnell was honored with his very own star on the famous Walk of Fame. Following the presentation of the star, Lee Roy and his band treated his fans to some live tunes and offered some heartfelt thanks. He said, "I've got some of the greatest friends and greatest fans, and if I die tomorrow it will be alright, 'cause I ain't never gonna feel as good as I feel tonight."
The names of the 1997 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees were recently leaked out by the Nashville newspaper The Tennessean. Although the names weren't scheduled to be released until August, the Country Music Association has confirmed that the dynamic entertainer Brenda Lee and songwriters Harlan Howard and Cindy Walker will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the annual Country Music Association awards program in October.
The heat is on, meaning only one thing: the Kentucky State Fair. Vince Gill and Bryan White are scheduled to roll into Louisville on Sat., Aug. 16. The Oak Ridge Boys will make their annual appearance at the fair on Sunday, Aug. 17. On Tuesday, Aug. 19, the Kentucky Headhunters and the Buffalo Club will entertain fair-goers, followed by Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesnutt on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Terri Clark will have fans on their feet come Friday, Aug. 22, and The Moffatts, Ricochet, and Nicholasville's John Michael Montgomery will close out the fair on Sunday, Aug. 24. Tickets for all fair shows go on sale at 10:00 AM on Monday, July 7 at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center, as well as all Ticketmaster outlets. Please call ticket outlets before heading out to purchase tickets, as most locations have ticket limits, special restricted methods of payment, etc.
Lee Ann Womack will make her Louisville debut on the 4th of July at the Riverpoint Festival. Keep your ears open for a performance by Lyle Lovett on July 18. And my guess is that several radio listeners will have the time of their life at the Louisville Motor Speedway on Wednesday, July 23 as hot newcomers Deana Carter and Trace Adkins roll into town to perform.
Well, that's it for now. Always remember: Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way.