School's out and summer's just around the corner, meaning just one thing: it's International Country Music Fan Fair time, the biggest event of the year for country music. And one of the biggest events of Fan Fair is the annual TNN Music City News Country Awards. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy will once again host this year's awards ceremony, which will be held on Monday, June 14 at the Nashville Arena. If you would like to cruise to Nashville and be a part of the action, tickets can be purchased by calling TicketMaster at (615) 255-9600. Ticket prices are $100, $75 and $50. If these prices frighten your wallet, then you're still in luck as the awards will be telecast live on The Nashville Network.
This year's nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Neal McCoy, George Strait and Shania Twain; Male Vocalist: Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and George Strait; Female Vocalist: Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain and Trisha Yearwood; Vocal Band: Alabama, BlackHawk, Diamond Rio, Dixie Chicks and Sawyer Brown; and Vocal Duo/Group: Brooks & Dunn, The Kinleys, The Lynns, The Statler Brothers and The Wilkinsons.
Star of Tomorrow-Male: Gary Allan, Keith Harling, Michael Peterson, Sons of the Desert and The Wilkinsons; Star of Tomorrow-Female: Dixie Chicks, Anita Cochran, Sara Evans, The Kinleys and Lila McCann; Vocal Collaboration: Brooks & Dunn & Reba McEntire's "If You See Him/If You See Her," Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks' "Where Your Road Leads," Shania Twain & Bryan White's "From This Moment On," Faith Hill & Tim McGraw's "Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me," and Sara Evans & Vince Gill's "No Place That Far"; and Single of the Year: Mark Wills' "Don't Laugh At Me," Steve Wariner's "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven," George Strait's "I Just Want To Dance With You," Alan Jackson's "I'll Go On Loving You," and Faith Hill's "This Kiss."
Song of the Year: Mark Wills' "Don't Laugh At Me," Steve Wariner's "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven," George Strait's "I Just Want To Dance With You," Faith Hill & Tim McGraw's "Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me," and Faith Hill's "This Kiss"; Video of the Year: Mark Wills' "Don't Laugh At Me," Toby Keith's "Getcha Some," Steve Wariner's "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven," Alan Jackson's "I'll Go On Loving You," and Faith Hill's "This Kiss"; and Album of the Year: Shania Twain's Come On Over, Faith Hill's Faith, Alan Jackson's High Mileage, George Strait's One Step At A Time and the Dixie Chicks' Wide Open Spaces.
Artists scheduled to perform on this awards show include Gary Allan, Anita Cochran, Diamond Rio, Sara Evans, Vince Gill, Keith Harling, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, The Kinleys, Tim McGraw, Michael Peterson, Sawyer Brown, Sons of the Desert and The Wilkinsons. Also scheduled to make appearances are Terri Clark, Joe Diffie, John Michael Montgomery, Kenny Rogers and Mark Wills.
Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees!
And while we're on the subject of Fan Fair, if you're heading south to Nashville for all the festivities, you may want to head down early to catch the 9th Annual Wrangler/City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge on Sun., June 13 at 1 p.m. EDT at Greer Stadium, home of the Nashville Sounds. Radio stations WSM and WSIX will play a game of stickball with the likes of Gary Allan, T. Graham Brown, Neal McCoy, Montgomery Gentry, Ricochet, Kenny Rogers, Bryan White, The Wilkinsons, Mark Wills, Lee Ann Womack and Chely Wright. This event raises money to support the City of Hope National Medical Center and the Beckman Research Institute to help prevent and cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster by calling (615) 255-9600. If you would like to make a donation to this worthy cause, you can do so by writing to: City of Hope, 208 W. 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014, or by calling: 1-800-260-HOPE, ext. 6540.
When the annual Academy of Country Music Awards were handed out last month in Calif., Tim McGraw and Faith Hill officially became the "First Couple of Country Music" as they were named Male Vocalist and Female Vocalist of the Year. In addition, Faith walked home with the trophy for Single of the Year and Video of the Year for her ever-so-popular "This Kiss," and the happy couple's duet "Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me" captured the Vocal Event of the Year Award.
Although Mr. and Mrs. McGraw caused quite a stir, the big moment came when none other than Garth Brooks was named both Entertainer of the Year and Artist of the Decade. With his usual humility, Garth did not feel deserving for the Artist of the Decade honor and wanted to share it with two of his peers. He said, "For me, there's two artists in our industry that I think we have very much taken for granted - I don't mean to offend anybody, I'm just telling you like it is." Garth proceeded to state that he wanted to cut his plaque in half. "George (Strait) isn't here for one half. The other half, I think we need to give to an artist that has given everything an artist can give to country music and I don't think has been thanked near enough," Garth continued as he left the stage in search for Reba McEntire, who happened to not be in her seat at the moment. Needless to say, the crowd went wild.
And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks; Female Vocalist: Faith Hill; Male Vocalist: Tim McGraw; Duet or Group: The Dixie Chicks; New Female Vocalist: Jo Dee Messina; New Male Vocalist: Mark Wills; and New Group or Duet: The Dixie Chicks.
Album of the Year: The Dixie Chicks' Wide Open Spaces; Song: Steve Wariner's "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven"; Single Record: Faith Hill's "This Kiss"; Vocal Event: Faith Hill & Tim McGraw's "Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me"; Video: Faith Hill's "This Kiss"; and Pioneer Award: Glen Campbell.
And the winners in the instrumentalist categories are: Bass: Glenn Worf; Drums: Eddie Bayers; Fiddle: Stuart Duncan (who is the son-in-law of Becke Lott, manager of the Shelbyville Road Disc Jockey Records); Guitar: Brent Mason; Keyboard: Matt Rollings; Specialty instrument: Jerry Douglas (dobro); and Steel Guitar: Paul Franklin.
Radio Station of the Year: Nashville's WSIX-FM; Disc Jockey: Moby of WKHX-FM in Atlanta; Nightclub: Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon; Concert Promoter: Nashville's Jimmy Jay; and Casino: Las Vegas Hilton.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Country rocker, actor and Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam is currently in Arizona making his movie directorial debut, but he'll be headed our way at the end of the month, as he will be performing live in concert at the Palace Theatre on June 29. Tickets for this show are already available at the box office. Until the end of June, Dwight will be busy directing "South of Heaven, West of Hell," as well as acting in the movie for which he co-wrote the script. Co-starring alongside of Dwight will be his pal and "Sling Blade" co-star Billy Bob Thornton.
The wrongful death lawsuit invoked by the late Tammy Wynette's four daughters continues, but has taken an interesting turn. The girls had been suing Tammy's husband and manager, George Richey, along with her doctor, Dr. Wallis Marsh, but they recently forever dropped Richey from the lawsuit. Although the report has not come back from the April 14 autopsy that was performed on the "First Lady of Country Music's" body, Tammy's daughters continue to blame Dr. Marsh for the death of their mother and continue their lawsuit against him.
Upon the dismissal of Tammy's widow from this highly publicized case, George Richey's lawyer said that "no money changed hands" and that Richey supposedly agreed to forfeit all of his rights to any money that may be recovered from this wrongful death suit. He also promised not to sue his step-daughters over the "untrue statements" they have made concerning him.
Keep reading this column each month as this saga continues.
We can't talk about the late "First Lady of Country Music" and not talk about the "King of Country Music," Tammy Wynette's former husband and duet partner, George Jones. "No-Show Jones" pleaded guilty last month to two alcohol-related charges raised from his March 6 near-fatal accident. George admitted that "there's no use in lying to the public," pleading guilty to the charges of driving while impaired (DWI) and violating the open container law. A reckless driving charge was dropped under the condition that JOnes complete an alcohol treatment program within a year. In addition to paying for the repair of the bridge he struck in his Lexus SUV, George must pay $550 in fines.
George Jones has made the following statement: "I look for this to be the final wake-up call and I think we're going to have our lives straightened out after this. You know, I don't remember much about the day of the accident, but I do know that I was drinking and, obviously, my driving was impaired. I did wrong that day and I take full responsibility for what happened. I've had a life of long struggles with alcohol and I thought I had it won, since I had been sober for more than about 12 years. The past year has been a tough one for me, but there are no excuses for what I did. Truthfully, the struggle never ends and I will get treatment to help me cope better. I am grateful to the grand jury for being fair - the whole system was fair. I am extremely grateful to my family, friends and fans for all their support and prayers."
Jones continued to say, "I came very close to death and I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways and He spared me. I can only believe that He still has work for me to do here. I believe He still wants me to sing and I'm eager to get back out on the road and bring my music to the people. Again, I'm sorry for the hurt and confusion that my actions have caused."
When it comes to family, country crooner Clay Walker's family increased last month when he and his wife Lori welcomed their second daughter into the world. Skylor ClayAnn Walker was born in Beaumont, Texas and weighed in at 6 lbs., 7 oz. Skylor's big sister McClay is three-years-old.
And while we're on the subject of family, Joe Diffie recently popped the big question to his girlfriend Theresa Crump, a former police officer hailing from Florida. The happy couple plans to exchange vows sometime next Spring.
Congratulations to all!
Well, that's it for this month. I apologize for no coverage of the spectacular George Strait Country Music Festival, but due to the Memorial Day holiday, we had to go to print a few days prior to the show. Check back next month as we hope to have the whole scoop. In the meantime, always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."