The country music community was hit hard last month by the deaths of Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Snow and singing cowboy Rex Allen, Sr. Hank Snow, best known for his smash hit "I'm Moving On," died December 20 in his Nashville area home after a long string of health problems. Hank was born Clarence Eugene Snow on May 9, 1914 in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, Canada and reached the pinnacle of his career as an American country music singer when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979. Hank is survived by one son, the Reverend Jimmie Rodgers Snow.
Rex Allen, Sr., known as one of the best singing cowboys, died on December 17 in Tucson, Ariz. after his caretaker accidentally ran over him in his own driveway with a car. Rex was born Rex Alvie Allen on December 31, 1920 in Willcox, Arizona and went on to gain fame as a regular on the National Barn Dance on Chicago's WLS, before hitting the country charts with songs such as "Crying In The Chapel" and appearing in numerous western films, as well as the television series "Frontier Doctor." Rex is survived by four children, including country singer Rex Allen, Jr.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of these two fine entertainers.
It is OFFICIAL – Wynonna and Naomi Judd will once again be touring this year as the ever-so-popular celebrated and awarded country duo The Judds! Just last month, Naomi and Wynonna confirmed that they would hit the road once again as a duo following their New Year's Eve reunion concert. Naomi joked with reporters at a recent press conference saying, "We're going to go on tour because I'm not dead and Wynonna's not pregnant." The Judds performed their "final" concert together on December 4, 1991 upon Naomi's diagnosis of hepatitis C. Naomi is proud to say that she has had no trace of hepatitis in her body for over two years now.
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Country megastar Garth Brooks has not only shaken the country music industry, but the entire world of music as he recently announced on the final episode of TNN's Crook & Chase show that he may retire for good at the end of this year. Garth told Crook & Chase that he plans to lay low for the majority of the year and throw a big party at the end of the year, announcing his retirement as a recording and touring artist to spend more time with his wife and three daughters, 7-year-old Taylor, 5-year-old August and 3-year-old Allie. Garth said, "I'll be real honest, I never ever thought in my life I'd say this, but music is not the first thing in my life anymore. Those girls somehow come along and they just take your energy and all of a sudden all you want to do is do things that make them smile."
Garth says that when he does retire from music, he would like to continue to write songs for other artists, as well as begin writing screenplays.
The Dixie Chicks dominated every country category at the recent Billboard Music Awards which were handed out in Las Vegas. Natalie, Emily and Martie picked up trophies for Country Artist of the Year, Country Album Artist and Country Album Duo/Group of the Year. In addition to the Chicks' reign, country's legendary Emmylou Harris was honored with the Billboard's Century Award for artistic creativity. Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks and Emmylou!
Country music will be well represented in the very first awards show of the new millennium – the 26th Annual People's Choice Awards. The Dixie Chicks and Alabama will compete with the Backstreet Boys for top musical group. Shania Twain will join Celine Dion and Britney Spears in the running for the favorite female musical performer. You can catch these awards on CBS Television on January 9.
When the nominees for the 27th Annual American Music Awards were recently announced, Shania Twain topped the list of country artists with three nominations. Shania will vie for Favorite Female Country Artist, Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist. The entire list of country nominees is as follows: Country female: Faith Hill, Martina McBride and Shania Twain; Country male: Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and George Strait; Country band, duo or group: Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio and the Dixie Chicks; New country artist: Sara Evans, Montgomery Gentry and SHeDAISY; and Country album: Garth Brooks' Double Live, the Dixie Chicks' Fly and George Strait's Always Never the Same. The AMAs will be handed out in Los Angeles on January 17. Scheduled country presenters include Trace Adkins, Sara Evans, Ty Herndon, Montgomery Gentry and SHeDAISY.
Shooting enthusiasts and country music fans alike won't want to miss The Sixth Annual Louise Mandrell Celebrity Shoot, which will air on The Nashville Network at 10 p.m., New Year's Day. Over the past six years, this event has raised more than$915,000 for the Boy Scouts of America. Louise recently told Louisville Music News, "It was after attending the Charlton Heston Celebrity Shoot in Los Angeles on my honeymoon that I started my own event. He started a lot of celebrities shooting and I'm happy to carry on his tradition of introducing new people to this sport."
Celebrities who participated in this charity event included: Charlton Heston (NRA), singer/actor Barbara Mandrell, actor Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger), entertainer Irlene Mandrell, singer Linda Davis, actor Thyme Lewis (Days Of Our Lives), singer Ricky Skaggs, actor Steve Kannally (Dallas), actress Jaime Dudney (As The World Turns), football players Al Del Greco and Frank Wycheck and actors Lane Smith and Frank Stallone, Jr., among others (nearly 75 celebrities in all).
Super Bowl XXXIV will reportedly go country at Atlanta's Georgia Dome on January 30th. The National Football League and members of the music industry claim that country outlaw Travis Tritt and rocker Tina Turner are slated to performed during this year's most popular football game. In addition, country songstress Faith Hill is reportedly confirmed to sing the National Anthem prior to kickoff. Tune in to CBS Television on January 30 as two of country music's top artists make country fans proud in front of millions of football fans.
Billboard and Radio & Records magazines have named Lonestar's "Amazed" as the most-played country music song of 1999. This smash career song has been on the charts for nearly 40 weeks now and remains in Billboard's Top 20 country chart.
According to Amusement Business magazine, two country music tours landed on the list of the Top 10 highest-grossing tours of 1999. Shania Twain's first-ever major tour made 64 stops across the country and grossed$36.6 million. The George Strait Country Music Festival, which featured Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney, Jo Dee Messina and Mark Wills in addition to Mr. Strait, grossed$32.4 million with a mere 17 stadium shows (all of which were sold-out).
Garth Brooks' No Fences album has tied for the second best-selling album of the 1990's. No Fences, Hootie & The Blowfish's Cracked Rear View and Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill each sold a reported 16 million copies. This trio of albums was beat out by none other than The Bodyguard motion picture soundtrack, which was catapulted to the top of the charts by Whitney Houston's cover of Dolly Parton's signature tune, "I Will Always Love You."
The Warren family grew a little larger last month as Brett Warren, of the Warren Brothers duo and his wife Raquel welcomed their first child, son Cole Daniel Warren, into the world. Cole caused his father to miss performing on the Friday, December 10 performance of the legendary Grand Ole Opry, but never fear, as Brett stepped down off "cloud nine" just long enough to perform with his brother on the Saturday night show. Congratulations to the happy first-time parents!
As you probably remember, I told you a while back that Kenny Chesney and girlfriend Mandy Weals were engaged to be married last November, but that their wedding was postponed. Well, now their wedding has been permanently postponed. Kenny says that he and Mandy are no longer engaged, but that the two still love each other very much.
Well, that's it for the first month of the new millennium. Always remember, "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin' your way."