Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

A Good Ole Country Christmas

Many country artists will be hitting the road this month for special Christmas tours, including husband and wife Vince Gill and Amy Grant. Travis Tritt will participate in the 78th Annual Christmas Pageant of Peace December 6 in our nation's capitol. Joe Diffie, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Tammy Cochran will be performing at the Cox Carols by Candlelight at the California Center for the Arts on December 6 and 7. On December 9, Reba McEntire will host Christmas In Washington co-starring Tony Bennett, Charlotte Church, and Mandy Moore, which will air on cable channel TNT on December 16..

If you haven't gotten enough of Garth Brooks in the last few weeks - new album, Scarecrow, three live CBS Television concerts - then you're in luck, as Call Me Claus, the made-for-television movie he co-executive produced along with star Whoopi Goldberg, will premiere on TNT December 2, featuring brand new Garth music.

If you're looking for a country getaway this holiday season, pack up the kids and Grandma and Grandpa and head to Tennessee. If you're looking for fantastic displays of Christmas lights along with nature's beauty, then you'll want to head to the Smoky Mountains. Dolly Parton's theme-park, Dollywood, is hosting yet another Smoky Mountain Christmas festival throughout the month, while Louise Mandrell is hosting her very own Christmas show at her theater in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. If you're not up to driving all the way to the Smokies, head down I-65 south to Nashville to take in the holiday sights and sounds at the Opryland Hotel. The hotel is hosting a Christmas production featuring New York's famous Rockettes and will host a holiday ice sculpture display.

Patriotism Dominates CMA Awards

Red, White and Blue was an appropriately recurring theme of the 35th Annual Country Music Association Awards program, held at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House last month. Brooks & Dunn kicked the show off with a rousing electric guitar rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," followed by "Only In America." The Dixie Chicks performed a brand new tune titled "Travelin' Soldier," and host Vince Gill led an all-star cast singing "America The Beautiful" for an emotional closing. The highlight of the three-hour ceremony was Alan Jackson's performance of "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)," a heart-wrenching tune he wrote a week prior to the awards program in honor of the September 11 attacks.

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Tim McGraw; Female Vocalist of the Year: Lee Ann Womack; Male Vocalist of the Year: Toby Keith; Vocal Duo of the Year: Brooks & Dunn; and Vocal Group of the Year: Lonestar.

Horizon Award: Keith Urban; Musician of the Year: Dann Huff; Album of the Year: O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie soundtrack; Single of the Year: The Soggy Bottom Boys' "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow"; Song of the Year: George Strait and Alan Jackson's "Murder On Music Row," written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell; Music Video of the Year: Sara Evans' "Born To Fly"; and Vocal Event of the Year: Brad Paisley, Bill Anderson, George Jones, and Buck Owens' "Too Country."

Congratulations to all the winners!

Other Country Award Winners

On November 1, country artists Crystal Gayle and John Berry hosted the 2001 Christian Country Music Awards ceremony at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium. Berry was named Mainstream Country Artist of the Year, The Soggy Bottom Boys' "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie soundtrack was named Mainstream Song of the Year, and Tammy Cochran's "Angels In Waiting" was named Top Video. Country legends Jack Greene and Margo Smith were honored with the Pioneer Award and Living Legend Award, respectively.

When the 49th Annual BMI Country Awards were handed out the night before the CMA awards, Toby Keith was named Artist-Songwriter of the Year. The Country Songwriter of the Year award went to Marv Green and Aimee Mayo for writing Joe Diffie's "It's Always Something," Faith Hill and Tim McGraw's "Let's Make Love" and Lonestar's "Amazed." Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance," which was written by Tia Sellers and Mark D. Sanders, was named Most Performed Country Song of the Year and received the Robert J. Burton Award. Willie Nelson became the fifth-ever recipient of the President's Award, while Lee Greenwood was honored with the first-ever Words Of Freedom Award. Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. was named the BMI Country Publisher of the Year.

On November 4, Central City, Ky.'s own Phil and Don Everly, better known as The Everly Brothers, were inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame, along with the late Grand Ole Opry star Johnny Russell and Dennis Linde. Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance" was named Song of the Year, and Darrell Scott, who co-wrote "Born To Fly" and "It's A Great Day To Be Alive," was named Songwriter of the Year.

American Music Awards Nominees

Tim McGraw, the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, leads the list of country nominees for the 29th Annual American Music Awards. Tim will vie for Favorite Country Male Artist, his album Set This Circus Down is up for Favorite Country Album, and he will compete with Destiny's Child, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Shaggy, and U2 for the American Music Awards' Fan's Choice Award. Country fans can vote for Tim by logging on to www.americanmusicawards.com before January 9.

Toby Keith and Travis Tritt will compete with Tim for Favorite Country Male Artist, while Sara Evans, Faith Hill, and Jo Dee Messina will compete for Favorite Country Female Artist. Brooks & Dunn, Lonestar, and SHeDAISY will compete for Favorite Country Band, and Jamie O'Neal, Blake Shelton, and Trick Pony are up for Favorite New Country Artist. Brooks & Dunn's Steers and Stripes and Lonestar's I'm Already There will compete with Tim's Set This Circus Down for Favorite Country Album. LeAnn Rimes, who has seemed to jump the country ship for a pop career, is nominated for Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.

The American Music Awards ceremony will broadcast live from Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium on ABC-Television on January 9.

Dolly Postpones New Year's Eve Concert

Just a quick note to inform you that Dolly Parton's "Red, White and Bluegrass" concert, which was scheduled for New Year's Eve at the Grand Ole Opry House, has been postponed to an unknown date sometime next year. Dolly says that many of the artists she invited to perform with her already had performance commitments or family commitments and that she wanted to do the show justice, so she decided to postpone the show until another date which better fit artists' schedules. Keep reading in the months to come for further details of a rescheduled date.

Country Freedom Concert Raises $5 Million

The totals are finally in for the Country Freedom Concert held in Nashville October 21. Six million viewers tuned into Country Music Television to hear the likes of Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Hank Williams, Jr., Lee Ann Womack, and Trisha Yearwood. This mega-concert raised more than $5 million for the Salvation Army Disaster Relief Fund set up to aid victims and their families of the September 11 terrorist attacks on our great nation.

If you tuned into the Country Freedom Concert, then I'm sure you haven't forgotten Hank Williams, Jr.'s updated version of "A Country Boy Can Survive," appropriately titled "America Can Survive." There has been such great demand for this new song that Hank, Jr. has already headed into the studio and recorded it for his next album, The Almeria Club and Other Select Venues, scheduled to be released in January

Country Health Watch

One of country music's original outlaws, Hall of Famer Waylon Jennings underwent leg surgery last month in a Phoenix, Az. area hospital to help restore circulation in his leg. Waylon has been having trouble walking lately due to peripheral vascular disease. Doctors say Waylon's prognosis is good.

The legendary "Man in Black," Johnny Cash, continues to suffer with poor health. Johnny was finally released from Nashville's Baptist Hospital early last month after undergoing four days of treatment for bronchitis. This was Johnny's second trip to the hospital within a month.

Best wishes to Waylon and Johnny for speedy recoveries!

Country Condolences

We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Joe Diffie upon the recent passing of his maternal grandmother, 81-year-old Margaret Dillon. Mrs. Dillon died in Duncan, Okla. of a severe stroke following recent heart problems. Joe cancelled various appearances during mid-November to handle funeral arrangements, including riding the "Santa Special" charity train throughout eastern Ky., Tenn., and Va.

Forty-nine-year-old Dobro player extraordinaire Gene Wooten passed away November 7 following a long bout with lung cancer. Gene has performed with the likes of Grand Ole Opry star Wilma Lee Cooper and the Osborne Brothers, and was part of the Bluegrass group The Sidemen. He can be heard playing on Patty Loveless' current critically-acclaimed album Mountain Soul.

Texas Music Hall of Famer Champ Hood, also 49 years old, passed away November 3 near Austin, Texas, also following a long bout with cancer. Champ was part of the group Uncle Walt's Band, which helped David Ball get his start. He has also played guitar and fiddle with the likes of Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett and Kelly Willis.

Sixty-three-year-old Russell Lee "Rusty" Kershaw, who made up the duo Rusty & Doug along with his brother, fiddler Doug Kershaw, died October 23 in New Orleans of a heart attack. Rusty & Doug joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1957, and Rusty played with the likes of Charlie Daniels and Neil Young. Rusty is survived by his wife, Julie, and two children, Troy and Sherry.

Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of each of the above!

Well, that's it for yet another month, and another year for that matter. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! As always, I urge you to remember those less fortunate than you this holiday season if you are in a position to help those in need. Always remember, "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way." See ya next year!