Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

2000: The Year of Country Women

The country women dominated the year 2000, and I don't think anyone is complaining too much. Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks tied for the best-selling country album of the year. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Faith's Breathe and the Dixie Chicks' Fly each sold 5 million copies last year alone. Shania Twain's Come On Over album became the best-selling solo album by any female artist last year, with record sales totaling 18 million copies since its 1997 release.

Amusement Business magazine has determined that Faith's co-headlining Soul 2 Soul Tour along with hubby Tim McGraw was the top-selling country tour of 2000, earning $49.6 million for 65 shows. The Dixie Chicks were on the McGraws' heels with an impressive $46.1 million in ticket sales from 81 concerts, which is quite impressive for a group's first headlining tour. The George Strait Country Music Festival was country's third most profitable concert tour, bringing in $21 million from a mere 10 shows.

Faith was also named the 2000 Top Country Female Artist by Billboard magazine, while her smash single "Breathe" was #1 on the 2000 Billboard Hot 100 Chart, #4 in the Adult Contemporary category, and #9 on the Top 40 chart. The Dixie Chicks' Fly was named the Top Country Album, Wide Open Spaces, landed at #6 on the list, and the Chicks were named Top Country Group. Faith's hubby Tim McGraw was named Top Country Male Artist. Phil Vassar was named Top New Country Artist, and Toby Keith's "How Do You Like Me Now?" was the top country single of the year. Lonestar's "Amazed" landed at #10 on the Top 100 Chart and at #2 on the Adult Contemporary Chart.

Faith and the Dixie Chicks each had network television debut specials during the week of Thanksgiving last year. Although the ratings were phenomenal for both of the specials, the Chicks won out with their On The Fly special, which was the highest-rated musical special on any television network for the year of 2000.

Just last month Faith and the Chicks went head-to-head in several categories at the Billboard Music Awards, and they each came out smelling like roses. The Dixie Chicks were named overall Country Artist of the Year, Country Artist of the Year-Duo/Group, Country Album Artist of the Year, and Country Album of the Year for Fly. Faith was named Country Female Artist of the Year, and her smash hit "Breathe" crowned Faith with the following titles: Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year-Female, Hot 100 Single of the Year, and Hot 100 Airplay Track of the Year.

Faith's honors continued at the first ever My VH1 Music Awards, which were held in late Nov. last year. Faith garnered trophies for "Woman of the Year," "Sexxxiest Video" for her smash crossover single "Breathe," and "You Want Fries With That Album?" for the best television commercial by an artist, referring to her Pepsi-Cola commercials. Fans via the website VH1.com selected all categories, nominees, and winners.

Congratulations and thanks to Faith and the Dixie Chicks for an incredible year!

2000 a Magical Year for Brad Paisley

2000 was a magical year for West Virginia native and country newcomer Brad Paisley for many reasons. The "Who Needs Pictures" and "He Didn't Have To Be" singer was recognized with numerous country music awards, but the icing on the cake arrived on December 16, when he was invited to become the next member of the legendary Grand Ole Opry. Following Brad's Opry performance (his 36th performance on the longest-running radio program), Brad was taken aback when Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely and Little Jimmy Dickens surprised him with this great honor. Brad hid his tears of joy with his cowboy hat and gladly accepted the invitation. He will become an official member of the Opry on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium on Feb. 17.

Congratulations and keep up the good work, Brad!

CMT's 2000 Picks

When Country Music Television recently counted down the top videos and top video artists of 2000, Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks swept the categories. Toby Keith was named Male Video Artist of the Year and his "How Do You Like Me Now?" was named the #1 video of the year, while the Chicks were named Video Group/Duo of the Year and they landed on the video Top 12 chart twice: at #2 for "Goodbye Earl" and #11 with "Cowboy Take Me Away."

The CMT 2000 Countdown is as follows: 1) Toby Keith's "How Do You Like Me Now?"; 2) Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl"; 3) Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance"; 4) Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me"; 5) Billy Gilman's "One Voice"; 6) Reba McEntire's "What Do You Say?"; 7) Aaron Tippin's "This Kiss"; 8) Martina McBride's "Love's The Only House"; 9) Montgomery Gentry's "Lonely And Gone"; 10) Brad Paisley's "He Didn't Have To Be"; 11) Dixie Chicks' "Cowboy Take Me Away"; and 12) Chely Wright's "It Was."

The CMT 2000 Countdown Specialty Awards are as follows: Female Video Artist of the Year: Faith Hill; Male Video Artist of the Year: Toby Keith; Video Group/Duo of the Year: Dixie Chicks; Rising Video Star of the Year: Billy Gilman; Video Event of the Year: Asleep At The Wheel's "Cherokee Maiden"; Video Director of the Year: Trey Fanjoy; and Independent Video of the Year: The Derailers' "The Right Place."

Eddy Arnold Honored by the President

President Bill Clinton honored "The Tennessee Plowboy," the legendary Eddy Arnold, just last month in a special ceremony at Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall, when he was presented a National Medal of the Arts. The 82-year-old Arnold was honored along with poet Maya Angelou; dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov; saxophonist Benny Carter; painter Chuck Close; playwright Horton Foote; Lewis Manilow; sculptor Claes Oldenburg; violinist Itzhak Perlman; director Harold Prince and Barbra Streisand.

Congratulations to Eddy and all the other recipients!

Country People's Choice Nominees

Country music will be well represented on the live telecast of the 27th Annual People's Choice Awards airing on CBS-Television on January 7. Faith Hill and Shania Twain will compete against pop's Britney Spears for the title of Favorite Female Musical Artist, while Alabama and the Dixie Chicks will battle N'Sync for the Favorite Musical Group or Band trophy.

Congratulations and good luck to Alabama, the Dixie Chicks, Faith and Shania!

Country Golden Globe Nominees

When the Hollywood Foreign Press Association passes the Golden Globe Awards out January 21, country music will be equally well represented as the People's Choice Awards among the list of nominees. Country rocker Marty Stuart, along with Kristin Wilkinson and Larry Paxton, will vie for the Best Original Score award for the movie All The Pretty Horses, which stars Matt Damon. Mega-star Garth Brooks and Jenny Yates are included in the Best Original Song category for "When You Come Back To Me Again," which was featured in the movie Frequency starring Dennis Quad. The movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which features music by artists such as Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, The Cox Family, John Hartford and Alison Krauss, was nominated in the category of Best Picture, Musical, or Comedy.

The Golden Globe Awards ceremony will air live on NBC-Television on January 21. Congratulations and best of luck to all the nominees!

Tim McGraw's Emergency Surgery

Tim McGraw may be just about the hottest country male these days, having the top-selling country concert tour last year and a platinum certification for record sales of 1 million in just a matter of weeks for his Greatest Hits album, but this great success doesn't mean he indestructible. Tim and wife Faith Hill wrapped up their Soul 2 Soul Tour in Orlando, Fla. on December 12, and he began suffering great pain in the early morning hours of December 14. Faith reportedly rushed Tim to Nashville's Baptist Hospital where he underwent an emergency appendectomy. Tim recovered at home with his family by his side.

We would like to send best wishes for a speedy recovery to Tim! (Also, I'd like to send the McGraws a special thank you for the wonderful Christmas card they sent featuring daughters Gracie and Maggie painting holiday wishes.)

Country Family Album

"Kiss This" singer Aaron Tippin and his co-writer/wife Thea became proud parents once again on December 1, as their second son, Thomas Aaron, was born in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Thomas joins big brother Teddy, as well as big sis Charla, Aaron's daughter from a previous marriage.

Lonestar keyboardist Dean Sams and his wife, Kim, welcomed their second child into the world nearly a month early last month. Six pound, six oz. Bryson Dean was born in Nashville on December 17. Bryson joins 3-year-old big sis Britney.

And while we're on the topic of babies, Clint and Lisa Hartman Black (whom I reported in recent months are expecting their first child in May) have learned that their first child will be a little girl. Clint spread the news at a concert in Las Vegas last month after performing his award-winning duet "When I Said I Do" with Lisa when he proudly stated, "This is our daughter's first concert."

Congratulations to all of country's proud new parents and parents-to-be! Congratulations are also in order for Heather Kinley, half of the country twin duo The Kinleys, and pharmaceutical sales rep Mark Mendenhall as the happy couple exchanged wedding vows December 2 in Nashville. Best wishes to Heather and Mark for many years of happiness together!

Well, that's it for this month, the first month of the truly new millennium. I hope this is a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year for each one of you. Don't forget to watch the American Music Awards airing live on ABC-Television on January 8. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."