Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Jackson & Strait Sweep Fan Voted Country Awards

When the TNN & CMT Country Weekly Music Awards were handed out in Nashville last month during Fan Fair, the fans spoke and named Alan Jackson their favorite country singer. The lanky Georgia boy walked away with a whopping six awards. The thousands of fans who voted for these awards named Jackson Male Artist of the Year, voted When Somebody Loves You Album of the Year and "www.memory" CMT Music Video of the Year, and named "Murder On Music Row," Alan's duet with George Strait, Collaborative Event of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year. Along with these three trophies he shared with Jackson, George Strait, "The Cowboy," was also named Entertainer of the Year and received the Impact Award. Faith Hill had no problem holding on to the title of Female Artist of the Year for the third consecutive year, while the Dixie Chicks were named Group/Duo of the Year.

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: George Strait; Female Artist of the Year: Faith Hill; Male Artist of the Year: Alan Jackson; Group/Duo of the Year: Dixie Chicks; The Discovery Award: Billy Gilman; and The Fast Track Award: Kenny Chesney.

Album of the Year: Alan Jackson's When Somebody Loves You; Song of the Year: George Strait & Alan Jackson's "Murder On Music Row"; Single of the Year: George Strait & Alan Jackson's "Murder On Music Row"; Collaborative Event of the Year: George Strait & Alan Jackson's "Murder On Music Row"; CMT Music Video of the Year: Alan Jackson's "www.memory"; Impact Award: George Strait; Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award: Kathy Mattea; and Country Weekly Career Achievement Award: Vince Gill.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Country Music Celebrates Independence Day

When it comes to patriotism, there is no group more patriotic then country music singers and their fans. Chely Wright will be in our nation's capitol to celebrate the 225th signing of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July. Chely will perform along with the Pointer Sisters, the Irish Tenors and Luther Vandross as part of The Capitol Fourth Concert. Wright will reportedly perform "Single White Female" and "Never Love You Enough" with the help of the National Symphony Orchestra. Hosted by Barry Bostwick of the television sitcom Spin City, this concert will be broadcast live on PBS on our great nation's birthday at 8 p.m. EDT.

Several other country stars are involved in a 4th of July celebration for ABC News. Produced by famed television producer Norman Lear (producer of All In The Family and Maude), this special celebration will take place in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Such stars as Kathy Bates, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Mel Gibson, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Spacey, Catherine Zeta-Jones and country music's own Garth Brooks will read the Declaration of Independence. Reportedly, Brooks will also sing a couple of songs appropriate for the occasion. Just last month, nearly 60 country, pop, and gospel singers, including Alabama's Randy Owen, Amy Grant, Toby Keith, Lyle Lovett and Kenny Rogers, joined to record the "America The Beautiful" for this special. The song was produced by MCA Records' Tony Brown and James Stroud. Check local television listings for the exact airtime for this special on ABC-Television.

Dolly & Willie Inducted Into Songwriters Hall of Fame

Country music legends Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson were inducted into the New York-based Songwriters Hall of Fame just last month, along with Eric Clapton, Diane Warren and Paul Williams. During the 32nd annual awards ceremony, Ralph Peer II, whose father made the first historic recordings of country pioneers Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, was honored with the Abe Olman Publishing Award, while rocker Billy Joel received the Johnny Mercer Award. Dolly's pal Emmylou Harris performed as a part of Dolly's induction, while Willie performed "Rainbow Connection" as a part of Paul Williams' induction.

During a recent press conference, Country Music Hall of Famer Dolly was quite excited by this new induction. She said, "I have to honestly say, on a personal note, that probably is the greatest compliment I've ever had, `cause I've always prided myself on being a songwriter. I've written so many songs throughout the years, thousands of songs, since I was a little girl." She continued, "I love to sing, but I really believe that it's my songwritin' that really kind of started it all." She has been so pumped up over this latest honor that she has reportedly been on a songwriting binge.

Congratulations, Dolly and Willie! Keep writin' them songs!

McGraw & Chesney Acquitted

I've been reporting for quite some time now about Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney's legal battles subsequent to an encounter with law enforcement after a performance with the George Strait Country Music Festival near Buffalo, New York last June, and I am happy to say that the entire fiasco is now over. On May 23, Tim and Kenny were acquitted on all charges. McGraw was charged with misdemeanor assault, resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration and menacing, along with harassment, while Kenny was charged with disorderly conduct.

Following this ruling, with Faith Hill right by his side, Tim said, "We have been waiting 11 months to have our day in trial, we didn't want any plea bargain, we wanted to tell our story and tell the truth. The justice system works. The people of Buffalo have been wonderful to us, we have nothing against them. We'll be back, we'll play music here and just appreciate everybody's support." He further stated, "I would like to thank my fans for their support and look forward to moving on." Tim recently told Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer that he did not accept a plea bargain to teach his children that we each have a responsibility to tell the truth and to stand for the truth.

Following this court ruling, Tim and Kenny kicked off a summer tour together late last month. No word for sure yet, but I have a feeling that the two just may be closing out this year's Kentucky State Fair. Kenny is already confirmed to play the Sunday night concert on the last night of the fair, but no word yet on Tim, but I have a feeling that Kenny just may be bringing along his pal. Keep your ears open for confirmation of this show, and I'll have the entire list of state fair concerts for you next month. Also, keep your ears open for ticket information for all fair shows, which should be announced real soon!

Congratulations to Tim and Kenny!

Musician John Hartford Dies

The 63-year-old black bowler hat-wearing musician John Hartford passed away last month on June 4 after suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for 21 years. Hartford was born in New York on December 30, 1937, grew up in St. Louis and moved to Nashville to pursue a musical career in 1965. Although he played music professionally for nearly four decades, he is best remembered as the songwriter of the classic tune "Gentle On My Mind," which has been recorded by several singers from all genres of music, most notably by country's own Glen Campbell.

The funeral for John Hartford, which was held at his home in Madison, Tenn., was a star-studded event. Sam Bush, Vassar Clements, Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, Emmylou Harris, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Tim O'Brien, the Osborne Brothers, Earl Scruggs and Gillian Welch were among the artists who performed during the service. Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs offered a eulogy, as did TV host Ralph Emery and musicians Tompall Glaser, Peter Rowan and Tut Taylor. Other country artists in attendance included Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum and the Stuarts: Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.

Hartford is survived by his wife, Marie, one son, one daughter and three stepchildren. Memorial donations can be made to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, 2221 Murphy Ave., Nashville, TN 37203, which was named after country's favorite comedienne, Sarah Cannon, better known as Minnie Pearl.

We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to John's entire family!

Country Baby Boom

Country crooner Clint Black and his actress/singer wife Lisa Hartman Black are the proud parents of a baby girl. Clint and Lisa welcomed their first child, Lily Pearl Black, into the world on May 8. Lily weighed 7 lbs., 14 ozs. Fans can take a peek of Lily by visiting www.clintblack.com to see a couple of photos her proud papa clicked himself. Although Clint is a recent first-time father, he has been supporting children's charities for many years now. Just last month, he received the Celebrity of the Year award by ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. in recognition of his many years of devoted support for the organization.

Tim McGraw and wife Faith Hill are expecting child number three. That's right, the reigning "First Couple of Country Music" will welcome their third child into the world in January, joining big sisters Gracie, 4-years-old, and Maggie, 2. Needless to say, the entire family is quite excited, but Tim and Faith say, "Gracie and Maggie can't understand why they have to wait until January to see the baby."

As I reported in recent months, "Time Marches On" singer Tracy Lawrence and his wife Becca are expecting their first child. During Fan Fair last month, Tracy let the cat out of the bag when he announced that they will be having a baby girl.

Congratulations to Clint & Lisa, Tim & Faith, and Tracy & Becca!

Well, that's it for yet another month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."