Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Loretta Lynn Receives Honorary Doctorate from UK

Lexington's University of Kentucky awarded Butcher Hollow, Ky.'s own "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn, an honorary doctorate degree of the arts last month, but she was unfortunately unable to attend due to a recent illness. A few weeks prior to the ceremony, Loretta was hospitalized with abdominal pain in Fort Worth, Texas and was later diagnosed with an intestinal virus.

During the ceremony, UK's Senior Vice President, James Holsinger, Jr., referred to Loretta as "a traveling ambassador for both the entertainment world and the state of Kentucky." Loretta's brother, Herman Webb, accepted the degree on Loretta's behalf.

And while we're on the subject of Loretta, be sure to pick up a copy of her brand new book, "Still Woman Enough," the sequel to her autobiography "Coal Miner's Daughter." The first installment was transformed into a movie which earned Sissy Spacek an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of the country legend.

Country Grammy Winners

When the 44th Annual Grammy Awards were handed out in late February, Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines summed the evening up best when she stated, "In case you hadn't heard, bluegrass kicks a$$." Bluegrass swept every country category except Best Country Album, which was awarded to Timeless-Hank Williams Tribute. Country legend Dolly Parton captured the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her bluegrass rendition of Collective Soul's "Shine." Ralph Stanley's "O Death," which appeared on the undying O Brother, Where Art Thou? album (which has sold more than five million copies), was named Best Male Country Vocal Performance. Alison Krauss & Union Station's "The Lucky One" was named Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Country Song. This song appeared on the Best Bluegrass Album: Alison Krauss & Union Station's New Favorite.

The Best Country Collaboration with Vocals went to The Soggy Bottom Boys' "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which was named Album of the Year and Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media. Earl Scruggs; Glen Duncan; Randy Scruggs; Steve Martin; Vince Gill; Marty Stuart; Gary Scruggs; Albert Lee; Paul Shaffer; Jerry Douglas and Leon Russell's "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" was named Best Country Instrumental Performance.

Country's Freddy Fender, who underwent a kidney transplant earlier this year, captured the Best Latin Pop Album Grammy for La Musica De Baldemar Huerta. Down From The Mountain was named Best Traditional Folk Album, while its producer, T. Bone Burnett, who also produced O Brother, was named Producer of the Year.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Other Country Awards

Brooks & Dunn's Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn were deservingly recognized for their great charity work during the recent 33rd Annual Country Radio Seminar. The two, who have donated to charities such as the American Red Cross and Nashville's Vanderbilt Hospital, among others, received the Country Radio Broadcasters' Artist Humanitarian Award from last year's recipient, Collin Raye.

Country music was well represented when the Gibson Guitar Corporation recently passed out its annual guitarist awards. Newcomer Brad Paisley was named Best Country Guitarist, Male, while Gillian Welch was named Best Country Guitarist, Female. In addition, bluegrass great Earl Scruggs was honored with the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award.

The legendary "Man in Black," Johnny Cash, who recently turned 70 years old, will be honored by President George W. Bush in our nation's capitol next month. The President will award Johnny the National Medal of Arts award along with Yo-Yo Ma and Kirk Douglas.

Country music was also well represented last month when the Association for Independent Music awards were handed out. The Country Album of the Year award went to Billy Joe Shaver's The Earth Rolls On, Dolly Parton's Little Sparrow was named Bluegrass Album of the Year, Rodney Crowell's The Houston Kid was named Americana Album of the Year, American Roots Music was named Historical Album of the Year and the late John Hartford's Hamilton Ironworks was named Traditional Folk Album of the Year.

Congratulations to all these award recipients!

Academy of Country Music Nominees

When the nominees for the 37th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were announced last month, Toby Keith and Brooks & Dunn topped the list with six nominations each. Toby will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for Pull My Chain and Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year for "I Wanna Talk About Me." Brooks & Dunn will compete for Entertainer of the Year, Top Vocal Duo, Album of the Year for Steers & Stripes, Single Record of the Year for "Ain't Nothing `Bout You," and Song of the Year and Video of the Year for "Only In America." Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and Travis Tritt followed with four nominations each.

The awards will be handed out live on CBS Television on Wednesday, May 22. The nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw; Top Female Vocalist: Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood; Top Male Vocalist: Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Travis Tritt; Top Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, The Bellamy Brothers, The Kinleys and The Warren Brothers; and Vocal Group of the Year: Diamond Rio, Dixie Chicks, Lonestar, Nickel Creek and Trick Pony.

Top New Female Vocalist: Tammy Cochran, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Cyndi Thomson; Top New Male Vocalist: Chris Cagle, Blake Shelton and Phil Vassar; Top New Vocal Duo or Group: Nickel Creek, Sons of the Desert and Trick Pony; and Vocal Event of the Year: Garth Brooks & George Jones' "Beer Run," Jo Dee Messina & Tim McGraw's "Bring On The Rain," Soggy Bottom Boys' "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow," Patty Loveless & Travis Tritt's "Out Of Control Raging Fire," and Brad Paisley, Buck Owens, George Jones, and Bill Anderson's "Too Country."

Song of the Year: Tammy Cochran's "Angels In Waiting," Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me," Diamond Rio's "One More Day," Brooks & Dunn's "Only In America," and Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)"; Single Record of the Year: Brooks & Dunn's "Ain't Nothing `Bout You," Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me," Travis Tritt's "It's A Great Day To Be Alive," Diamond Rio's "One More Day," and Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)"; Album of the Year: Travis Tritt's Down The Road I Go, O Brother, Where Art Thou? motion picture soundtrack, Toby Keith's Pull My Chain, Tim McGraw's Set This Circus Down and Brooks & Dunn's Steers & Stripes; and Video of the Year: Tammy Cochran's "Angels In Waiting," Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me," Trace Adkins' "I'm Tryin'," Brooks & Dunn's "Only In America," and Aaron Tippin's "Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly."

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Songwriter Harlan Howard Dies

One of country music's most legendary songwriters, Country Music Hall of Famer Harlan Howard, passed away at his Nashville home on March 3 at the age of 74. His widow, Melanie Howard said, "It was sudden. He had some health problems but continued to rock on. I guess God wanted him there to see Waylon and all of his other buddies." Harlan is known for writing such hits as Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces," Melba Montgomery's "No Charge," Ray Price's "Heartaches By The Number," Patty Loveless' "Blame It On Your Heart," The Judds' "Why Not Me," Buck Owens' "I've Got A Tiger By The Tail" and Pam Tillis' "Don't Tell Me What To Do."

A public memorial service honoring Harlan, touted as the Celebration of Harlan Howard's Life, was held at downtown Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium March 19. Bobby Bare, John Conlee, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Wynonna and Naomi Judd and Trisha Yearwood performed during the two-hour ceremony.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Melanie Howard and her entire family.

Spring Break in Nashville

With Spring Break upon us, it's time to pack the kids into the mini-van or SUV and hit the road for a vacation. If this year's vacation spot is yet to be determined, may I recommend Nashville, Tenn. Whether your family members are country fans or not, there's plenty for everyone to do in Music City U.S.A. Country fans won't want to miss the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville, which offers plenty for fans of all ages. If you thrive on shopping for bargains, then you'll like Opry Mills, which offers over a million square feet of specialty stores and restaurants under one roof. And while you're at Opry Mills, be sure to eat at the Alabama Grill, supergroup Alabama's country version of the Hard Rock Café.

Also, be sure to stop by for the taping of CMT's "Most Wanted Live" at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the Gibson Bluegrass Showcase store and restaurant in Opry Mills. And the entire family will enjoy visiting the longest running radio show in America, the Grand Ole Opry, every Friday and Saturday night, featuring country legends like Porter Wagoner, Jean Shepard, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, along with newer members like Martina McBride, Diamond Rio, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill and others.

Before the week is over and it's time to head north on I-65, be sure to set aside at least 90 minutes to experience "The John F. Kennedy Presidential Exhibition-Let Us Begin" at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. This premier exhibit, which is mostly comprised of collector Robert White's private collection of Kennedy memorabilia, offers a very personal look into the private life and career of the 35th President of the United States. The exhibit has over 300 artifacts, including JFK's christening ring, presented to the future President when he was a twenty-one days old; an invitation to his wedding; the Omega watch he wore during his Presidential Inauguration; one of his rocking chairs; daughter Caroline's Crayola crayons, which he kept in his desk in the Oval Office' a number of hand-written notes, complete with doodles; several family photographs and blood-stained swatches of upholstery from the car JFK rode in through Dallas on November 22, 1963. Also presented alongside these artifacts is a one-foot-to-one-inch, completely furnished replica of the White House, as well as a collection of Presidents' shoes, including Hodgensville's President Abraham Lincoln's size 14 black leather shoe-boot. "The John F. Kennedy Presidential Exhibition-Let Us Begin" will remain on display in Nashville through May 27, from 10 am - 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 am - 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday Tickets are $17.45 for adults and $11.85 for children.

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."