>Loretta Lynn's Career Shining Bright
The career of Butcher Holler, Ky.'s favorite "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn, is shining brighter than ever these days. Loretta was in Louisville on December 16 as she was honored to be chosen to carry the Olympic Torch en route to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Despite torrential rains, Loretta created quite a media frenzy as she carried the metal and glass sculpted torch approximately one-quarter of a mile from Maylawn Ave to Crittenden Dr. When recently asked about this great honor, Loretta said, "I'm so excited! This is one of the greatest things I've ever been asked to do!"
Carrying the Olympic torch isn't the only excitement in Loretta's life these days though. This spring, she will release the sequel to her best-selling 1970s autobiography, this installment being titled Still Woman Enough. As you probably recall, her first book, which covered her life from the hills of Kentucky to the bright lights of country music stardom, was made into the award-winning 1980 movie Coal Miner's Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek. I'm sure this latest book will also be a must-read for every country fan as I'm sure Loretta has plenty more to say about her career and personal life, especially since the death of her beloved husband, Mooney Lynn a few years back. Keep reading in the months to come and I'll be sure to pass along the latest news on the new book!
Latest & Upcoming Country Awards
Last month when the 2001 Billboard Music Awards were handed out in Las Vegas, Tim McGraw made country fans around the globe proud as he captured five trophies, including Country Artist of the Year, Male Country Artist of the Year, Country Singles Artist of the Year, Country Album of the Year for his Greatest Hits, and Country Albums Artist of the Year. Brooks & Dunn captured the Country Single of the Year trophy for "Ain't Nothing `Bout You," and Jamie O'Neal was named New Country Artist of the Year. Lee Ann Womack's much awarded tune "I Hope You Dance" was named Adult Contemporary Single of the Year. As of print time, the Female Country Artist of the Year and Country Artist of the Year, Duo or Group had not yet been announced. Congratulations to all the winners!
Country fans will want to throw another log on the fire and park it on the couch come January 9, when the 29th Annual American Music Awards will be handed out at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Toby Keith and Brooks & Dunn are scheduled to perform on the awards program, which will air live on ABC Television. Clint Black, Reba McEntire, Jo Dee Messina, Jamie O'Neal, LeAnn Rimes, SHeDAISY and Trick Pony are scheduled to be among the award presenters. None other than country's biggest superstar, Garth Brooks, will receive the 29th annual Award of Merit, which recognizes "outstanding contributions to the musical entertainment of the American public." Brooks is one of the most successful solo artists in music history. As I reported last month, country fans can also vote for Tim McGraw for the American Music Awards' Fan's Choice Award by logging on to www.americanmusicawards.com before January 9.
When the nominees were announced recently for the 28th Annual People's Choice Awards, country artists popped up in a number of categories. Although these awards offer no strictly country music categories, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and George Strait have been nominated in the Favorite Male Musical Performer category, while Faith Hill will compete against pop music's Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears for the title of Favorite Female Musical Performer. The Dixie Chicks will duke it out with the boy bands, namely the Backstreet Boys and `NSync, in the Favorite Musical Group or Band category. And Reba McEntire has made country music proud by being nominated for the Favorite Female Performer in a New Television Series award for her critically acclaimed new sitcom, Reba. This year's People's Choice Awards will be handed out live on CBS-Television on January 13.
"Where Were You" & Alan To Hit Record Stores
Fans of Alan Jackson's emotionally stirring latest hit, "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" (and how could you NOT be a huge fan of this song), are in luck, as this tune, which was written by the long-legged Newnan, Ga. boy himself, will hit record stores on January 15. Two versions of the song, a studio version and the live version of Alan's debut performance of the song on the Country Music Association awards show last November, will appear on Alan's brand new album titled Drive. Fans are in for a real treat as three-fourths of the album was written or co-written by Alan, including another sure-to-be-a-hit duet with the incredible George Strait, titled "Designated Drinker."
Country Legal News
If you've been reading this for the past several months, then you are aware of Trace Adkins' legal troubles stemming from his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol last July. On November 26, Trace was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, was fined $350 and had his driver's licensed revoked for one year. Trace's sentence will reportedly be suspended once he serves a mere 48 hours. Keep reading in future months for more details as they become available.
You may recall the legal troubles the developed for Nicholasville, Ky.'s own John Michael Montgomery in the mid-1990s surrounding the video for his hit song "I Miss You A Little." The video included various footage of John Michael's then recently deceased father, Harold Montgomery, who had hoped to be a country singer himself in his day. John Michael's step-mother, Barbara Montgomery sued her famous step-son, saying that he did not have permission to use videos of his late father or shots of his tombstone, claiming John Michael had violated his father's "rights of publicity." In a 5-2 vote, the Kentucky Supreme Court recently ruled that John Michael did not violate his father's rights. All's well that ends well!
Two Country Greats Joining Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame
It was recently announced that two of country's greatest performers will be inducted into the Rock `n' Roll Hall of Fame this year. "Little Miss Dynamite," Brenda Lee, who began her career in Rock `n' Roll at the ripe old age of 11, will be honored with this induction along with the late, great guitarist Chet Atkins, in New York City on March 18 during the Rock `n' Roll Hall of Fame's 17th annual induction. Lee, who has already been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (as has Atkins), recently said, "I gained my success in the rock field, and I was one of the first female rock singers. To be recognized for that really means something to me, as it did when I went into the Country Music Hall of Fame, because I had a very great country music career, too. But I think that I was one of the people that laid the foundation for what Rock `n' Roll is." Atkins, who is often referred to as "Mr. Guitar," gained induction based on his masterful guitar-pickin' on hits such as the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Bye Bye Love" and Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."
In addition to Lee and Atkins, Isaac Hayes, Gene Pitney, The Ramones, Stax Records co-founder Jim Stewart, the Talking Heads and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will be inducted into the hall of fame this year. Congratulations to all the inductees!
Country Health Watch
Fiddler extraordinaire Charlie Daniels has been burning up country airwaves lately with his patriotic offering inspired by the Sept.11 terrorist attacks, but this new-found popularity isn't the only reason he has to celebrate these days. Charlie underwent prostate cancer surgery in a Nashville-area hospital in late November, and he is happy to report that the surgery was a great success, as the cancer was contained and completely removed. When recently asked about this surgery, Charlie said, "I thank Almighty God for the healings." Best wishes to Charlie for a complete and speedy recovery!
Last month Tex-Mex country crooner Freddy Fender, best known for his smash hits "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights" and "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," was honored in his hometown of San Benito, Tex. with a parade, music and Tex-Mex cuisine on the 8th Annual Freddy Fender Day. This honor came at a perfect time to lift Freddy's spirits, as he has been in poor health recently, suffering with kidney problems. Although Fender's health has been deteriorating for some time, his health should improve, as he is scheduled to undergo kidney transplant surgery at San Antonio's University of Texas later this month. And just who will be his kidney donor? None other than his very own daughter, Marla Huerta Garcia. Best wishes to Freddy for a successful surgery and speedy recovery!
Country Family Album
Country newcomer Chalee Tennison made her fourth trip down the aisle recently when she married her guitar player. Chalee and Mark Gillespie were married in an intimate ceremony in the wedding capitol of the South, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Fellow country singer Paul Brandt performed his hit "I Do" during the ceremony for the happy couple.
Chad Brock has rebounded from his whirlwind meeting (which inspired his hit "Yes!"), marriage, and divorce from his second wife. Chad took Natalie Bell to be his third wife December 8 in a Las Vegas wedding chapel, just a few days before leaving the country to entertain some of our military troops stationed in Japan.
Country-turned-pop singer LeAnn Rimes let the cat out of the bag last month backstage at Elton John's AIDS benefit concert titled "The Concert: 20 Years of AIDS" when she admitted that she is engaged to be married to dancer Dean Sheremet. LeAnn did not share any wedding details.
Country superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill welcomed their third daughter into the world just last month. Audrey Caroline McGraw, named after her famous mother, whose name is Audrey Faith, made her debut on this earth a month early on December 6, joining big sisters Gracie, four years old and three-year-old Maggie. Although Audrey's parents aren't saying much about her much-anticipated birth, they each released a statement regarding the blessed event. Proud papa Tim said, "I'm still king of the house, and my girls will always keep me in line. I couldn't be happier," while Faith said, "Maggie, Gracie, Tim and I couldn't be happier. To be blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby girl - what a way to kick off the holiday season for us."
Famed country guitarist Grady Martin passed away just a few days prior to Audrey McGraw's birth. The 72-year-old guitarist died of heart failure on December 3. Grady performed with Grand Ole Opry member Billy Walker for years, and played guitar on country classics such as Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter" and Marty Robbins' "El Paso."
Well, that's it for this month. As we begin this new year, I hope this will be your happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous year ever. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."