Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Cash & Jackson Lead CMA Winners

When the 37th Annual Country Music Association Awards were handed out last month at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House, the late "Man in Black," Johnny Cash and the long-legged Newnan, Ga. boy Alan Jackson were the big winners. Cash captured three of the four trophies he was nominated for, including Single and Music Video of the Year for "Hurt" and Album of the Year for American IV: The Man Comes Around. Jackson walked away with the top prize, the coveted Entertainer of the Year, as well as Male Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year along with Jimmy Buffett for "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" (this was Buffett's very first music award). The biggest surprise of the evening was the fact that fan-favorite Toby Keith walked into the awards program with a whopping seven nominations, but walked out empty-handed. There was definitely no surprise that Martina McBride and Brooks & Dunn continued their reigns as Female Vocalist and Vocal Duo of the Year respectively.

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Alan Jackson; Female Vocalist of the Year: Martina McBride; Male Vocalist of the Year: Alan Jackson; Vocal Duo of the Year: Brooks & Dunn; Vocal Group of the Year: Rascal Flatts; Horizon Award: Joe Nichols; and Musician of the Year: Randy Scruggs.

Vocal Event of the Year: Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett's "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere"; Album of the Year: Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around; Song of the Year: Randy Travis' "Three Wooden Crosses," written by Doug Johnson & Kim Williams; Single of the Year: Johnny Cash's "Hurt"; and Music Video of the Year: Johnny Cash's "Hurt."

In addition to these awards, country crooner Carl Smith (ex-husband of the late June Carter Cash and father of Carlene Carter) and the late Floyd Cramer were inducted into the revered Country Music Hall of Fame. Johnny Cash was also recognized with the CMA Irving Waugh Award for representing country music worldwide.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Other Country Recognitions

Last month's Country Music Week was officially kicked off by the annual Nashville Songwriters Foundation gala. During this NSAI black-tie event, the late Hal Blair, Rodney Crowell, Paul Overstreet and John Prine were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In addition to these inductions, Toby Keith was named the Songwriter-Artist of the Year, Jeffrey Steele was named Songwriter of the Year and Randy Travis' "Three Wooden Crosses," which was written by Doug Johnson and Kim Williams, was named Song of the Year. The songwriters of the following 11 songs garnered Songwriter Achievement Awards: "Almost Home," "Celebrity," "Drift Away," "I Believe," "The Impossible," "A Lot of Things Different," "Somebody Like You," "Stay Gone," "Then They Do," "Three Wooden Crosses," and "Travelin' Soldier."

The annual BMI Song Awards were handed out on the eve of the 37th Annual CMA Awards. The Robert J. Burton Award/Most Performed Country Song of the Year was awarded to the Dixie Chicks' "Landslide," written by Stevie Nicks. Jeffrey Steele was named Songwriter of the Year, having written this year's hits "Chrome," "The Cowboy in Me," "My Town," and "These Days." Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville was crowned Publisher of the Year and the Icon Award was presented to international superstar Dolly Parton, who has written more than 3,000 songs throughout her illustrious career. In addition, the 50 Most Performed Songs of the Year were named.

Nearly a week following being once again crowned Vocal Duo of the Year along with partner Ronnie Dunn, Brooks & Dunn's Kix Brooks was honored by the Country Music Association in a very special way. Being a true champion for country music, Brooks was named the CMA Board President, being the first artist to be appointed to the position since Tex Ritter's 1965 appointment.

The Dixie Chicks have had a roller coaster of a ride this year following Natalie Maine's disparaging remarks against President George W. Bush during a London concert in March. The trio was completely shut out at last month's CMA awards program, but it was later announced that Natalie, Martie and Emily were awarded the Country Music Association International Artist Achievement Award for contributing to "the awareness and development of country music outside North America." Their "Top of the World" Tour was one of the most profitable tours across all genres of music this year.

Four artists who were totally overlooked by the CMA voters this year were honored when the 31st Annual American Music Awards were handed out November 16. The husband and wife team Tim McGraw and Faith Hill was crowned Favorite Male & Female Artist, Country respectively. Supergroup Alabama, which is retiring after 25 years on the road, was named Favorite Band, Group, Duo, Country and CMA step-child Toby Keith captured the Favorite Album, Country trophy for Unleashed.

Congratulations to all these winners!

Country Stocking Stuffers

With the recent drop in CD prices, what better gift to buy those on your Christmas shopping list than one of the hottest country CDs of the year. Your favorite record store is overflowing with quality country music released this year. Toby Keith is back with a vengeance with Shock `N Ya'll, Alan Jackson offers his Greatest Hits Volume II and Shania Twain has continued to break records with her latest disc, Up!, which contains both a country and a pop version of the CD. June Carter Cash finished recording her final, must-have CD just prior to her death. Wildwood Flower is an endearing collection of heartfelt tunes, including a handful of Carter Family classics. If you have a Johnny Cash fan on your shopping list, then you can't pass up the recently released box set, Cash Unearthed. And Reba McEntire fans would be tickled pink with their favorite redhead's first CD in nearly four years, Room to Breathe.

Tribute albums come and go, but this year has offered an impressive collection of tributes worthy of your hard-earned dollar. The late Waylon Jennings is remembered in song on I've Always Been Crazy: Tribute to Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline is once again immortalized on the long-awaited Remembering Patsy Cline. Louvin Brothers fans will be pleased with Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs of The Louvin Brothers and Dolly Parton fans are in for a real treat as country, bluegrass and rock artists beautifully transform Parton penned tunes to brand new works of art on Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton.

Wynonna Arrested for DUI

Ashland, Ky. native Wynonna Judd made headlines last month, but not for her music or the fact that she is heading down the aisle a second time. In the wee hours of the morning on November 13, Wynonna was pulled over in Nashville, reportedly driving 47 m.p.h. in a 30 m.p.h. zone. The arresting cop stated that Wynonna smelled of alcohol, had watery eyes and dilated pupils and a breathalyzer test registered more than twice the legal limit. The disoriented singer appeared in night court and was released after posting a $500 bond.

Later that same day, Wynonna released the following statement: "I know there is never a situation where drinking and driving is acceptable and I take full responsibility for my error in judgment. I had been out celebrating my upcoming wedding and a girlfriend's birthday last night and clearly let my excitement get the best of me. I am always thinking about the safety of others and that of my family and have learned a very serious lesson."

True Love is Over for Morgan & Kershaw

Country songstress Lorrie Morgan has always been a hopeless romantic and has thought she has found true love time and time again. Her latest marriage to fellow country artist Sammy Kershaw was supposed to be the last marriage for both, but things haven't quite happened as planned. The couple married in late 2001 and it looks like they are headed for splitsville. Early last month, Morgan's 16-year-old son reportedly went hunting without adult supervision and his gunshots caused Kershaw's dog to run away. The result was a huge marital spat leading to the feuding couple receiving court orders of protection against one another. Kershaw locked Morgan out of the house and Morgan proceeded to break into the house by smashing a window and cleaning out her belongings.

Morgan recently released the following statement: "As with any ending, emotions run high, hearts sag and so it is for me with the dissolution of my life with Sammy. We have loved each other and loved the union of our two families. However, there are things between us that caused our love to lose its luster, things that made if difficult for us to harmonize well in our daily lives. Our parting requires adjustments for each of us and for our families. It is my hope that we can move through this time as gently as possible, that we can be an example of integrity for others coming up against the same heartache. Though there have been difficult moments for us, I hope it will be the way we loved that we remember. I hope that each of us and our families can start new, shaped by the way our lives have touched."

Ring in the New Year with Montgomery Gentry

Lexington will likely be home to the rowdiest New Year's Eve party this year. Kentucky's own party boys, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, best known as the duo Montgomery Gentry, will head home to party with the masses in Rupp Arena. The boys will be bringing The Charlie Daniels Band, Phil Vassar and Dierks Bentley along with them to ring in 2004. Get your tickets now as this show is destined to sell fast.

Country Baby Boom

There has been a definite baby boom within country music as of late. "Someone Else's Star" singer Bryan White and his wife, actress Erika Page, welcomed their first child into the world on October 24. Justin Daniel weighed 7 lbs., 7 ½ oz. and measured 19 ¾ in. long. White stated, "The birth of our son was the greatest moment of my life."

"Wave on Wave" singer Pat Green and wife Lori welcomed a son into the world on October 27. Born in Austin, Texas, baby Green weighed in at 8 lbs., 1 oz. and measured 20 in. long.

Two more Dixie Chicks are scheduled to make their debut next year. No, the trio is not gaining two new members, but rather two new baby Chicks. Fiddler Martie Maguire is currently rehearsing lullabies as she and husband Gareth recently announced that they are expecting twins. She wrote on the trio's website: "I can't tell you what an emotional ride this road to getting pregnant has been. I know that compared to some couples' struggles, ours has been relatively easy, but I will say that we have an all-new appreciation for the miracle of life."

Congratulations to the Whites and the Greens and best wishes to the Maguires!

Well, that's not only it for another month, but for another year. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family the happiest holiday season ever. If you are in a position where you can help, I hope you'll remember those who are less fortunate at this time of year. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."