Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Billboard Music Awards Winners

As the new year begins, the music awards programs will start airing nearly as regularly as the morning news programs, daily soap operas and daily gab-fests. Well, Billboard magazine got a jumpstart on all the other award shows when they handed out their awards last month. When the 2002 Billboard Music Awards winners were announced, our man Toby Keith was the only winner in the country music realm, but he did us proud. Singles such as "Who's Your Daddy" and "I Wanna Talk About Me" helped the Oklahoman capture the Country Singles Artist of the Year award.

Hats off to Toby! Keep up the good work.

People's Choice Awards Nominees

Come January 12, the best entertainers on television, on film and on the radio airwaves will be recognized when the 29th Annual People's Choice Awards are handed out. Three of country's finest will represent their genre of music as they will vie for the top music categories. Faith Hill will compete with popsters Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez for the Favorite Female music award while Alan Jackson will compete with rapper Eminen and R&B's Nelly for Favorite Male. The Dixie Chicks are nominated for Favorite Group or Band along with rockers Creed and popsters `N Sync. Be sure to tune into the People's Choice Awards, which will air live on CBS Television and root for Faith, the Dixie Chicks and Alan.

American Music Awards Nominees

When the nominees for the American Music Awards were announced recently, the Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson and Toby Keith each garnered two nods. The Chicks will vie for Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Country Music and Favorite Album - Country Music for Home. Alan and Toby will each vie for Favorite Male Artist - Country Music, as well as Favorite Album - Country Music for Drive and Unleashed, respectively. Competing against Alan and Toby for Favorite Male Artist will be Tim McGraw, while Martina McBride, Jo Dee Messina and Lee Ann Womack will compete for the title of Favorite Female Artist - Country Music. Competing against the Chicks for Favorite Band, Duo or Group will be Brooks & Dunn and Lonestar and competing against the Chicks, Alan and Toby for Favorite Album will be Kenny Chesney's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems. The Favorite New Artist - Country Music category includes Kellie Coffey, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Tommy Shane Steiner.

The AMA program will be hosted by America's favorite rock family, the Osbournes (dad Ozzy, mom Sharon and kids Kelly and Jack) and will air live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on ABC Television on January 13. Tim McGraw will open the show performing "Tiny Dancer" with the tune's originator, the legendary Elton John. Kenny Chesney is also scheduled to perform his smash "Young," and watch for Toby Keith and the legendary "Red Headed Stranger," Willie Nelson to perform "Beer For My Horses." Shania Twain is also scheduled to perform. Kellie Coffey, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Lonestar, Martina McBride, Jo Dee Messina and Lee Ann Womack are scheduled as presenters during the awards show.

George Strait Hotter Than Ever

At 50 years old, the consummate country performer, "The Cowboy," George Strait is hotter than ever as he continues to break records. George recently broke the late Conway Twitty's long-running record of having the most #1 records by a single artist in any genre of music. Conway held the record with 49 #1 hits, but George's recent "She'll Leave You With A Smile" broke that record when it hit the top of the charts. George earned his first #1 with "Fool Hearted Memory" in 1982, has sold over 57 million records and has received 25 platinum (million-selling) album certifications.

When George heard the news of this new record, he said, "While I am extremely pleased and excited about reaching this milestone in my career, I realize that it would not have been possible without an enormous amount of support from the fans and from country radio as well as the unending effort of dozens, maybe even hundreds of great people who have worked at MCA Records over the course of my career. There is no way that I can find the words to properly express my gratitude to everyone for their help. I am very humbled by it all."

With all the millions of records George has sold, he has never released a live album, but that is all about to change come next month. On February 11, George's For The Last Time - Live From The Astrodome will hit store shelves. The 16 songs included on the album were recorded on March 3, 2002 on the closing night of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in the Houston Astrodome, home of the highly-anticipated annual event for the last 37 years. That particular night, George broke the attendance record for the venue, drawing in 68,266 fans for the last event ever held in the arena. The Houston Astrodome has since been torn down and the Houston Livestock and Rodeo will take place in its brand new home at Reliant Stadium on February 25. Who better to participate in the opening ceremonies: George himself.

And if you're not up to traveling to Houston to see George perform, you're in luck because just three days later, February 28, George will be joined by Tammy Cochran for a concert in Freedom Hall.

Congratulations, George!

More Trouble for Carlene Carter

It seems that singer/songwriter Carlene Carter, known for "I Fell In Love," can't seem to stay out of trouble with the law these days. The 47-year-old daughter of country legends June Carter Cash and Carl Smith was arrested in Hendersonville, Tenn., outside of Nashville on December 12 on two charges of identity theft. She was caught attempting to refill two prescriptions for the anti-depressant Zoloft using the name of Francis Reidy III, a former boyfriend. One major problem though - Reidy was killed in a car accident a few weeks prior. Carlene was released on a $5,000 bond.

As you might recall, I reported a couple years ago that Carlene was arrested in New Mexico when heroin and drug paraphernalia were found in a stolen SUV she was driving. Let's hope that Carlene will get her act together and get on the right track real soon!

Tim McGraw Rewards His Dancehall Doctors

It definitely pays to be a member of Tim McGraw's band, The Dancehall Doctors. Tim recently made a promise to his best friends who travel the highways with him and perform behind him onstage each night. Tim promised the guys that he would buy them each new wheels if their brand new album, Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors, sold more than half a million copies during its first week of release. Lucky for the band, who make their recording debut with their favorite country front-man, the album sold nearly 602,000 copies its first week. And Tim kept his word and presented each Dancehall Doctor a set of wheels during a party at a Nashville restaurant last month. Lead guitarist, band leader and album co-producer Darran Smith was given a Harley Davidson motorcycle, as were drummer Billy Mason and fiddler Dean Brown. Drummer David Dunkley was handed the keys to a 1968 Ford Galaxy convertible, steel guitarist Denny Hemingson a 1968 Impala SS, bassist John Marcus a 1981 Corvette, keyboardist Jeff McMahon a 1969 Corvette and Bob Minner, who plays a variety of instruments, received a 1964 Chevelle El Camino.

Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors has gone on to sell more than a million copies. Congratulations to Tim and the Dancehall Doctors. Enjoy the new wheels.

Country Stars Sing for the Troops

Hats off not only to our troops overseas fighting for our country, but also our country stars who traveled to entertain our troops during the recent holiday season. Aaron Tippin and his band spent the week of Thanksgiving spreading some holiday cheer for our troops in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Qatar. Aaron and the boys were just "one of the guys" as they slept in tents and ate in the mess hall just like the troops.

Darryl Worley and guitarist Jeff Jared spent a few weeks last month, including Christmas, in Afghanistan with the troops as part of the "On Duty For You" tour sponsored by the United States Army and the USO. The pair performed with the U.S. Army Band during a 90-minute show featuring seasonal numbers, as well as major hits.

Thanks to Aaron, Darryl and Jeff for spreading some holiday cheer to our troops who did not have the privilege of spending the holidays with their family because of their commitment to fighting for our country's freedom.

Martina McBride Spread The Joy of Christmas

The 5,000 fans who gathered into the intimate setting of Freedom Hall December 14 really did enjoy the spirit of the holiday as Martina McBride performed her state-of-the-art festive production, "The Joy of Christmas." Definitely not a typical concert, or typical concert setting for that matter, this production was unlike anything you've ever seen. Centered around a burgundy, forest green and gold stage which resembled an elegantly wrapped gift, the show featured character actors, brilliant props and three larger-than-life video screens creating a backdrop of New York's skyline, city sidewalks, Santa's workshop, a snowy wintery wonderland, a breathtaking cathedral and Martina's very own home videos with her daughters on Christmas morning. But nothing rivaled the angelic delivery of Christmas standards by the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music's reigning Female Vocalist of the Year vocal powerhouse, the petite and dainty Martina McBride.

Martina took fans on a stroll through Manhattan's "city sidewalks, busy sidewalks," took a few lucky fans from the audience along with her on a caroling adventure and quizzed audience members on their favorite Christmas present, worst Christmas present and their family traditions as she mingled with the crowd. The children in the audience were invited onstage to sit at Martina's feet as she read the classic "'Twas The Night Before Christmas," and to enjoy a medley of childhood Christmas favorites. A few lucky children even got their turn at the microphone to sing their favorite holiday treat, including "Frosty The Snowman," of which no one, including Martina, could remember all the lyrics. To top it all off, the children were treated to a surprise visit by old St. Nick himself.

The highlight of the evening was Martina's spine-chilling closing number, "O Holy Night." She raised the rafters with her emotional delivery of the classic tune praising the birth of Jesus. Inspired by the Radio City Music Hall annual Christmas extravaganza featuring the Rockettes, "The Joy Of Christmas" was a one-of-a-kind holiday performance which Martina promises to bring back to Louisville next Christmas. The stunningly talented Martina McBride is truly a class act in every sense of the word.

Well, that's it for this month. As the new year begins, I hope this is 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."