Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Country Grammy Winners

Country went to the big city last month when the 45th Annual Grammy Awards were handed out at New York City's Madison Square Garden. The Dixie Chicks and Alan Jackson led the pack of country stars with four nominations each.....?????

And the winners are: Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Faith Hill for "Cry," Martina McBride for "Blessed," Dolly Parton for "Dagger Through The Heart, Lucinda Williams for "Lately," and Lee Ann Womack for "Something Worth Leaving Behind"; Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Johnny Cash for "Give My Love To Rose," Pat Green for "Three Days," Alan Jackson for "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)," Joe Nichols for "The Impossible," and Brad Paisley for "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)"; and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Diamond Rio for "Beautiful Mess," Dixie Chicks for "Long Time Gone," Lonestar for "Not A Day Goes By," Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for "Roll The Stone Away," and Trick Pony for "Just What I Do."

Best Country Song: Joe Nichols' "The Impossible" written by Kelley Lovelace & Lee Thomas Miller, Dixie Chicks' "Long Time Gone" written by Darrell Scott, Willie Nelson & Lee Ann Womack's "Mendocino County Line" written by Matt Serletic & Bernie Taupin, Pat Green's "Three Days" co-written with Radney Foster and Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)"; Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood's "Squeeze Me In," Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sheryl Crow & Emmylou Harris' "Flesh And Blood," Johnny Cash & Fionna Apple's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Willie Nelson & Lee Ann Womack's "Mendocino County Line," and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Taj Mahal, Alison Krauss & Doc Watson's "Will The Circle Be Unbroken"; and Best Country Instrumental Performance: Bering Strait's "Bearing Strait," The Chieftains & Earl Scruggs' "Sally Goodin," Dixie Chicks' "Lil' Jack Slade," Bela Fleck's "Bear Mountain Hop," and Nickel Creek's "Smoothie Song."

Best Country Album: Dixie Chicks' Home, Alan Jackson's Drive, Willie Nelson's The Great Divide, Joe Nichols' Man With A Memory and Dolly Parton's Halos & Horns. In addition to these nominations, the legendary "Man in Black," Johnny Cash will vie for the Contemporary Folk Album (Vocal or Instrumental) trophy for American IV-The Man Comes Around.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Shania Sweeps Juno Nominations

When the nominees were recently announced for the 32nd Annual Juno Awards, Canada's equivalent of the Grammy Awards, Shania Twain made quite a splash with five nods. She will vie for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Up!, Songwriter of the Year along with husband/producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange for "I'm Gonna Getcha Good!," and Country Recording of the Year for "I'm Gonna Getcha Good!," as well as the fan-voted Fan Choice Award. The only other country nominees were in the Country Recording of the Year category, which also includes Terri Clark's "I Just Want To Be Mad," Doc Walker's "Curve," Emerson Drive's "Emerson Drive," and Michelle Wright's "Shut Up And Kiss Me."

Shania will host this year's awards program, which will take place on April 6 in Canada's capital region of Ottawa-Gatineau.

Congratulations to Shania and all the other nominees!

Tim McGraw Headed to Town

Tim McGraw fans are in luck as their favorite country hunk is heading to town and in a manner like you've never seen him, or rather, never heard him before. Riding on the huge success of his recently released, critically-acclaimed, double-platinum-selling Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors album, this tour will bring the magic between Tim and his best friends, the members of his band, to the fans. Appropriately titled "Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors' One Band Show," this show is unlike any tour Tim has ever embarked upon. This must-see show will feature over two-and-a-half hours of music, including tunes from Tim's newest album, Tim's greatest hits and songs that McGraw and the band like to jam on during rehearsals and sound checks.

Talking about this exciting new tour - which kicks off March 7 in Birmingham, Alabama - McGraw noted that "This is the most ambitious tour we've ever set out to do. I want this tour to look and feel different than anything we've done in the past. We want the time and space to go deeper musically-to play album cuts and all kinds of songs that we jam on in rehearsal, but never get to play in concert. We want the fans to get to see the side of us as a band that we enjoy the most-hanging out and playing music all night with no time constraints. The challenge is to take a show that's twice as long and keep up our own standards of what it needs to be visually and dynamically. That's the ambitious part."

Tim and the Dancehall Doctors will perform at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center's Freedom Hall on March 26. Tickets are already on sale and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations, at the Freedom Hall box office, or by calling (502) 361-3100.

American Idol Meets Music City, U.S.A.

It was only a matter of time before country music jumped on the reality television bandwagon. Fans of FOX-TV's runaway hit show American Idol, which searches for our nation's next big pop star, will be glad to hear that a country music version of the show will debut on cable's USA Network this month. Nashville Star, which will debut at 9 p.m. ET on March 8, will be a cross between American Idol and Big Brother, where a group of strangers live together in one house.

Finalists for Nashville Star were selected from over 8,000 country music star hopefuls in 48 talent contests around the nation and five semifinal regional rounds. The finalists, who range from the ages of 19 to 41, will be videotaped for eight weeks as they share a home in Nashville. Just like American Idol, this show will feature three judges to rate each of the superstar wannabes. And the judges are: singer/songwriter Charlie Robison (also known as husband to Dixie Chick Emily Robison), country music journalist extraordinaire Robert K. Oermann and Sony Music A&R executive Tracy Gershon. In addition to these permanent judges, there will also be rotating guest celebrity judges.

So, what is the big prize for becoming the Nashville Star? The lucky winner will land himself or herself a recording contract with Sony Music Nashville. And to top it all off, country superstar Clint Black will produce the winner's debut album.

Be sure to tune in to see the premiere episode of Nashville Star at 9 p.m. ET, March 8 on the USA Network and best wishes to all the contestants.

More Stars Sidelined with Voice Problems

As I reported last month, Heidi Newfield of the hot trio Trick Pony has been sidelined with voice problems. Well, a couple more artists have been added to the sick list. Country traditionalist singer and actor Randy Travis has already been taking some unplanned time off this year. Just last month, he was ordered to rest his voice for three weeks to prevent damage to his distinctive voice. When asked about his voice problems, Randy said, "I've kept a busy schedule and unfortunately, this doctor ordered down time to rest my voice as what I have to do to keep going the rest of the year."

Hot Australian country newcomer Keith Urban has also been forced to cancel dates for several weeks due to a persistent and serious vocal chord ailment. Keith's doctor at The Vanderbilt Voice Clinic says, "Although Keith is improving, he is still very much at risk. Should he return prematurely to normal voice use, including singing and speaking, he could risk damage of a potentially permanent nature."

Urban had the following to say: "I'm devastated by these developments and the number of people who will be affected by this situation and for that I am sorry. There are no words to express my disappointment, but I know that I need to abide by my doctors' instructions so that I am completely healthy in time to kick off the tour with Kenny Chesney in April."

"Maybe It Was Memphis" singer Pam Tillis has also been added to the list of ailing country artists. Pam has been ordered to rest her voice for two weeks due to a bruising of the vocal cords. She is also being treated at Vanderbilt and her manager says, "We are very confident in [the doctor's] diagnosis and have absolute confidence that with the rehabilitation plan [he] is putting together, Pam's voice will be even stronger than before."

As a result of their vocal rest, both Randy and Keith were forced to cancel their performances at the Country Radio Seminar. Best wishes to Heidi, Keith, Pam and Randy on a speedy recovery!

Plans Underway for Fan Fair 2003

Plans are already underway for the International Country Music Fan Fair 2003 festival to be held in downtown Nashville June 5-8. The festivities, which include autograph signings, the 2nd Annual Andy Griggs Celebrity Archery Tournament and a celebrity lecture series, will be highlighted with nightly concerts at the Tennessee Titans' home turf, The Coliseum. So far, the following artists have been confirmed to appear at this year's Fan Fair: Trace Adkins, Steve Azar, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Cagle, Deanna Carter, Kenny Chesney, Terri Clark, Kellie Coffey, Diamond Rio, Bill Engvall, Sara Evans, Andy Griggs, Jennifer Hanson, Tracy Lawrence, Little Big Town, MARCEL, Martina McBride, Neal McCoy, Jo Dee Messina, John Michael Montgomery, Montgomery Gentry, Pinmonkey, Sixwire, Anthony Smith, Marty Stuart, Rick Trevino, Trick Pony, Keith Urban and Mark Wills.

Tickets for Fan Fair 2003 are already on sale and are going quickly. Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations, by calling (866) FAN-FAIR (326-3247), or by logging on to

www.FanFair.com

.

Sara Evans' Family Expands

Award-winning "Born To Fly" singer Sara Evans and her husband, Craig Schelske, welcomed their second child into the world January 22. Daughter Olivia Margaret Schelske weighed in at 8 lbs., 7 oz. and measured 20 in. long. Big brother, 3 ½ year old Avery was excited to welcome his baby sister and said, "Mommy, I think she has cute toes!"

Sara did not sit around the house eating bon-bons throughout this pregnancy, awaiting the blessed event. In addition to touring throughout the early months of her pregnancy, Sara put the finishing touches on her fourth album, the follow-up to her double-platinum Born To Fly, which sold over 2 million copies. Sara's yet-to-be-titled new album is expected to hit store shelves this summer, but fans should keep their ears open for the first single from the album, "Back Seat Of A Greyhound Bus."

Congratulations, Sara and Craig!

Kentucky Speedway "Country Stampede Presented by Belterra Casino Resort"

The country concert event of the year will take place right here in the Bluegrass state. The "Country Stampede Presented by Belterra Casino Resort" will happen June 6-8 at Sparta, Ky.'s Kentucky Speedway, offering country fans three days chock full of some of the hottest artists in country music. Performing Friday, June 6 will be Trace Adkins, The Del McCoury Band, Jolie Edwards, Jeff Foxworthy, Mountain Heart, Ky. native Ricky Skaggs, Shevy Smith and Travis Tritt. Performing Saturday, June 7 will be Rhett Akins, Chad Brock, Wade Hayes, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Cledus T. Judd, Taylorsville, Ky.'s own Shannon Lawson, Lonestar, Brad Paisley, Daryle Singletary and Phil Vassar. And wrapping up the three-day country extravaganza on Sun, June 8 will be Gary Allan, Rodney Atkins, Kellie Coffey, Diamond Rio, Emerson Drive, Aaron Lines and Sawyer Brown.

For best prices, order your tickets before April 2, on which date prices will increase. Through April 1, ticket prices are as follows: one-day general admission, $40; 3-day general admission, $75, 3-day reserved seating, $150; and 3-day VIP seating, $400. To purchase general admission tickets, call (888) 652-RACE. For VIP tickets and camping information, call (800) 795-8091. Tickets can also be purchased online at

www.kentuckyspeedway.com

and Tickets.com.

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