Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Music Awards Update

The time has finally arrived for country music's biggest night. The country music tour bus caravan will stop at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House for the 37th Annual Country Music Association Awards on November 5. With an amazing eight nominations, it appears that 2003 might go down in the country history books as the "Year of Toby Keith" (whose brand new Shock `N Y'all CD hits stores November 4). Brooks & Dunn, the late Johnny Cash and Brad Paisley follow Keith with an impressive four nominations each, while Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson and Darryl Worley each received three nods. The three-hour telecast promises some memorable musical moments as Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett will perform their smash summer hit "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" and Dolly Parton and Norah Jones will perform a duet of "The Grass Is Blue" from the recently released Parton tribute album, Just Because I'm A Woman: The Songs of Dolly Parton. Other performers include Gary Allan, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Terri Clark, host Vince Gill, Buddy Jewell, Keith, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Joe Nichols, Brad Paisley (with actors William Shatner, Anthony Clark and Mike O'Malley), Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Shania Twain and Darryl Worley. The awards program will air live on CBS-Television.

Country music will be well-represented when the 31st Annual American Music Awards are handed out November 16 in Los Angeles. As I reported last month, top country nominees include Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Shania Twain, each receiving two nods. Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett will perform "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" during the live telecast and Alabama, Glen Campbell, Jo Dee Messina, Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes and keith urban will be among presenters. Fans can catch the show live on ABC-Television.

Public Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute Scheduled for this Month

Musicians from several genres of music will converge on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium on November 10 to pay tribute to the late "Man in Black," Johnny Cash, who passed away September 12 at the age of 71. Tickets for the event were offered free to the public via a lottery of mailed-in requests. The all-star tribute will include Cash's daughter Rosanne Cash, Jack Clement, Sheryl Crow, Cash's former son-in-law Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Fisk Jubilee Singers, Larry Gatlin, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Cash's former son-in-law and band member Marty Stuart, Jimmy Tittle, Travis Tritt, Johnny Western, Hank Williams, Jr. and Dwight Yoakam. A video-taped tribute by actress Whoopi Goldberg is also planned. U2 front-man Bono, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have been invited to participate in this tribute but were not confirmed by press date.

The Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute will air on Country Music Television November 15 at 8 p.m.. Lou Robin, Cash's manager, stated that the Cash family wanted to televise the tribute to allow fans around the world to take part in honoring the late country music legend. He stated, "John Carter, Rosanne and the rest of the family just wanted to give the public closure to their feelings about John's death. They thought maybe this would be an opportunity for a lot of different entertainers to come and voice their feelings and perform and entertain."

Johnny Cash fans are in for a real treat as a five-CD box set of Cash's recordings on American Recordings in recent years will be released on November 25. This collection includes 79 recordings-15 from his last four albums and 64 which have never before been released. Also included is a 104-page book including Cash's final interviews along with producer Rick Rubin regarding creating his last recordings, as well as commentary on each track included in this collection. Also included in the book are quotes from children Rosanne and John Carter Cash.

Country Stars Recognized

Country crooner and actor Kenny Rogers was recently recognized for his contributions to the music world throughout his illustrious career. Eddy Arnold presented Rogers the International Entertainment Buyers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award during the IEBA's 33rd annual convention held recently in Nashville. Rogers is riding high these days with the recent release of his 61st album, Back to the Well. Although the album's first single is titled "Handprints on the Wall," it is the duets included on this disc that are causing quite a stir. Rogers reunited with Dolly Parton for a fun and flirtatious Parton-penned tune called "Undercover." The duo took the world by storm with their 1983 smash "Islands in the Stream," followed by "Real Love" and a highly successful Christmas album and television special titled A Christmas to Remember. Tim McGraw helps Rogers pay tribute to country legends Lefty Frizzell, Waylon Jennings, Marty Robbins and Hank Williams on a duet titled "Owe Them More Than That." And to round out the album, Alison Krauss offers beautiful harmony on "Love Like This."

The reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Martina McBride received quite a surprise during her Grand Ole Opry performance October 11. Vince Gill presented McBride the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award for her vast efforts to help end domestic violence. Upon receipt of this honor named after the late legendary Opry comedienne, McBride said, "I wish I could have known Minnie Pearl, but I feel like she's giving me a big hug tonight." McBride's musical crusade for domestic violence victims began with the release of her breakout hit "Independence Day" and has continued with songs like "Concrete Angel." McBride is currently enjoying great success from "This One's For The Girls," the first release from her new Martina CD, which finally treats fans to a live version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

The rowdier half of Brooks & Dunn, Kix Brooks was recently honored as a member of the Country Music Association board. CMA President Charlie Anderson presented Brooks the CMA President's Award during a recent board meeting in Chicago, recognizing Brooks' commitment to the organization. CMA Executive Director Ed Benson stated, "Kix has served as an important voice for our artists on the board. He stands up for what he believes is right and he gives both his time and energy to fulfill CMA's goals of increasing visibility and opportunities for country music...It is extremely appropriate to honor him in this way." And speaking of his commitment to country music, he and singing partner Ronnie Dunn are equally committed to their fans. The duo was on a plane to fly to New York for an outdoor concert for NBC-Television's Today Show when news of the recent East Coast blackout broke. The duo has rescheduled to play in Rockefeller Center on November 22 and they still plan to perform outdoors. Brooks said, "We had the option to go inside and strip it back, but that's just not what we do! If we're going to New York City, then we're gonna bring it on. We wanna give them the full-tilt Brooks & Dunn Neon Circus energy and that's just not a polite inside kind of thing. So, we're gonna load up, load in and have a ball."

Country Charity

When it comes to charity, no genre of music is as generous as the country music community. As recipients of this year's Academy of Country Music's Home Depot Humanitarian Award, the guys of Lonestar were to choose any city to receive a new playground compliments of Home Depot. The guys chose Jackson to receive a new community playground to be built November 19 because of extensive damage the city suffered from tornadoes which swept through the area earlier this year.

Last month, the guys of Diamond Rio hosted a golf tournament, auction and concert to benefit Nashville's Big Brothers Big Sisters program. NASCAR racer Tony Stewart joined the charity event during the band's performance at the Wildhorse Saloon and donated two racing suits which raised a whopping $21,500. Diamond Rio raised more than $200,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

While touring the country with his "Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors' One Band Show" tour this year, following their major arena show in select cities, Tim McGraw and his band took the stage at a small club to perform a "Bread & Water" benefit show. All proceeds from ticket sales and special merchandise for these jam-session concerts benefited the American Red Cross. Upon his recent presentation of $43,000 raised from these shows, McGraw stated, "We are living in a time where people need to stick together and help one another. The Red Cross provides a critical role in disaster response in this country. This donation is one way that we can help ensure that individuals and families get the help they need when disaster strikes. I hope that our fans will also be touched by the good work of the Red Cross and be inspired to support the organization's work in whatever way they can."

Flatwoods, Ky.'s own "Achy Breaky Heart" crooner Billy Ray Cyrus will be helping the children this holiday season. Cyrus has been named the honorary spokesperson for the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program. As spokesperson, Cyrus will encourage the public to donate new toys for children this Christmas season. In addition to his spokesperson duties, Cyrus recently completed and released his first gospel album, titled The Other Side. This album is very special to Cyrus, who says, "I call this the project of a lifetime for me because this album has been a lifetime in the making. Every bit of my roots, my influences and every bit of who I am is on this record."

Hats off to Lonestar, Diamond Rio, Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors and Billy Ray Cyrus for all their charity work!

Opry Gets Facelift & Moves to Ryman

Gaylord Entertainment, the parent company of the legendary Grand Ole Opry, is proud to announce the completion of a $7.5 million facelift for the Grand Ole Opry House. Renovations include new lighting and audio technology, an elevator, an expanded box office and a new 2400 sq-ft gift shop to be open seven days a week.

The Grand Ole Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher is excited about the renovated Opry House. "Already, we've heard great feedback from many Opry members about improvements to the sound and lighting and loyal fans are sharing their enthusiasm about our state-of-the-art Opry Shop, improved access and upgraded concession and restroom areas."

The Opry moved to its current home in 1974, previously residing in downtown Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium since 1943. Although the Opry House has been renovated, the Opry is going to celebrate its 78th anniversary at its former home. The Opry will spend all winter at the Ryman, returning to its permanent home on March 5, 2004. In the meantime, the newly renovated Grand Ole Opry House will host the 37th Annual Country Music Association Awards on November 5.

That's it for this month. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, `cause country music is comin' your way."