Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Local Changes at Clear Channel Comm.

If you've listened to country music powerhouse radio station WAMZ, 97.5 FM lately, you might be wondering what's going on with the DJ shakeup. Well, there have been a lot of behind-the-scenes changes at Clear Channel Communications, Inc. (the owner of WAMZ) as they were recently sold to a private investment group. Often when ownership changes, personnel are affected and, unfortunately, Louisville's Clear Channel stations were not immune. The shift in owners resulted in the loss of midday on-air personality Night Train Lane and weekend host Joe Sharkey. To overcome these losses, evening DJ Gator Glass has moved to the 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. midday shift, while weekend DJ Brad Bell has picked up the 6 p.m. - midnight shift. The morning show remains the same with hosts Bobby Jack Murphy, Jill Laurens and Roy Raines. The afternoon drive shift will eternally be filled by Coyote Calhoun.

Despite the recent shakeups, keep that country music blaring, guys and gals!

Brooks & Dunn Dominate CMA Awards

When the 40th Annual Country Music Association Awards were handed out in Nashville last month, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, better known as Brooks & Dunn, were much more than just the hosts of the show-they were the stars of the show. The pair won their 14th trophy for Vocal Duo of the Year, while their "Believe" was named Single and Video of the Year. "Believe" was also named Song of the Year, the trophy going to the songwriters, which just so happens to be Dunn and Craig Wiseman. As a duo, B&D have received 18 CMA trophies, tying them with Vince Gill, the previous record-holder, for the most number of wins. Dunn's songwriting win makes him the new record-holder with a whopping 19 wins.

Following behind Brooks & Dunn with two wins each were Carrie Underwood (Horizon Award & Female Vocalist of the Year) and Brad Paisley (Album of the Year for Time Well Wasted & Musical Event of the Year along with Dolly Parton for "When I Get Where I'm Going"). Kenny Chesney was named Entertainer of the Year, while Keith Urban, who wasn't in attendance due to a stay in rehab for alcohol abuse, was named Male Vocalist of the Year. Hall of Famer Kris Kristofferson welcomed Harold Bradley, Sonny James and George Strait into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Kenny Chesney; Female Vocalist of the Year: Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Brooks & Dunn; and Vocal Group of the Year: Rascal Flatts.

Horizon Award: Carrie Underwood; Musical Event of the Year: Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton's "When I Get Where I'm Going"; Single of the Year: Brooks & Dunn's "Believe"; and Song of the Year (awarded to songwriter and publisher): Brooks & Dunn's "Believe."

Album of the Year: Brad Paisley's Time Well Wasted; Music Video of the Year: Brooks & Dunn's "Believe; and Musician of the Year: Randy Scruggs (guitar).

Congratulations to all the winners!

Brooks & Dunn and Underwood Continue Winning Streaks

Following their multiple wins at the November 6 CMA awards, Brooks & Dunn and Carrie Underwood continued their winning streaks three nights later at the Inspirational Country Music Awards also held in Nashville. B&D's "Believe" was named Song of the Year and Video of the Year, while Underwood was crowned Mainstream Country Artist of the Year thanks to her chart-topping smash debut single, "Jesus, Take the Wheel."

Hats off to Kix, Ronnie and Carrie!

Rascal Flatts Big Country Winner at AMAs

The annual American Music Awards were also handed out late last month and country music was once again well represented, especially thanks to Rascal Flatts. Gary, Joe Don and Jay walked away with the trophies for Country Band, Duo, or Group and the fan-voted T-Mobile Text-In Award. Other country winners included Faith Hill for Country Female Artist of the Year and Toby Keith for Country Male Artist of the Year, as well as Tim McGraw, whose Greatest Hits, Volume 2 was named Country Album of the Year. Carrie Underwood must be the Energizer Bunny as she keeps winning and winning, being crowned the Breakthrough New Artist of the Year for all genres of music.

Congrats to all!

Faith Hill vs. Carrie Underwood? NOT!

Boy, does Faith Hill know how to stir up a controversy, or does she just know how to have a little fun? That was the big question following the presentation of the Female Vocalist of the Year trophy at the CMA awards. Upon the announcement that Carrie Underwood had won the trophy, being filmed live backstage at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, Hill threw up her hands in disgust and visibly uttered "What?" in disbelief of Underwood's win before storming off camera. Much was read into this apparent playful tirade, which was simply intended as a joke. Hill was immediately under-fire for the alleged disrespect of Underwood.

In a written statement the following day, Hill stated, "The idea that I would act disrespectful towards a fellow musician is unimaginable to me. For this to become a focus of attention, given the talent gathered, is utterly ridiculous. Carrie is a talented and deserving female vocalist of the year."

Come to find out, Hill's antics were indeed simply a joke. Hill called Underwood soon after the awards show to assure Underwood it was nothing more than a joke and she even congratulated her for the win. In response to this call, Underwood said, "When she hung up the phone, Tim and Faith just went up two notches in my book. How great of them to call me immediately."

Hill and Underwood Continue to "Duke It Out"

When the nominees were released for the 2006 Billboard Music Awards recently, it appears that Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood will once again be at each other's throat, as they will compete for Female Country Artist of the Year. Topping the list of nominees is Rascal Flatts with seven nods, followed by Underwood with six and Kenny Chesney with four.

And the nominees are: Country Artist of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, George Strait and Carrie Underwood; Female Country Artist: Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson; Male Country Artist: Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Josh Turner and Keith Urban; Duo/Group Country Artist: Brooks & Dunn, the Dixie Chicks, Little Big Town and Rascal Flatts; Country Album: Johnny Cash's The Legend of Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney's The Road & the Radio, Rascal Flatts' Me and My Gang and Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts; and Country Single: Rodney Atkins' "If You're Going Through Hell," Kenny Chesney's "Summertime," Steve Holy's "Brand New Girlfriend," Brad Paisley's "The World," Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most," and The Wreckers' "Leave the Pieces."

In addition to these nominations, Rascal Flatts will vie for Artist of the Year (all genres), Duo/Group of the Year (all genres) and Album of the Year (all genres) for Me and My Gang. Underwood will compete for Female Artist of the Year (all genres) and New Artist of the Year (all genres), as well as Album of the Year (all genres) for Some Hearts. Be sure to catch the Billboard Music Awards live on FOX-Television on December 4.

In addition to the Billboard awards, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood will also "duke it out" when the People's Choice Awards are handed out in Hollywood on January 9. The pair will compete alongside pop singer Shakira for Favorite Female Singer of the Year. Underwood's "Before He Cheats" will compete with Mr. Faith Hill, Tim McGraw's "When the Stars Go Blue" and Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most" for Favorite Country Song of the Year. Favorite Male Singer of the Year nominees are all country boys: Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith. The People's Choice Awards will air live on CBS-Television.

Keith Urban Checks In

Keith Urban is the first to admit that he has battled substance abuse in the past and that struggle continues. Although he has entered rehabilitation before to kick his cocaine habit, with wife Nicole Kidman by his side, he entered the Nashville area Cumberland Heights rehab center on October 19 for treatment for alcoholism.

Although he was forced to cancel his appearance on the CMA awards and appearances to promote his new album, Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing, which hit store shelves November 6, Urban's career is not struggling while he takes some much needed time to heal. His last album, Be Here, which was released in 2004, was recently certified quadruple platinum for shipments of more than 4 million copies.

Our best wishes to Keith during this difficult time!

Sara Evans' Divorce Continues

The drama continues in Sara Evans' highly publicized divorce from husband Craig Schelske. Since initially reporting this news last month, Schelske has turned the tables and even accused Evans of participating in an extra-marital affair and viewing pornography in front of the couple's minor children, among other allegations. The couple appeared in court recently for a divorce hearing at which time the two agreed on a gag order to keep divorce details out of the public and to split the $274,000 Evans accused her husband of withdrawing from joint checking account the day she filed for divorce. The two are working on a visitation schedule for Schelske to visit their three children and living arrangements for him outside the family's home.

Josh Gracin's Brood Increases

American Idol alum and the country crooning former Marine Josh Gracin is going to have to add another stocking to the mantle this Christmas. He and wife Ann Marie welcomed their third child into the world on November 15. Gabriella Ann Gracin tipped the scale at 7 lbs., 12 oz. Gabriella joins big sis Briana and big bro Landon.

Gracin fans will be happy to know that the singer's sophomore album, titled All About Y'all, is scheduled to hit stores early next year. The disc's first single is titled "I Keep Coming Back."

Congratulations to the Gracins on their new little bundle of joy!

Well, that's it for not only another month, but another year. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family the happiest holiday season ever and please remember the less fortunate if you are in a position to help out. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight 'cause country music is comin' your way."