Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

AMA Country Winners

When the American Music Awards were handed out in Los Angeles on November 22, Tim McGraw was the big country winner. McGraw captured the title of Favorite Country Male Artist and his Live Like You Were Dying CD was named Favorite Country Album. The "Redneck Woman," Gretchen Wilson, was named Favorite Country Female Artist, while Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, AKA Brooks & Dunn, were named Favorite Country Band, Duo, or Group. Hot new group Sugarland had a whirlwind year last year with songs like "Baby Girl," "Something More," and their current single, "Just Might (Make Me Believe)." Their popularity and great success helped the trio land the title of Breakthrough Favorite New Artist of the Year for all genres of music, beating out Jesse McCartney and The Killers.

Billboard Honors Country's Finest

When the 2005 Billboard Music Awards winners were announced last month in Las Vegas, Toby Keith and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood swept the country categories. Keith was named Country Artist of the Year and Country Albums Artist of the Year. Underwood, who just released her debut CD, Some Hearts, walked away with three awards: Hot 100 Song of the Year, Top-Selling Country Single of the Year and Country Single Sales Artist of the Year for her debut single, "Inside Your Heaven/Independence Day."

Billboard magazine recently released its end-of-year lists for 2005 and Toby Keith had a huge presence. The Dawg topped the Top Country Artists and Top Country Artists - Male lists and worked his way toward the top of the Top Country Albums list, which was dominated by Shania Twain's Greatest Hits. Gretchen Wilson was ranked as Top Country Artist - Female, while hot new group Sugarland was the Top New Country Artist. Craig Morgan's "That's What I Love About Sunday" topped the Hot Country Songs list and Keith Urban's Golden Road landed at #1 on the Top Pop Catalog Artists list.

According to Billboard Boxscore magazine, Kenny Chesney's "Somewhere in the Sun" Tour was the top grossing country tour of 2005 and the second-highest attended tour of all genres of music. The tour grossed a whopping $65 million with an attendance of 1.1 million fans. Chesney was topped only by U2, who grossed $260 million. His tour played to more fans than the likes of The Eagles, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Elton John, The Dave Matthews Band, Jimmy Buffett and Green Day.

Sawyer Brown's Bus Involved in Fatal Crash

The ever-so-energetic Mark Miller and his group Sawyer Brown suffered a blow last month as their tour bus was involved in a fatal accident north of Topeka, Kansas. Jessica Mossman, 24, of Auburn, Kansas was killed December 10 when she failed to yield as she entered U.S. 75 and her car was struck by the bus. Both her car and the tour bus caught on fire, although no one on the bus was injured. Sawyer Brown lead singer Miller, keyboardist Gregg "Hobie" Hubbard and bassist Jim Scholten were aboard the bus at the time of the accident. The band's show scheduled for that evening at the Golden Eagle Casino near Horton, Kansas. was rescheduled.

Our sympathy goes out to the family of Ms. Mossman.

Paisley & Wilson Top Grammy Nominations

When the 2005 Grammy nominations were announced last month, Brad Paisley and Gretchen Wilson topped the list of country nominees, each being nominated in four categories. Paisley will vie for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song for "Alcohol," Best Country Album for Time Well Wasted and Best Country Instrumental Performance for "Time Warp." Wilson will compete for Best Country Female Vocal Performance and Best Country Song for "All Jacked Up," Best Country Album for All Jacked Up and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for "Politically Uncorrect" with Merle Haggard.

In addition to the strictly country nominations, Rascal Flatts are in the running for Song of the Year for all genres of music for "Bless the Broken Road." Sugarland will compete against Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Keane and John Legend in the Overall Best New Artist category. Martina McBride will compete against Missy Elliot, Gorillaz, Jamiroquai and Sarah McLachlan in the Best Short Form Music Video category for her video for "God's Will." The Legend box set by Johnny Cash and You Ain't Talkin' to Me - Charlie Poole & the Roots of Country Music will both compete in the Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package category.

And the country nominees are: Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Emmylou Harris' "The Connection," Faith Hill's "Mississippi Girl," Gretchen Wilson's "All Jacked Up," Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning," and Trisha Yearwood's "Georgia Rain"; Best Male Country Vocal Performance: George Jones' "Funny How Time Slips Away," Toby Keith's "As Good As I Once Was," Delbert McClinton's "Midnight Communion," Willie Nelson's "Good Ol' Boys," Brad Paisley's "Alcohol," and Keith Urban's "You'll Think of Me"; and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Big & Rich's "Comin' to Your City," Brooks & Dunn's "Play Something Country," Dixie Chicks' "I Hope," Alison Krauss & Union Station's "Restless," and Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road."

Best Country Song: Brad Paisley's "Alcohol," Gretchen Wilson's "All Jacked Up," Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road," Dixie Chick's "I Hope," and Lee Ann Womack's "I May Hate Myself in the Morning"; Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: Brooks & Dunn, Sheryl Crow & Vince Gill's "Building Bridges," Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris' "Shelter from the Storm," Faith Hill & Tim McGraw's "Like We Never Loved at All," Willie Nelson & Norah Jones' "Dreams Come True," and Gretchen Wilson & Merle Haggard's "Politically Uncorrect"; Best Country Album: Faith Hill's Fireflies, Alison Krauss & Union Station's Lonely Runs Both Ways, Brad Paisley's Time Well Wasted, Gretchen Wilson's All Jacked Up and Trisha Yearwood's Jasper County; and Best Country Instrumental Performance: Charlie Daniels' "I'll Fly Away," Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush & Bela Fleck's "Who's Your Uncle?," Alison Krauss & Union Station's "Unionhouse Branch," Nickel Creek's "Scotch and Chocolate," and Brad Paisley's "Time Warp."

Country's Heavy Metal

The long-legged, pony-tail wearing Trace Adkins is no stranger to heavy metal these days. His last album, Comin' on Strong, was certified platinum for shipment of 1 million copies early last year and by year's end, he had racked up yet another platinum certification. Adkins' current CD, Songs About Me, which includes the title track, the emotionally-stirring ballad "Arlington," and his current foot-stompin' "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," has also been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

One of the most talked about CDs of last year was none other than Martina McBride's Timeless album chock full of covers of some of the biggest classics in country music. McBride's incredible tribute to country music of yesteryear sold a whopping 1 million copies in less than two months. The album's first single was a cover of Lynn Anderson's 1970's hit "Rose Garden." She will promote the album with her 2006 tour, which will kick off in Pennsylvania on January 13, stopping in Cincinnati in March

Lee Ann Womack is seeing plenty of gold these days. Her recently crowned CMA Album of the Year, There's More Where That Came From, was recently certified gold for shipments of half a million copies. The disc includes the reigning CMA Single of the Year, "I May Hate Myself in the Morning," as well as Womack's current single, "Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago."

"Nashville Star" contestant Miranda Lambert had a good year last year as her debut album, titled Kerosene, was released in March and certified gold by year's end. The CD includes her debut single, "Me and Charlie Talkin'," as well as the title track, which just so happens to be Lambert's current single.

Our hats are off to Trace, Martina, Lee Ann and Miranda! Keep the music comin'!

Reba McEntire Heading to Vegas

Red-headed country superstar Reba McEntire has little time for touring these days, thanks in part to the filming schedule of her WB sitcom Reba, but that's not going to prevent her from taking her music to the fans. Well, she's not exactly going to come to the fans this year, they're going to have to come to her. McEntire has signed on to perform three stretches of concerts at the Las Vegas Hilton May 3-7, June 7-18 and July 19-30. She will perform her show titled "Key to the Heart" in Barry Manilow's showroom.

Reba fans better start saving their pennies now if they want to attend one of these shows as they'll not only be out the cost of airfare and hotel, but the ticket prices range from $138 to a staggering $225. At those prices, fans in attendance will definitely be hardcore Reba fans!

Country Nuptials

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood gave each other what they consider "the perfect Christmas gift" when they were married during a private ceremony at their Claremore, Oklahoma home on December 10. The blessed event was much less of a media hype than the very public proposal when Brooks presented Yearwood with an engagement ring before 7,000 fans last May at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California. Brooks reportedly had the blessing of not only his three daughters, but also his ex-wife, Sandy. The first Mrs. Garth Brooks encouraged her former husband to marry Yearwood as she said he deserved to be happy.

"Down Came a Blackbird" and "I Wanna Fall in Love" singer Lila McCann has grown up before our very eyes. When she debuted in the 90's, she was still a high school cheerleader who moonlighted as a country singer. Well, McCann is all grown up now and is even old enough to be married. She wed Mike Wolofsky at Nashville's Hermitage Hotel on November 20. Fans can expect a new album from the newlywed early this year, which will include the song "I'm Amazed," a duet with pianist Jim Brickman (of "Valentine" fame with Martina McBride).

Congratulations to Garth & Trisha and Lila & Mike!

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."