Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Billy Ray Cyrus Hits the Dance Floor

Flatwoods, Kentucky's favorite former mullet-wearing, country singing, "Hannah Montana" daddy, Billy Ray Cyrus has done just about everything in the entertainment industry except for professional dancing. Well, that changed last month as he made his ballroom dancing debut on ABC-Television's wildly popular Dancing With the Stars dancing competition in which celebrities are paired up with professional dancers. Cyrus admits he never even learned the "Achy Breaky" dance back in his day and that all this dancing has resulted in him losing ten pounds. He jumped at the opportunity to participate in the show in honor of his late father, former Kentucky State Representative Ron Cyrus, who was a big fan of the show.

Paired up with last season's runner-up, professional dancer Karina Smirnoff, Cyrus's first dance routine was, shall we say, less than stellar as he attempted what was supposed to be the cha-cha cha to the accompaniment of his very own tune "I Want My Mullet Back." The wardrobe malfunction of nearly ripping his partner's scalp off at the end of the routine as he attempted to strip her of her mullet did not help the couple's record-setting low score of 13 out of a possible 30 points from the three professional judges. One judge referred to Cyrus as a "dancing bear in a swamp." At press time, the first elimination show had not aired, therefore Cyrus and Smirnoff were still in the competition, but the pair will have to work harder to remain alive in the competition.

If fans want to see Billy Ray and Karina continue to dance week after week, they'll have to tune in to DWTS each Mon evening and vote. Fans can also keep up-to-date behind the scenes by reading Billy Ray's blog at billyrayblog.com.

Good luck, Billy Ray and Karina!

Angela Hacker Crowned "Nashville Star"

The USA Network's country version of American Idol, appropriately titled Nashville Star, crowned its latest winner just last month. Twenty-nine-year-old single mother Angela Hacker, who hails from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, beat out her little brother Zac Hacker in the picture-perfect finale. Although Zac walked away as the runner-up, I don't think that's the last country fans will hear from him. As the winner, big sis drove away in a brand-new Chevy pickup truck and landed a Warner Bros. recording contract. Angela's highly anticipated debut album is slated to hit store shelves on April 3.

Congratulations to both Angela and Zac! You've done your parents proud!

Troy Gentry Puts Bear Behind Him

Kentucky's own Troy Gentry, who, along with pal and fellow-Kentucky native Eddie Montgomery, makes up Montgomery Gentry has finally put his bear hunting legal issues behind him. On February 23, he was sentenced to three months of probation and was fined $15,000 for tagging a captive bear as wild after killing it in Duluth, Minnesota back in October 2004. Gentry also forfeited the 600-pound black bear and the bow he used to kill "Cubby" and will not hunt in Minnesota for five years.

Final Nominees for CMT Music Awards

The final nominees for the 2007 CMT Music Awards were recently announced and Rascal Flatts led the pack with three nominations, followed by Kenny Chesney, the Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith, Sugarland, Carrie Underwood and The Wreckers with two nods each. Country's favorite redneck, Jeff Foxworthy, will host this year's awards ceremony to be held at The Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville on April 16. Artists scheduled to perform during the program include Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Sugarland and Carrie Underwood. Fans can catch the program live on Country Music Television.

And the nominees are: Video of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "You Save Me," Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," Toby Keith's "A Little Too Late," Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most," George Strait's "The Seashores of Old Mexico," Sugarland's "Want To," Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and Keith Urban's "Once in a Lifetime"; Female Video of the Year: Sara Evans' "You'll Always Be My Baby," Faith Hill's "Stealing Kisses," Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and Gretchen Wilson's "California Girls"; and Male Video of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "You Save Me," Toby Keith's "A Little Too Late," Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl," and Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me."

Duo Video of the Year: Big & Rich's "8th of November," Brooks & Dunn's "Building Bridges," Sugarland's "Want To," and The Wreckers' "Leave the Pieces"; Group Video of the Year: Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," Little Big Town's "Good as Gone," and Rascal Flatts' "Life Is a Highway" and "What Hurts the Most"; and Breakthrough Video of the Year: Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky," Kellie Pickler's "Red High Heels," Taylor Swift's "Tim McGraw," and The Wreckers' "Leave the Pieces."

Wide Open Country Video of the Year: Jimmy Buffett's "Bama Breeze," Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down," Sheryl Crow & Sting's "Always On Your Side," and Jack Ingram's "Love You"; and Video Director of the Year: Paul Boyd for Gary Allan's "Life Ain't Always Beautiful," Wes Edwards for Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky," Shaun Silva for Kenny Chesney's "You Save Me," and Roman White for Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats."

Good luck to all the nominees!

Strait & Dunn Lead ACM Nominations

When Kenny Chesney and Sugarland announced the nominations for the 42nd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards last month, "The Cowboy" George Strait topped the list of nominees along with Brooks & Dunn's Ronnie Dunn with an amazing eight nods each. In addition to Entertainer of the Year and Top Male Vocalist, Strait will vie for Album of the Year for It Just Comes Natural and Single Record of the Year for "Give It Away," both of these as artist and producer, Song of the Year for "Give It Away," and Video of the Year for "Seashores of Old Mexico." Dunn and partner Kix Brooks earned seven nominations, including Entertainer, Top Vocal Duo, Top Vocal Album for Hillbilly Deluxe and Vocal Event of the Year along with Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow for "Building Bridges" both as artists and producers and Video of the Year for "Hillbilly Deluxe." Dunn's eighth nomination comes in the Vocal Event of the Year category along with Ashley Monroe on "I Don't Want To." Rascal Flatts followed close behind with six nominations, Carrie Underwood and John Rich with five (four of those for Rich as half of Big & Rich) and Vince Gill, Josh Turner and Gretchen Wilson each with three nods.

Reba McEntire will host the awards program on May 15 from Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena. The broadcast will air live on CBS-Television. During the ceremony, Brooks & Dunn will be honored with the Humanitarian Award presented by the ACM and The Home Depot. To honor their extensive charity work, a public playground will be built in the community of their choice.

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and George Strait; Top Female Vocalist: Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood; Top Male Vocalist: Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Keith Urban; Top Vocal Duo: Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland and The Wreckers; and Top Vocal Group: Diamond Rio, Emerson Drive, Little Big Town, Lonestar and Rascal Flatts.

Top New Female Vocalist:Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift; Top New Male Vocalist: Rodney Atkins, Craig Morgan and Chris Young; Top New Duo or Vocal Group: Heartland, Little Big Town and The Wreckers; Album of the Year: Brooks & Dunn's Hillbilly Deluxe, Vince Gill's These Days, Rascal Flatts' Me & My Gang, George Strait's It Just Comes Natural and Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts; and Vocal Event of the Year: Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill & Sheryl Crow's "Building Bridges," Ashley Monroe & Ronnie Dunn's "I Don't Want To," Josh Turner, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Marty Roe, Dana Williams & Gene Johnson's "Me and God," Gretchen Wilson & Merle Haggard's "Politically Uncorrect," and Hank Williams, Jr., Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich & Van Zant's "That's How They Do It In Dixie."

Single Record of the Year:Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," George Strait's "Give It Away," Heartland's "I Loved Her First," Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most," and Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me"; Song of the Year: Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky," Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," George Strait's "Give It Away," Rodney Atkins' "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)," and Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me"; and Video of the Year: Big & Rich's "8th of November," Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky," Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," Brooks & Dunn's "Hillbilly Deluxe," and George Strait's "Seashores of Old Mexico."

Big Changes for Lonestar

Big changes are on the horizon for supergroup Lonestar. Early last month, it was announced that the group had parted ways with its record label, BNA Records, after slow record sales of its latest release, Mountains. Lonestar hit the country music scene in 1995 with "Tequila Talking" and went on to hit the top of the country charts nine times with tunes like "Mr. Mom," "No News," "What About Now," and their signature song, "Amazed." During this tenure, the group sold more than eleven million records.

Just a few weeks after the announcement of being dropped from their recording contract, lead singer Richie McDonald made a surprise announcement that he will be leaving the group at the end of this year to pursue a solo career. If you'll remember back a few months ago, I reported that Josh Gracin filled in as the group's lead singer for a live performance while McDonald was recovering from back surgery. Keyboardist Dean Sams says that it was at that point without McDonald that they realized that "it is the music of Lonestar the fans love. They remain."

Sams, Keech Rainwater and Michael Britt plan to continue the group with a new lead singer. Britt recently said, "Dean, Keech and I feel like we still have a lot of great Lonestar music to make and we are excited about this new opportunity to continue playing for our fans. Richie will be missed and we wish him luck in his future endeavors."

Keep reading in the upcoming months as more details unfold.

Country Baby News

West Virginia native, country crooner and guitarist extraordinaire Brad Paisley has converted his hit "Whiskey Lullaby" to just plain old regular lullabies these days. He and his actress wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley became first-time parents on February 22, when son William Huckleberry Paisley was born at a Nashville hospital. Mother, baby and even Father are doing well.

And while we're on the subject of babies, there's gonna be a Little Big Town baby later this year. Newlywed Kimberly Roads and her husband, real estate executive Stephen Schlapman, were married last November in the Caribbean and are expecting their first child in late summer or early fall.

Congratulations, Brad & Kimberly and Kimberly & Stephen!

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."