Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Dixie Chicks Rule the Grammy Roost

Whether country fans like it or not, the Dixie Chicks ruled the roost at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards last month, taking home an impressive five trophies. In country categories, they earned trophies for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Not Ready to Make Nice" and Best Country Album for Taking the Long Way. "Not Ready to Make Nice" also earned the trio trophies for Record of the Year and Song of the Year for all genres of music, while Taking the Long Way was also named overall Album of the Year among all genres of music.

Hot newcomer Carrie Underwood made quite a splash herself at this year's Grammy's, taking home her first two trophies. "Jesus, Take the Wheel" helped her capture the trophy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance (and was also named Best Country Song for songwriters Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson) and she was also crowned Best New Artist among all genres of music. Not too shabby for a country girl who captured the title of "American Idol" a couple years ago and has gone on to sell over 5 million copies of her debut album, Some Hearts.

Although not present to accept his award, crooner Vince Gill captured the trophy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "The Reason Why." Eighties pop hair-band leader Jon Bon Jovi captured the Best Country Collaboration with Vocals award along with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles for "Who Says You Can't Go Home." Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album went to Randy Travis' Glory Train; Best Bluegrass Album was Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder's Instrumentals; and Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media went to Walk the Line, the biopic of the legendary Johnny Cash's life and career. And the Best Country Instrumental Performance was Bryan Sutton & Doc Watson's "Whiskey Before Breakfast."

Congratulations to all the winners!

Vote Now for CMT Music Awards

When it comes to entertainment awards shows, typically members of an academy, music executives and fellow musicians decide the winners through their votes. Well, none other than the fans themselves decides the CMT Music Awards. Come April 16, the fans' favorite country music videos and video artists will be awarded at the 2007 CMT Music Awards show to be held at The Curb Event Center at Nashville's Belmont University. Returning host and redneck-extraordinaire Jeff Foxworthy will help announce the winners in ten video categories, including Video of the Year, for which the nominees will be announced during the beginning of the live broadcast on Country Music Television and voted on by the fans throughout the show. In addition, the Johnny Cash Visionary Award will be presented to "recognize an artist's extraordinary musical vision, innovative and groundbreaking music videos and pioneering initiatives in entertainment."

In order to vote for your favorite videos and video artists, simply log on to CMT.com. And the first-round 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," Reba McEntire's "Love Needs a Holiday," LeAnn Rimes' "Some People," Taylor Swift's "Tim McGraw," Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," Gretchen Wilson's "California Girls," and Lee Ann Womack's "Finding My Way Back Home"; and Male Video of the Year: Dierks Bentley's "Long Trip Alone," Kenny Chesney's "You Save Me," Alan Jackson's "Like Red On a Rose," Toby Keith's "A Little Too Late," Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl," George Strait's "The Seashores of Old Mexico," Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me," and Keith Urban's "Once In a Lifetime."

Duo Video of the Year: Big & Rich's "8th of November," Brooks & Dunn's "Building Bridges" and "Hillbilly Deluxe," Montgomery Gentry's "Some People Change," Sugarland's "Settlin'" and "Want To," Van Zant's "Things I Miss the Most," and The Wreckers' "Leave the Pieces" ; Group Video of the Year: Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," Emerson Drive's "Moments," Alison Krauss & Union Station's "If I Didn't Know Any Better," Little Big Town's "Good as Gone," Lonestar's "Mountains," Rascal Flatts' "Life Is a Highway" and "What Hurts the Most," and SHeDAISY's "In Terms of Love"; and Breakthrough Video of the Year: Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky," Danielle Peck's "Findin' a Good Man," Ashley Monroe's "I Don't Want To," Jake Owen's "Yee Haw," Kellie Pickler's "Red High Heels," Taylor Swift's "Tim McGraw," The Wreckers' "Leave the Pieces," and Chris Young's "Drinkin' Me Lonely."

Wide Open 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," Pat Green's "Dixie Lullaby," Jack Ingram's "Love You," Shooter Jennings' "Gone to Carolina," Alison Krauss & Union Station's "If I Didn't Know Any Better," and Willie Nelson's "You Don't Know Me"; 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," David McClister for LeAnn Rimes' "Some People," Charles Mehling for Dierks Bentley's "Long Trip Alone," Sophie Muller for Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice" and Faith Hill's "Stealing Kisses," 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! Remember, log on the CMT.com to vote for your favorites.

McGraw News

There is all kinds of news in the McGraw household as of late. Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill recently announced that they will resume their insanely popular "Soul2Soul II Tour" this summer. This was the biggest draw on the country music concert circuit last year (and the biggest-selling country tour of all time) and the fifth highest grossing concert tour of all genres of music last year raking in a whopping $88.8 million. Pollstar recently named this tour the "Major Tour of 2006," beating out Madonna, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones and Roger Waters. The magic the couple creates on and off the stage still drives the fans crazy.

Fans of Mr. McGraw will be glad to know that his new CD will hit stores later this month, on March 27. Titled Let It Go, this album includes McGraw's current single, "Last Dollar (Fly Away)," which includes guest vocals by his daughters (who can even be seen in the song's video). Also included are two duets with Faith. If you purchase the album at Wal-Mart, you will receive a free bonus DVD including the videos for "Angel Boy," "Cowboy in Me," "Down on the Farm," "Real Good Man," and "When the Stars Go Blue," as well as a special performance of "Louisiana."

In other news, the McGraws' second home, located in Hollywood, Ca. was burglarized sometime during the weekend of the Grammy Awards last month. The McGraws were not in Hollywood at the time and an employee discovered the break-in the following Monday morning. Police have reported that an unspecified amount of money was stolen in the incident.

Kenny Chesney Says, "I'm Not Gay"

"Well, is he gay or is he not gay" has been the big question surrounding Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney for quite some time now. And to make things worse, his marriage annulment from actress Renee Zellweger (after a mere five-month union) last year stating "fraud" as the reason did not help the controversy. Soon after filing for the annulment, the soon-to-be former Mrs. Chesney issued a press release urging fans that the term "fraud" was merely a legal term and "not a reflection of Kenny's character." Regardless of what Chesney and Zellweger have said, some whole-heartedly believe the rumor and have even been as far-fetched to link Chesney romantically with divorced NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

Chesney addressed this burning issue last month on CBS-Television's 60 Minutes news program. In the interview, he told host Anderson Cooper, "It's not true. Period. Maybe I should have come out and said, 'No, I'm not [gay],' but I didn't want to draw any more attention to it...I didn't have to prove to anybody that I wasn't. I didn't feel like I really did." He went on to say, "The only fraud that was committed was me thinking that I knew what it was like-that I really understood what it was like to be married and I really didn't. We thought the least harmful [stated reason] was fraud because it [is] kind of broad and boy, we were wrong."

Regardless of his sexual preference, Chesney continues to perform live for sell-out crowds across the country, which will even include a handful of NFL stadiums this year. And to help clear up the whole annulment thing, Chesney and Zellweger reportedly remain good friends and have even been spotted having dinner from time to time. Chesney went on to say, "Even though I'd sit here and say I wish we'd gotten divorced instead of all that annulment stuff and saved me a lot of public humiliation, I still don't have any regrets. I loved her, you know. And it was real."

Opry Responds to Stonewall Jackson's Lawsuit

As I reported last month, seventy-four-year-old Grand Ole Opry member Stonewall Jackson filed a $10 million age discrimination lawsuit against the Opry claiming his number of appearances has been greatly reduced since Opry manager Pete Fisher was hired back in 1998. Gaylord Entertainment, which owns the Grand Ole Opry, filed a legal response to Jackson's lawsuit last month, stating his claims are without merit and should be dismissed. The document also states, "Just as Jackson is free to accept or decline offers from the Opry to perform, the Opry is free to determine the best mix of performers for any given show.

Keep reading in upcoming months as I'll report on the developments in this case.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E, Country Style

It seems that Tammy Wynette's classic "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" is the soundtrack to many a country artists these days. "Better Things to Do" singer Terri Clark filed for divorce from her tour manager husband, Greg Kaczor just two days after Valentine's Day. The couple has worked together for more than a decade and as a result of the divorce, Kaczor has resigned as Clark's tour manager. In a statement Clark said, "This is very sad. Greg is one of my dearest friends and a wonderful person and we are sorry that we're here. This is an amicable split and we appreciate everyone's concern and respect for our sorting this out. No big drama ... just a couple heavy hearts. Anyone who's ever been here, I am sure, understands."

"Bocephus" himself, Hank Williams, Jr., is headed to divorce court once again, announcing last month that he and fourth wife Mary Jane, a former model, are calling it quits. In a statement, Williams said, "Today is one of the toughest days in my life. All families experience difficulties; I hope everyone will respect our privacy during this time." The couple was married 16 years and have two teenage children together.

Country crooner Bucky Covington, who was a finalist on last year's American Idol, seems to be suffering from the seven-year-itch, as he and his wife Crystal have decided to separate. The couple has been married for seven years and have no children. Covington says, "This is a difficult time for both of us and I would ask that everyone respect our privacy." Although his personal life might not be the greatest at this time, his professional career is just beginning to take off. Covington recently signed a record deal with Lyric Street Records and his debut album is scheduled to be released next month. In the meantime, his debut single, "A Different World," is currently climbing the country charts.

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