Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Paisley & Strait Dominate CMA Nominees

When the list of nominees for the 41st Annual Country Music Association Awards was announced recently, the two most popular names were Brad Paisley and George Strait, each receiving five nods. The pair will both vie for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year (Paisley's "Ticks" and Strait's "Wrapped") and Album of the Year (Paisley's 5th Gear and Strait's It Just Comes Natural). In addition, Paisley's "Online" will compete for Music Video of the Year and Strait is nominated for Musical Event of the Year along with Jimmy Buffett and Alan Jackson for their live version of "Hey Good Lookin'." Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon and Jamey Johnson, who wrote Strait's "Give It Away," will vie for Song of the Year.

Following closely behind Paisley and Strait with four nods each were Kenny Chesney, Alison Krauss and Martina McBride. John Rich of Big & Rich, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban each received three nominations. Nominations of particular interest include Miranda Lambert's nod for Female Vocalist, Josh Turner's nomination for Male Vocalist, Reba McEntire's return to the list of nominees for Female Vocalist and Musical Event for "Because of You" with the original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, Vince Gill's return with nominations for Album of the Year for These Days and Musical Event along with Alison Krauss for "The Reason Why," and Dierks Bentley's Album of the Year nod for Long Trip Alone.

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, George Strait and Keith Urban; Female Vocalist of the Year: Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Josh Turner and Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland and The Wreckers; and Vocal Group of the Year: Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Dixie Chicks, Emerson Drive, Little Big Town and Rascal Flatts.

Horizon Award: Jason Aldean, Rodney Atkins, Little Big Town, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift; Single of the Year: Big & Rich's "Lost in This Moment," Martina McBride's "Anyway," Brad Paisley's "Ticks," George Strait's "Wrapped," and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats"; Song of the Year: Big & Rich's "Lost in This Moment," Martina McBride's "Anyway," George Strait's "Give It Away," Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and Keith Urban's "Stupid Boy"; and Album of the Year: Dierks Bentley's Long Trip Alone, Vince Gill's These Days, Brad Paisley's 5th Gear, George Strait's It Just Comes Natural and Keith Urban's Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing.

Music Video of the Year: Kenny Chesney's "You Save Me," Emerson Drive's "Moments," Martina McBride's "Anyway," Brad Paisley's "Online," and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats"; Musical Event of the Year: Jimmy Buffett, George Strait & Alan Jackson's "Hey Good Lookin'" Live, Vince Gill & Alison Krauss' "The Reason Why," Alison Krauss & John Waite's "Missing You," Tracy Lawrence, Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney's "Find Out Who Your Friends Are," and Reba McEntire & Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You"; and Musician of the Year: Eddie Bayers, Jr. (drums), Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Dann Huff (guitar), Mac McAnally (guitar) and Randy Scruggs (guitar).

This year's CMA Awards ceremony will be held November 7 at downtown Nashville's Sommet Center and will be broadcast live on ABC Television. At press time, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, George Strait and Keith Urban were already scheduled to perform on the awards program.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Carrie Underwood's Long-Awaited Follow-Up

Country sweetheart and Checotah, Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood captured the hearts of America when she was crowned the American Idol in the spring of 2005. In November of that same year, Underwood released her debut country album, Some Hearts. Since then, just about every major music award possible has been bestowed upon the songstress, she has become a regular at the top of the country music charts and her debut disc has sold more than 6 million copies. Fans have been waiting for quite some time now for the follow-up to Some Hearts and the wait is almost over. Underwood's sophomore disc, titled Carnival Ride, hits stores on October 23. This time around, Underwood tried her hand at songwriting, including the smash first single from the album, "So Small," which she co-wrote with Luke Laird and Hillary Lindsey. While awaiting the release of the entire album, fans can download the "So Small" single, as well as the video directed by Roman White, from iTunes.

Upcoming Country Honors

Country music's red-headed queen Reba McEntire is back with a vengeance with her smash duet with Kelly Clarkson, "Because of You" and the release of her brand new, critically acclaimed Duets CD which also includes pairings with the likes of Don Henley, LeAnn Rimes, Ronnie Dunn, Vince Gill and Justin Timberlake. Riding high with two CMA nominations for next month's awards ceremony, it was recently announced that she will be honored by Billboard Magazine this month. McEntire will receive the inaugural "Woman of the Year" Award from Billboard during an awards breakfast in New York City on October 5. The ceremony will also honor 20 top female executives in the music industry, who will be featured in the magazine's upcoming "Women in Music" issue. The "Woman of the Year" Award "recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the music business and who inspire other women to assume greater responsibilities within the industry."

"The Gambler" himself, Kenny Rogers, will receive the ASCAP Golden Note Award from the ASCAP performance rights organization on October 15. This honor is presented to "songwriters, composers and artists from all genres [of music] who have achieved extraordinary career milestones." In addition to Rogers' honor, the ceremony, which will be held at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium, will also honor the songwriters and publishers of ASCAP's most performed country songs of the year in addition to awards for Songwriter of the Year, Songwriter-Artist of the Year, Publisher of the Year and Song of the Year.

Congratulations, Reba and Kenny! Honors well deserved!

Lonestar Names New Lead

As you might remember from previous columns, Lonestar lead singer Richie McDonald announced earlier this year that he will be leaving the group by the end of the year to pursue a solo career. Lonestar has chosen a singer by the name of Cody Collins from the Woodstock, Georgia area to replace McDonald as lead. This new incarnation of the group recently recorded a holiday album, My Christmas List, which will be sold exclusively at Cracker Barrel restaurants. Cracker Barrel will begin selling this CD next month and will sponsor the group's Christmas tour.

Best wishes to the brand new Lonestar and to Richie on his new solo career. Let's hope the new Lonestar will maintain the great success they have enjoyed throughout the years and that McDonald is as successful as former Lonestar member John Rich who hooked up with Kenny Alpine to form Big & Rich.

Mindy McCready Heads to the Slammer

Upon returning to Nashville back in July after being arrested in Florida for a domestic dispute with her mother, "Guys Do It All the Time" singer Mindy McCready was arrested at the airport for violating her probation from previous drug charges. The 31-year-old appeared in court again last month and the circuit judge sentenced her to one year in jail and 200 hours of community service upon her release from the Williamson County jail in Franklin, Tennessee. She will receive a 75-day credit for time she has already served.

During the court hearing last month, McCready requested a lesser sentence to no avail. She asked the judge, "Please give me a chance to make things as right as they can possibly be." While in jail, McCready's toddler is reportedly being cared for by his grandmother in Fort Myers, Florida.

Randy Owen Recording Solo

John Rich of Big & Rich is one of the busiest singers/songwriters/producers in Nashville these days. His latest artist to produce is no stranger to the recording studio, but he is a brand new solo artist. Alabama lead singer and co-founder Randy Owen has enlisted the help of Rich to produce his debut solo album. Owen recently performed several solo concerts before deciding he was comfortable in making a solo album without his former bandmates. Following the successful concert dates, Owen has been writing with some of Rich's fellow Muzik Mafia songwriters, James Otto and Shannon Lawson. No release date or record label has been announced for this anticipated CD but Owen has already said that he expects to go on tour to promote the album upon its release.

Wedding Bells & Baby Booties

"Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" singer Joe Nichols took the plunge last month and married Heather Singleton, whom he has known since he was 18-years-old and whom he claims he fell in love with upon first sight. The happy couple exchanged vows during a traditional, candlelit ceremony at Whitfield Chapel in Savannah, Georgia on September 9. Nichols claims he has never been happier. And if his new marriage weren't enough to celebrate, his 2002 album Man With a Memory was just certified platinum for selling over one million copies.

If you'll remember, Jason Aldean turned in an impressive performance as he opened the Kentucky State Fair along with Rascal Flatts on Thursday, August 17. Well, just a few days later, on August 20, Aldean was back in Nashville to witness the birth of his second child. He and wife Jessica welcomed their second daughter, 6 lb., 11 oz. Kendyl into the world. Mother and baby are doing fine but Aldean himself might not be so fine. He says, "I've got three girls at home now. I'm sure they'll be ganging up on me in no time!" Aldean couldn't let diaper duty keep him down long, as he was back on the road August 23 playing a date with Rascal Flatts in Atlantic City, NJ.

Congratulations to Joe and Heather on their marriage and Jason and Jessica on the birth of their new bundle of joy!

Well, that's it for this month and for another year of "Cowboy Corner." This issue celebrates the 14th anniversary of "Cowboy Corner," which made its debut in LMN back in October 1993. Thanks for reading all these years and I hope you keep reading for many years to come. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."