Luttrell, Tennessee native Kenny Chesney walked into the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards last month with a whopping eight nominations, but he went home with just one solo trophy - his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award. This was the first year the top honor was voted on by the fans and Chesney said, "This one is really extra special because long before I had a hit record, the fans always came to the show. I want to thank you guys for voting and for being there for me." In addition to Entertainer of the Year, Chesney captured the Vocal Event of the Year trophy along with Tracy Lawrence and Tim McGraw for Lawrence's "Find Out Who Your Friends Are."
Brad Paisley trailed Chesney with four nominations, walking home with two awards - Top Male Vocalist and Video of the Year for "Online." Sugarland's "Stay" also captured two trophies - Song of the Year and Single Record of the Year. Carrie Underwood held onto the title of Top Female Vocalist, while Brooks & Dunn were once again named Top Vocal Duo and Rascal Flatts was named Top Vocal Group. The big surprise of the evening was the Album of the Year, which went to Miranda Lambert's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
During the awards ceremony, entertainer extraordinaire Garth Brooks received the Crystal Milestone Award in honor of his sales of more than 128 million albums. Rascal Flatts earned the ACM/Home Depot Humanitarian Award.
And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Kenny Chesney; Top Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood; Top Male Vocalist: Brad Paisley; Top Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn; Top Vocal Group: Rascal Flatts; Top New Female Vocalist: Taylor Swift; Top New Male Vocalist: Jack Ingram; and Top New Duo or Vocal Group: Lady Antebellum.
Album of the Year: Miranda Lambert's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Song of the Year: Sugarland's "Stay"; Single Record of the Year: Sugarland's "Stay"; Vocal Event of the Year: Tracy Lawrence, Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney's "Find Out Who Your Friends Are"; and Video of the Year: Brad Paisley's "Online."
Academy of Country Music Crystal Milestone Award: Garth Brooks; and The ACM/The Home Depot Humanitarian Award: Rascal Flatts.
Top Bass Player of the Year: Michael Rhodes; Top Percussionist/Drummer of the Year: Shannon Forrest; Top Fiddle Player of the Year: Stuart Duncan; Top Guitarist of the Year: Dann Huff; Top Piano/Keyboards Player of the Year: Matt Rollings; Top Specialty Instrument Player of the Year: Jerry Douglas; and Top Steel Guitar Player of the Year: Paul Franklin.
Congratulations to all the winners!
"Any Man of Mine" crooner Shania Twain and her husband, producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, are reportedly separating after 14 years of marriage. The two met at Fan Fair in 1993 following the release of Twain's debut album. The pair married on December 28 of that same year and began work on what would become Twain's 12X-platinum sophomore album, The Woman In Me. The couple co-wrote all of Twain's hits for Mercury Nashville from 1995 and 2005 with the exception of "You Win My Love," which Lange wrote by himself. Prior to producing Twain, Lange gained great success producing rock groups AC/DC, Def Leppard and Foreigner. Twain and Lange were obviously a winning team professionally as their joint efforts have sold nearly 50 million records, making Twain one of the all-time top-selling female country artists.
Twain and Lange have one son, seven-year-old Eja. They have asked for privacy during this very difficult time.
"The Country Gentleman," the legendary Eddy Arnold, passed away one week shy of his 90th birthday on May 8. Arnold's hugely successful country music career was kick-started when he joined Pee Wee King's band right here in Derby City. As a solo artist, Arnold went on to be Billboard Magazine's #1 country artist of all times, earning 92 Top 10 hits, including "Cattle Call," "Anytime," and "Make the World Go Away." His career spanned seven decades when his "To Life," which appeared on his final album released in 2005, charted following his passing. Arnold's wife of 66 years, Sally, passed away in March while he was recovering from hip replacement surgery. Family and friends predicted he wouldn't live long following the passing of his soulmate. He is survived by his daughter, JoAnn Pollard, son Richard Edward Arnold, Jr. and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Jim Hager, who made up the duo The Hager Twins with his twin brother Jon, died May 1 in Nashville of an apparent heart attack. The Hagers were adopted by a preacher and his wife, raised in a Chicago suburb and were discovered by Buck Owens while performing at Disneyland following a stint in the U.S. Army. The pair became household names when Owens featured them on the premier episode of "Hee Haw" in 1969, remaining staples on the classic country music comedy variety program until 1988. Sixty-six-year-old Jim collapsed in the parking lot of a Nashville coffee shop following a visit with his twin brother to discuss an upcoming trip to Florida to visit their step-mother. He was pronounced dead at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Country singer Jerry "Mr. Smooth" Wallace died May 5 from congestive heart failure in Corona, California. The 79-year-old singer hit the top of the country charts back in 1972 with "If You Leave Me Tonight I'll Cry." He first enjoyed success on the charts as a pop singer in the 1950s and 1960s with songs like "In the Misty Moonlight" and "Primrose Lane" before signing to Mercury Records as a country singer in 1965.
Sixty-year-old singer/songwriter Paul Davis died of a heart attack on April 22 in his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi. Davis topped the country charts in 1986 with a duet with Marie Osmond, "You're Still New to Me," a tune he co-wrote with Paul Overstreet. Davis once again hooked up with Overstreet the following year to top the charts along with Tanya Tucker on "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love."
"Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)" singer and Nicholasville, Kentucky native John Michael Montgomery voluntarily checked into a rehab center for substance abuse last month. In a statement released by his management company on May 9, it was stated that Montgomery's substance abuse stemmed from severe anxiety attacks and a sleep disorder. He was pulled over and arrested in 2006 on alcohol, drugs and weapons charges and eventually entered an Alford plea due to the overwhelming evidence to convict him in the DUI charge.
Montgomery told his fans in his recent statement, "I will be disappearing for a while to try and defeat the demons that have stripped me of my energy of life and good health for so many years now. I assure you that however long it may take, I'm gonna fight to the end and come out stronger." He canceled all concerts, including a show in Louisville, and all personal appearances for 30 days. Montgomery currently has a new single on radio airwaves, "If You Ever Went Away," which is scheduled to be included on a new album to be released on his own record label in September
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, John Michael, as well as your family, during this difficult time.
Country-folk songstress Emmylou Harris and the late Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman were officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on April 27 during a medallion ceremony held in the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. During the ceremony, Stoneman's daughters, Donna, Patsy and Roni, performed their father's "The Titanic." Stoneman was further remembered by performances by Cowboy Jack Clement, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jim Lauderdale and the Jordanaires. Classic Harris songs were performed by Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Jon Randall, Guy Clark and Lucinda Williams. The 2008 class of inductees will be rounded out by Olive Hill, Kentucky's own Tom T. Hall and the Statler Brothers when they are officially inducted on June 29.
The legendary Kitty Wells received a huge honor last month when it was announced that her classic "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" has been added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress to recognize it as a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" recording. Wells recorded the song on May 30, 1952, answering Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life." The song topped the charts for an amazing six weeks, remaining Wells' signature tune.
Country sweetheart and American Idol Season 5 winner Carrie Underwood, who hails from Checotah, Oklahoma, became a member of the legendary Grand Ole Opry last month. She was officially inducted into the Opry by fellow Oklahoman Garth Brooks. Brooks shared some words of wisdom with the "All American Girl" while standing on the hallowed stage, stating, "Nothing will last as long or be more important than this award right here tonight."
The "Redneck Woman" herself, Gretchen Wilson, dropped out of school in the ninth grade, but she didn't want her daughter to think that it's possible to be successful in life without a high school diploma, so she decided to go back to school. Wilson passed her GED test back in April and received her certificate during a ceremony held at First Baptist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee last month. Ironically enough, the "graduating" class was addressed by Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Daniels, who just so happened to be mentioned in Wilson's debut signature song. During his address, he stated, "Gretchen Wilson, I am so proud of you." Congratulations, Gretchen!
Howard Stern recently learned that you don't mess with a country girl. Stern took snippets of country superstar Dolly Parton's audio recording of her autobiography and edited it and electronically manipulated it for a racist and sexually explicit comedy bit on the "shock jock's" satellite radio program. The "joke" included extremely offensive references to Parton duet partners Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt and Burt Reynolds, as well as the late talk show host Johnny Carson. In a written statement, Parton said, "I have never been so shocked, hurt and humiliated in all my life. I cannot believe what Howard Stern has done to me. In a blue million years, I would never have such vulgar things come out of my mouth. They have done editing or some sort of trickery to make this horrible, horrible thing. Please accept my apology for them and certainly know I had nothing to do with this. If there was ever going to be a lawsuit, it's going to be over this. Just wanted you to know that I am completely devastated by this."
Hot off the press: Dierks Bentley's gonna be a papa! Bentley and wife Cassidy just announced that they are expecting their first child this fall, just prior to their third wedding anniversary. Bentley broke the news of his impending fatherhood on his fan club website May 19 while vacationing in Mexico. Congratulations, Dierks and Cassidy!
Well, that's it for yet another month. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."