Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Taylor Swift Dominates CMA Awards

Although co-host Brad Paisley walked into the 43rd Annual Country Music Association Awards last month with a whopping seven nominations, 19-year-old Taylor Swift was the big winner of the evening. Swift swept all four categories in which she was nominated, including Album of the Year for Fearless, Video of the Year for "Love Story," Female Vocalist of the Year, and the coveted Entertainer of the Year. Swift made history as the youngest recipient of the Entertainer of the Year trophy, and only the seventh female to capture that honor. She broke Kenny Chesney's four-year run at the top of the helm.

The awards ceremony had a nostalgic, classic feel and was full of surprises. In addition to Paisley and co-host Carrie Underwood's brilliant parody songs and several performances of country and rock melding together (Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews, Daughtry and Vince Gill, Brooks & Dunn and ZZ Top, and Jamey Johnson and Kid Rock), many long-time reigning award recipients were dethroned. Since Brooks & Dunn recently announced 2010 will be their final year together as a duo, many assumed they would be named Vocal Duo of the Year, but Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush nabbed the honor for the third time. Rascal Flatts has been named Vocal Group of the Year for six years, but Lady Antebellum had a banner year and dethroned the trio for the title. Darius Rucker, who has been known in the music community as the front-man for pop group Hootie & the Blowfish for a number of years, decided to try his hand at country music last year, took country radio by storm, and was named New Artist of the Year.

Paisley walked home with two trophies, Male Vocalist of the Year and Musical Event of the Year along with Keith Urban for "Start a Band." In addition to Vocal Group, Lady A took home the "Single of the Year" trophy for "I Run to You." Jamey Johnson's "In Color" was named Song of the Year. Three-time Female Vocalist of the Year Carrie Underwood went home empty-handed.

And the winners are: Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift; Female Vocalist of the Year: Taylor Swift; Male Vocalist of the Year: Brad Paisley; Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland; and Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum.

New Artist of the Year: Darius Rucker; Album of the Year: Taylor Swift's Fearless; Single of the Year: Lady Antebellum's "I Run to You"; and Song of the Year: Jamey Johnson's "In Color."

Music Video of the Year: Taylor Swift's "Love Story"; Musical Event of the Year: Brad Paisley & Keith Urban's "Start a Band; and Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally (guitar).

In addition to the traditional CMA awards, during rehearsals for this year's awards program, Brooks & Dunn presented Swift with the Country Music Association's International Artist Achievement Award. Swift joins an elite list of past recipients, including B&D, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and Keith Urban. This honor is awarded for "outstanding U.S.-based artists who contribute the awareness and development of country music throughout the world." Swift's latest album, Fearless, has been certified gold and platinum in 14 countries across five continents.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Are The Judds Reuniting?

When a mother-daughter duo from Ashland, Kentucky hit the radio airwaves 25 years ago, no one realized the impact the two would have on the music industry. That's right, mother Naomi and daughter Wynonna Judd, better known as The Judds, were named the Academy of Country Music Top Vocal Duo and they received the Country Music Association Horizon Award back in 1984. These Kentucky gals were on top of the world until Naomi was forced to retire from the music industry in 1991 due to her suffering from hepatitis C. Fans have longed to see The Judds reunite for many years, and have gotten a few special reunions scattered throughout the years, but 2010 could bring many wishes to fruition.

Wynonna recently told Billboard magazine that she and her mother are considering any and everything for next year. She said, "We are ‘in talks,' so there's nothing that's been defined yet. I just felt it in my spirit. A couple weeks ago I said, ‘It's 2010. It's been 25 years. It's take your mother to work year. It just feels like it's the right time; she'll be 64 in January, and I think it's time — not the whole year, but it's going to be a way to celebrate her."

As stated, no plans have been finalized, but the famous duo is considering performing some live concerts, recording some new music, and Wynonna is already considering taking Mama on her 2010 "A Classic Christmas Tour."

Stay tuned in the coming months as exciting reunion details unfold.

Tim McGraw Hits the Big Screen Once Again

Tim McGraw, The "Indian Outlaw," has starred in a few movies in his career, but his latest acting gig is like none other. McGraw stars opposite Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, an inspirational movie based on Michael Lewis' best-selling novel The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game. McGraw and Bullock play a real-life wealthy couple, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who take in a homeless African-American teenager named Michael Oher. This true story chronicles Oher overcoming the odds and eventually landing the position of offensive tackle for the University of Mississippi's football team. Oher is currently one of the top picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

Although the movie has gotten very favorable reviews, as well as McGraw's individual performance, McGraw is not going to abandon his singing career for a full-time acting career as he says nothing compares to being on-stage performing live for the fans. Fans can hear new McGraw music with the recent release of his long-awaited new album, Southern Voice, from which he sang the title track on the CMA's last month.

Celebrate Christmas Country Style

If you're a country music fan who thrives on the Christmas holiday, well, you're in luck, as there's lots of entertainment for you, whether you'd rather stay home with a big bowl of popcorn around the Christmas tree and fireplace, go see a live concert or even if you;re up for a road trip. Country stars like to celebrate the holidays in style and there's plenty celebration you won't want to miss. Carrie Underwood will host her very own Christmas television special on December 7. "Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special" will air on FOX-Television and will feature Underwood performing past hits, new material from her recently released CD Play On, as well as classic holiday tunes. Joining Underwood for this two-hour holiday variety show will be international superstar Dolly Parton, Underwood's CMA co-host, Brad Paisley, and fellow American Idol winner David Cook.

Wynonna fans can spend a night out on the town listening to their favorite soulful country crooner belting out holiday favorites, when her "A Classic Christmas Tour" stops at Horseshoe Casino Southern Indiana on December 10. Wynonna will perform hits from her 25-year career as well as numbers from her spectacular 2006 CD A Classic Christmas.

If you're up for a road trip, then Tennessee is bursting with opportunities. Nashville's Gaylord Opryland is once again home to "A Country Christmas," complete with "Louise Mandrell's ‘Joy to the World' Christmas Dinner & Show," the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular," and an extensive ice sculpture display titled "ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas." Opryland's Christmas festival, which also includes a Christmas fountain show and nearly 2 million Christmas lights, will run through January 2. Dolly Parton's Pigeon Forge theme-park, Dollywood, is all aglow this season as it celebrates its "Smoky Mountain Christmas" festival. Park visitors will enjoy Appalachian holiday tunes, Broadway-style Christmas shows, a "Parade of Lights," a "Carol of the Trees" with holiday lights choreographed to music, the must-see "The Polar Express 4-D Experience," and much more, including 4 million lights highlighting the beauty of the great Smoky Mountains. "Smoky Mountain Christmas" runs through January 2.

Latest Round of Music City Walk of Fame Inductees

The latest round of inductees into the Music City Walk of Fame in downtown Nashville reads like a Who's Who list in the music industry. Charlie Daniels; Kid Rock; Dolly Parton; the late Tootsie Bess (owner of famed country nightspot Tootsie's Orchid Lounge) and Ernest Tubb were officially inducted on November 8. Butch Spyridon, President of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau recently said "We are pleased to honor the amazing accomplishments of this class of inductees." Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar said, "Gibson Guitar is a proud sponsor of the Music City Walk of Fame, which continues to celebrate the vast wealth of talent that originates in Nashville. This class of inductees is no exception - all these exceptional artists have helped solidify Nashville's place in music history."

Each of these recipients or a surviving family member was on-hand during the unveiling of the stainless steel and terrazzo sidewalk medallion bearing his/her name in a star-and-guitar design. The medallions are located in the sidewalk along the Music Mile in the Hall of Fame Park on Demonbreun Street between 4th and 5th Avenues South in downtown Nashville, across from the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

Congratulations to these well-deserving recipients.

Strait & McEntire Touring Together in 2010

Country music heavy-hitters George Strait and Reba McEntire have been friends for many years and something really sparked when they performed together in June at the opening of the brand new home of the Dallas Cowboys' football team in Arlington, Texas. As McEntire was recently making rounds on morning television talk shows to promote her latest album, Keep On Loving You, the fiery red-head let the cat out of the bag that she and Strait will tour together next year during her appearance on Live with Regis & Kelly. The dynamic duo will begin the highly-anticipated 19-city tour in Baltimore, Maryland on January 22, and will wrap the tour in Des Moines, Iowa on April 10. Unfortunately for Louisville fans, the closest tour stop will be Knoxville, Tennessee on January 29 or St. Louis, Missouri on February 18. McEntire and Strait are equally excited to hit the road together and bring the fans decades worth of hits.

The complete tour itinerary is: 1/22 Baltimore, 1/23 Greensboro, N.C., 1/29 Knoxville, TN, 1/30 Charlottesville, VA, 2/5 Phoenix, AZ, 2/6 Las Vegas, NV, 2/18 St. Louis, 2/19 Wichita, KS, 2/20 Tulsa, 2/25 Atlanta, 2/26 Orlando, 3/4 Memphis, TN, 3/5 New Orleans, 3/6 Little Rock, 3/26 Portland, OR, 3/27 Tacoma, WA, 4/8 Omaha, NE, 4/9 Kansas City, MO, and 4/10 Des Moines.

Well, that's it for another month, and another year! Thanks for riding this "Cowboy Corner" journey with me yet another year. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family the happiest of holidays and I urge you, if you are in a position to help the less fortunate out this holiday season, please do so! Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin' your way."