Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Mayfield's Chicken Catcher Country Crooner Skinner Crowned AGT Winner

When 35-year-old Mayfield, Kentucky native Kevin Skinner first walked onto the stage of NBC-Television's America's Got Talent a few months ago, the down-home country boy was nearly laughed off the stage when he drawled that he is a former chicken catcher who loves performing country music. Wearing his cap backwards while strumming his guitar, the audience and AGT judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and David Hasselhoff were taken aback by the deep emotion and genuineness of his raw vocals as he sang Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes." He immediately became the favorite to win the fourth season of the show. His national fan base grew rapidly during the following weeks and earned him the top prize of $1 million and a headlining show in Las Vegas.

Following the announcement Skinner said "I feel so good right now. I'm ready to perform. I just love to perform." Skinner promised to help his family with his winnings and to give back to charities like Memphis, Tennessee's St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Skinner will headline the 10-week America's Got Talent Live show at Las Vegas' Planet Hollywood Resorts & Casino's CHI Showroom, beginning October 7. Hosted by Jerry Springer, the show will run Wednesday Sunday nights.

My hat's off to ya, Kevin! It's good to see that the good guy CAN, and did, win. Congratulations!

Taylor Swift's VMA Win Overshadowed by Kanye West

Taylor Swift made history when she received the Moon Man trophy for Best Female Video for "You Belong With Me" at last month's MTV Video Music Awards. Swift was the first country artist to ever win a VMA. The real history during her acceptance speech, , when singer Kanye West came onstage, grabbed the microphone from Swift and rained on her parade. She gracefully stood on stage in shock as West interrupted, saying, "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you. I'll let you finish, but Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!," referring to "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." Beyonce looked mortified and equally in shock. Following his rant, he returned the mic to Swift but producers had killed it, thus leaving Swift unable to thank her fans before being escorted backstage.

Following West's disruptive outburst, the backlash from fans and fellow artists, as well as President Obama, immediately kicked into high gear. Later in the awards ceremony, when Beyonce received the Video of the Year award, she called Swift onstage, offering her the chance to enjoy the moment and properly thank her fans.

The outpouring of disgust toward West snowballed in the days following the VMAs. West did the right thing and personally called her following her View appearance. Respectfully, Swift accepted his apology and will not divulge any further details of the phone conversation.

Taylor, congratulations and thanks for keeping country music classy! You've made the country music industry and its fans quite proud!

Brad Paisley Dominates CMA Nominations

When the nominees for the 43rd Annual Country Music Association Awards were announced last month, Brad Paisley ruled the roost with a seven nominations. Paisley will vie for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Single and Song of the Year for "Then," Album of the Year for American Saturday Night, and Musical Event and Music Video of the Year along with Keith Urban for their duet "Start a Band." Urban followed in his duet partner's footsteps with five nominations, followed by Jamey Johnson, George Strait, Taylor Swift, and Zac Brown with four nods each. Among the list of nominations were several firsts. Swift received her first nod for Entertainer of the Year. On the same day, Zac Brown and his wife Shelly welcomed their third child, daughter Georgia Sloan Brown, The Zac Brown Band received its first four nominations: New Artist of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, and Song and Single of the Year for "Chicken Fried." Darius Rucker received his first CMA nominations for New Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. Randy Houser earned his first two nods for New Artist of the Year and Music Video of the Year for "Boots On."

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban; Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, George Strait, and Keith Urban; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Joey + Rory, Montgomery Gentry, and Sugarland; and Vocal Group of the Year: The Eagles, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, and Zac Brown Band.

New Artist of the Year: Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, and Zac Brown Band; Album of the Year: Jamey Johnson's That Lonesome Song, Brad Paisley's American Saturday Night, Sugarland's Love on the Inside, Taylor Swift's Fearless, and Keith Urban's Defying Gravity; Single of the Year: Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy," Jamey Johnson's "In Color," Lady Antebellum's "I Run to You," Brad Paisley's "Then," and Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried"; and Song of the Year: "Chicken Fried," "I Told You So," "In Color," "People Are Crazy," and "Then."

Music Video of the Year: Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy," Randy Houser's "Boots On," Brad Paisley & Keith Urban's "Start a Band," George Strait's "Troubadour," and Taylor Swift's "Love Story"; Musical Event of the Year: Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire's "Cowgirls Don't Cry," Kenny Chesney & Mac McAnally's "Down the Road," Brad Paisley & Keith Urban's "Start a Band," The Raconteurs, Ricky Skaggs & Ashley Monroe's "Old Enough," Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis' "I Told You So," and Lee Ann Womack & George Strait's "Everything But Quits"; and Musician of the Year: Eddie Bayers (drums), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Dann Huff (guitar), Brent Mason (guitar), and Mac McAnally (guitar).

Reigning Female and Male Vocalists Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley will resume their roles as hosts for the second consecutive year. The 43rd Annual Country Music Association Awards will be handed out at Nashville's Sommet Center on November 11 and the ceremony will be broadcast live on ABC-Television.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

LeAnn Rimes Announces Plans to Divorce

Following numerous rumors and recently published photos of LeAnn Rimes laughing while riding a golf cart with actor Eddie Cibrian, with whom she co-starred in the Lifetime-TV movie Northern Lights, the singer has announced that she and Dean Sheremet are divorcing. Rimes and Sheremet are ending their marriage while Cibrian and his wife, model Brandi Glanville, filed for divorce after eight years of marriage on August 24.

Rimes posted the following message to fans on her website on September 1: "After much thoughtful mutual consideration, Dean and I have agreed to move forward with dissolving our marriage. This decision was amicable and we remain committed and caring friends with great admiration for one another. Thank you so much for all your continued love and support—it is deeply appreciated."

A Few Country Honors

In closing, there are a few special honors that deserve to be announced. On August 25, "Barefoot and Crazy" singer Jack Ingram set a new world record for the most number of radio interviews in 24 hours. Ingram set up shop in New York City and completed 215 interviews in one day to promote his new album, Big Dreams & High Hopes.

Recently crowned Country Music Hall of Famer Barbara Mandrell made history on September 5 when she became the first woman to be inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame during the International Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis.

"Redneck Woman" Gretchen Wilson received the National Coalition for Literacy's Literacy Leadership Award during a ceremony at Washington, D.C.'s Library of Congress on September 16. She has become very active in promoting literacy since earning her GED last year.

On October 18, Toby Keith will be named the Songwriter-Artist of the Decade by the Nashville Songwriters Association International during its annual Songwriter Achievement Awards. During the same ceremony, Craig Wiseman will be named Songwriter of the Decade and the late Tammy Wynette will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, Jack, Barbara, Gretchen, Toby, and Craig!

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