Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Taylor Swift Dominates KFC Yum! Center

Taylor Swift may be a mere 21years old, but during her rescheduled "Speak Now World Tour" stop at the KFC Yum! Center on October 11, she proved that she is well beyond her years when it comes to talent. Unfortunately her live singing voice is not the best in the business, but when it comes to entertainment value within a major stage production, she definitely brings her "A" game, rivaling the theatrics and originality of Lady Gaga packaged into a family-friendly show. The "Princess of Country" was reminiscent of one of the "Queens of Country," Reba McEntire, during her heyday in the 1980's and 1990's when both her hair and her tour production were huge, and she may have even outdone country's redheaded legend.

Throughout Swift's two-hour plus show, the excitement level rose for each adoring pre-teen fan in the sold-out audience with each costume change, set change, theme change, and delivery of yet another Swift-penned number. Country's sweetheart kicked the night off in a shimmering gold fringed dress singing "Sparks Fly" and "Mine" before donning her down-home, washerwoman white cotton dress and picking her banjo for crowd-favorite "Mean." Next Swift emerged from under the stage sitting at a white piano, wearing a floor-length ball gown to perform a moving medley of "Back to December" and a cover of "Apologize," backed by a parade of violinists spanning a suspended bridge, then quickly ripping the gown off to reveal a red sparkling mini-dress for a feisty performance of "You Belong with Me." For "Speak Now," Swift, her band, back-up singers, and dancers transformed the arena into a wedding chapel, leading to Swift emerging into the crowd to stroll to a revolving stage at the rear of the arena to perform acoustic versions of "Fearless" and "Last Kiss." She had every little girl dreaming of her Prince Charming when she donned a gold floor-length gown for "Enchanted," followed by a tattered red dress for a macabre Gaga-esque performance of "Haunted," complete with aerialists performing in the background as she commanded center stage.

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Photo By Mike Stout

Taylor Swift Taylor Swift

Quickly changing into a black and silver sequined dress, Swift played a silver glitter guitar for "Long Live." For an encore, Swift appeared on a couch wearing a flesh-colored fairy tale gown, performing a solo acoustic performance of "Ours," followed by "Fifteen," as photos of each band member at the age of 15, as well as current-day photos, appeared on the jumbo background screen as if Swift was flipping through her high school yearbook. And the pièce de résistance came as Swift stepped onto a small Romeo and Juliet balcony which allowed her to fly to the arena's rafters to thank her adoring fans and bid them adieu as she closed the show with "Love Story."

If you or a Taylor Swift fan on your Christmas shopping list were not fortunate enough to attend this unforgettable show, or if you'd like to relive the magic, never fear as Speak Now World Tour—Live will be released as CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray combos on November 21. The DVD and Blu-ray will include performances of all 17 songs from Swift's "Speak Now" tour, along with bonus behind-the-scenes content. The CD will feature more than 75 minutes of live Taylor Swift music.

After witnessing Swift's live performance last month, there's no question why Billboard magazine recently named her Woman of the Year. She will receive the prestigious award during the 2011 Billboard Women in Music event in New York City on December 2, being the youngest recipient to date. The magazine's editorial director recently stated, "Taylor has shown the power of good songwriting with music that has transcended genres, and we're thrilled to recognize all of her successes over the past year by honoring her with the Billboard Woman of the Year Award."

Reminder: CMA Awards November 9

If you haven't already done so, you'll definitely want to stop and take a moment to set your DVR for the 45th Annual Country Music Association Awards ceremony, airing live on ABC-Television on November 9. Hosted for the third consecutive year by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, the program will include performances by New Artist of the Year nominees Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Thompson Square, and Chris Young, as well as Entertainer of the Year nominees Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban. And to top all of these performances, Faith Hill will be premiering her long-awaited new single.

Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swift lead this year's list of nominees with five nods each. All four will compete for the coveted Entertainer of the Year award, along with Keith Urban, and they'll all compete against Zac Brown Band for Album of the Year. Aldean, Paisley, and Shelton will compete for Male Vocalist of the Year along with Kenny Chesney and Urban, while Swift will compete against Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, and Carrie Underwood for Female Vocalist. In addition, Aldean's "Don't You Wanna Stay," along with Kelly Clarkson, will vie for Single and Musical Event of the Year. Paisley's "Old Alabama," featuring country supergroup Alabama, is in the running for Musical Event and Music Video of the Year. Shelton's "Honey Bee" will compete for Single and Music Video of the Year, and Swift's "Mean" will vie for Song and Music Video of the Year.

Country Nods for American Music Awards

On October 11, Taylor Swift and The Band Perry each earned three 2011 American Music Awards nominations. Swift will vie for Favorite Female Country Artist, Favorite Country Album, and the overall All-Genre Artist of the Year, while The Band Perry brother-sister trio will vie for Favorite Country Duo, Band, or Group, Favorite Country Album, and overall New Artist of the Year. Jason Aldean is up for Favorite Male Country Artist and Favorite Country Album, while Thompson Square will compete for the title of Favorite Country Duo, Band, or Group and the overall New Artist of the Year.

And the country nominees are: All-Genre Artist of the Year: Adele, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift; New Artist of the Year: Marsha Ambrosius, The Band Perry, Foster the People, Hot Chelle Rae, Wiz Khalifa, LMFAO, Miguel, and Thompson Square; Favorite Country Album: Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, and Taylor Swift; Favorite Female Country Artist: Sara Evans, Miranda Lambert, and Taylor Swift; Favorite Male Country Artist: Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, and Blake Shelton; and Favorite Country Duo, Band, or Group: The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, and Zac Brown Band.

Fans can vote for the 2011 AMA's through November 11 on abc.go.com/shows/american-music-awards. The awards will be handed out live on ABC-Television on November 20.

Jason Aldean & Zac Brown Band Top List of American Country Awards Nominees

When the nominees were announced for the 2nd Annual American Country Awards recently, Jason Aldean and the Zac Brown Band blew the competition out of the water with eight nominations each. Aldean will vie for Artist of the Year; Artist of the Year: Male; Album of the Year for My Kinda Party; Single of the Year: Male and Music Video: Male for "My Kinda Party"; Single of the Year: Vocal Collaboration and Music Video: Duo, Group, or Collaboration for "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Kelly Clarkson; and Touring Headline Act of the Year. Zac Brown Band will compete for Artist of the Year; Artist of the Year: Duo or Group; Album of the Year for You Get What You Give; Single of the Year and Music Video: Duo, Group, or Collaboration along with Alan Jackson for "As She's Walking Away"; Single of the Year: Duo or Group for "Colder Weather"; and Single of the Year: Vocal Collaboration for "Knee Deep" with Jimmy Buffett and "As She's Walking Away" with Alan Jackson. Competing against Aldean and ZBB for Artist of the Year will be Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, and Taylor Swift. Thompson Square followed Aldean and ZBB with seven nominations, followed by The Band Perry and Taylor Swift with six each.

Awards will be handed out December 5 at Las Vegas's MGM Grand Garden Arena in the following categories: Artist of the Year; Male, Female, Duo or Group, Breakthrough Artist, and New Artist of the Year; Album of the Year; Single of the Year; Male, Female, Duo or Group, New Artist, and Vocal Collaboration Single of the Year; Touring Headline Act of the Year; Music Video of the Year; and Male, Female, New Artist, and Duo, Group or Collaboration Music Video of the Year.

Fans can vote for the American Country Awards through November 11 for all categories except for Artist of the Year, which can be voted for until December 2, by simply logging onto www.theacas.com. Winners will be announced live on FOX-Television on December 5. Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth will host the awards program.

Rascal Flatts Joins the Opry

Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney, and Jay DeMarcus, better known as Rascal Flatts, became the latest members of the legendary Grand Ole Opry when they were formally inducted into the country music institution on October 8. After performing "Life Is a Highway," former President George W. Bush congratulated the trio on this major accomplishment via video and Opry legend Little Jimmy Dickens and Opry General Manager Pete Fisher officially welcomed them into the Opry family. The three stood in the famous wooden circle from the original Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium, and Rooney said, "Blessed, honored, humbled, grateful—those are words that come to mind when I stand right here on this famous circle in the Grand Ole Opry House, and we are going to do this honor due diligence. We're going to work our tails off, to wave this Grand Ole Opry banner for years to come."

Fans can pick up Rascal Flatts' brand new live album, The Best of Rascal Flatts Live, on November 8.

Steel Magnolia Temporarily Becomes a Solo Act

CMT Can You Duet season two winning duo Steel Magnolia, which is comprised of fiancés Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones, became a solo act recently when Jones entered rehab for substance abuse. The duo, best known for its smash hit "Keep On Lovin' You," has continued on with Linsey performing solo during Jones's treatment, performing as planned as the opening act on Reba McEntire's current tour.

Steel Magnolia recently posted the following statement from Jones on its website: "God has been on my heart to announce and make public that I have entered a rehabilitation and treatment facility to address issues related to alcohol and substance abuse. Hundreds of thousands of people in the world struggle with these battles daily. Therefore, I am sincerely grateful for all thoughts and prayers at this very poignant juncture in my life and career. I would also like to thank my family, friends, record label, and management team for being so supportive and having an active hand in my recovery process."

Country Baby Boom

Congratulations are in order for two of country music's new fathers. Big & Rich member and Celebrity Apprentice winner John Rich and his wife Joan welcomed their second son into the world on September 29. 7-lb, 14-oz Colt Daniel Rich joined big brother Cash, who was born in January 2010. On October 3, Eric Church and his wife Katherine became first-time parents upon the birth of son Boone McCoy Church. Baby Church tipped the scales at 7-lbs, 11-ozs.

Country Codas

Country music pioneer, 97-year-old Johnnie Wright, died at his home in Madison, Tennessee on September 27. The husband of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" singer and "Queen of Country Music" Kitty Wells, Wright was also known as half of country duo Johnnie & Jack along with his brother-in-law, Jack Anglin. Johnnie & Jack are best known for hits "Poison Love," "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" and "(Oh Baby Mine) I Get So Lonely," and he topped the charts with "Hello Vietnam" as a solo artist following Anglin's death in a car wreck.

Our condolences go out to songstress Trisha Yearwood upon the October 1 passing of her 73-year-old mother, Gwen Yearwood, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Yearwood fans were very familiar with her mother as the two wrote two cookbooks along with Yearwood's sister, Beth Yearwood Bernard—Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen: Recipes from My Family to Yours and Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood: Stories and Recipes to Share with Family and Friends.

Charlie Daniels and the Charlie Daniels Band lost a beloved friend and more than 40-year bandmate when 67-year-old Joel "Taz" DiGregorio died in an automobile accident on October 12. The CDB co-founder and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" songwriter was involved in the fatal accident as he was driving to meet the band's tour bus to head out for concerts in Georgia and Connecticut.

Well, that's it for this month. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each of you and your families a very happy Thanksgiving! Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."