Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

The Super Bowl is Going Country

Pop shock icon Madonna might be the halftime performer during the NFL's biggest night of the year, Super Bowl XLVI, but country music will definitely be represented as football fans turn their attention to the big game, scheduled in downtown Indianapolis's Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5. Kelly Clarkson, who has enjoyed great success in country music dueting with pal Reba McEntire and Jason Aldean, will sing the National Anthem prior to the kickoff, but the reigning "First Couple of Country Music," Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert will perform a duet of "America the Beautiful" to kick off one of the most-watched television events of the year.

Although the big event is on Sunday night, Indianapolis will play host to thousands of football and music fans alike leading up to the Super Bowl. Dierks Bentley was scheduled to perform a free concert from 9:15-10:45pm on Sunday, January 29 on the Verizon Stage in the Super Bowl Village. Darius Rucker will perform a free concert on the same stage from 9:30-11:00pm on Thursday, February 2. On Super Bowl Eve, Saturday, February 4, Sara Evans will perform at the Taste of the NFL's 21st Annual Party with a Purpose fundraiser to benefit Gleaner's Food Bank in Indy.

For all things Super Bowl, and to help prevent you from missing any of these country performances, log onto IndianapolisSuperBowl.com. Super Bowl XLVI will air live on NBC-Television on February 5.

Aldean & Swift Heading to the Grammy Awards

Country fans won't want to miss the 54th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony when it airs live on CBS Television on February 12. Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift, who each have three Grammy nominations, will perform during the broadcast. The pair will each compete for Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance. "Don't You Wanna Stay," Aldean's duet with Kelly Clarkson, is up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Swift's "Mean" will compete for Best Country Song. Blake Shelton was the only other country artist with three nominations, including Best Country Album, Best Country Solo Performance for "Honey Bee," and Best Country Song for "God Gave Me You."

On the night before the Grammy Awards ceremony, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards will be handed out during an invitation-only ceremony in Los Angeles. This year's recipient list includes two country legends: "The Possum," George Jones, and the "Rhinestone Cowboy," Glen Campbell. Other recipients include The Allman Brothers Band, the late Antonio Carlos Jobim, the Memphis Horns, Diana Ross, and the late Gil Scott-Heron.

Condolences to Blake Shelton

We'd like to extend our condolences to Blake Shelton upon the passing of his father last month. Shelton dedicated his Music Video of the Year win at December's American Country Awards to Dick Shelton, who was hospitalized with pneumonia at the time. Mr. Shelton's health continued to decline and he passed away January 17 in Oklahoma, surrounded by loved ones. Blake postponed four concerts due to his father's death, rescheduling shows in Bismarck, North Dakota, Rapid City, South Dakota, and Bozeman and Billings, Montana for March 20-23. He released a statement telling fans, "I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time and thank you for all your prayers. Your support means the world to me. I love you guys." Shelton was scheduled to resume his tour on January 26 in Columbus, Georgia. He and his lovely wife, Miranda Lambert, still intend to perform at the Super Bowl in Indy, February 5.

And speaking of Lambert, she was by her husband's side during this difficult time surrounding her father-in-law's death, postponing three concerts herself. Her Lexington, Kentucky show previously scheduled for January 20 has been moved to February 26. She also released a statement saying, "Thank you to the fans for all the support and prayers. This is a really difficult time for our family and the most important thing is being together. Tell your loved ones you love them."

Keith Urban is Back

Keith Urban has been lying low of late since he was forced to put his career on hold late last year after undergoing vocal cord surgery in November. Well, the "country music wonder from Down Under" has fully recovered and his comeback appearance will be on the stage of the legendary Grand Ole Opry at the famed "Mother Church of Country Music," the Ryman Auditorium, on February 3. This will be his first make-up of two November Opry performances he was forced to postpone — his second make-up performance will be on March 9, back at the Grand Ole Opry House. These two Opry performances were not the only shows affected as Urban also had to postpone his "All For the Hall 2012" benefit concert. This third annual fundraiser concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 10 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. Joining Urban for this show will be Alabama, The Band Perry, Blue Sky Riders, Diamond Rio, Exile, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Oak Ridge Boys, Pistol Annies, Rascal Flatts, and Thompson Square. Speaking of this show, Urban recently stated, "My goal for the concert is really the same as the Hall's: to help country fans connect the dots — to find out where their music came from, how it's evolved (and is still evolving), and to discover the artists that have influenced their favorite artists. Country music is like a big beautiful strange family tree and nowhere is that more honored than at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum." The previous two "All For the Hall" benefit concerts have raised nearly $1 million to help preserve country music's heritage.

If you're unable to attend either of Urban's upcoming Opry performances or "All For the Hall," you're still in for a treat because the singer has a brand new song which he co-wrote with Monty Powell featured in a movie hitting theaters this month. "For You" will be featured during the closing credits of the Navy SEAL action movie Act of Valor, which hits theaters February 24. Urban says, "I loved the challenge of writing for a film. I've never done that before. After seeing Act of Valor, my co-writer and I wanted to capture the essence of not only what these men and women do so extraordinarily, but how that relates to all of us. 'Valor' shows us what they are willing to give their all for, which made me wonder, 'What am I willing to give my life for?' 'For You' is intended to allow the listener to define who that is for them."

Swift Never Ceases to Amaze

Taylor Swift must be having the time of her life as awards seem to keep popping up around every corner she turns. Last month, the 2012 People's Choice Awards were handed out and although she wasn't in attendance, Swift captured the Favorite Country Artist trophy, beating out Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, and Keith Urban. Despite the fact there was only one country music category among all the People's Choice Awards, Faith Hill proudly represented Nashville during the ceremony by performing an unforgettable rendition of her new single, "Come Home."

In addition to all her awards, sell-out concerts, chart-topping singles and albums, her very own fragrance, and being the first country artist to ever grace the cover of Vogue magazine (on newsstands this month), Swift likes to try new things every once in awhile. Although she appeared in last year's Gary Marshall-directed Valentine's Day movie and she has voiced the character of Audrey in the animated film Dr. Seuss' The Lorax hitting regular and 3D IMAX theaters on March 2, she just may be sinking her teeth into a meatier role beginning next month. She recently tried out for and was offered the role of Eponine in the big screen adaptation of the world's longest-running musical, Les Misérables. No announcement has been made stating whether or not she has accepted the role, but keep your ears open for an announcement as filming is scheduled to begin next month, with plans for the movie to be released in December. Actors already confirmed to appear in the movie are Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, and Aaron Tveit.

Congrats, Taylor! You never cease to amaze us!

Love Is In the Air

Valentine's Day isn't until the 14th of the month, but love has certainly been in the air lately among the country music community. Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott and drummer Chris Tyrrell were engaged last summer and never publicly announced a wedding date, but, much to fans' surprise, the happy couple was married during an intimate ceremony just before sunset in upstate New York on January 7. Surrounded by family and friends, including Scott's songwriter father, Lang Scott, and singing mother, Linda Davis, following the very spiritual ceremony, the couple danced their first dance to a live performance by Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman. The Tyrrells broke the news of their wedding with a video on Lady A's website the day after their nuptials. Tyrrell began the video by saying, "I'd like to introduce you to Mrs. Hillary Scott-Tyrrell," while the bride proudly showed fans her wedding ring. The blushing bride chimed in, "We got married, and we just wanted you to hear it from us first. We love you, and we're so excited to be starting our life together, and we just had to let you in on the exciting news."

Scott's fellow Lady A band mate Charles Kelley has been happily married to country music publicist Cassie McConnell since the summer of 2009, meaning the remaining one-third of the trio, Dave Haywood, is the only member on the market. Well, ladies, sorry to break the news, but Haywood is officially off the market as he proposed to girlfriend Kelli Cashiola over the holidays. While Cashiola was at work one day, Haywood took the liberty to prepare his proposal by decorating every room of her house and spelling out "Will you marry me?" in Christmas lights. He picked his soon-to-be fiancé up from work at Warner Music Nashville (where she is the VP of marketing/brand management), asked her to put on a blindfold as they approached her house, and popped the question with several watts of lights. Needless to say, Cashiola said, "Yes." The happy couple has not yet announced a wedding date.

Ashland, Kentucky native Wynonna had a Christmas Eve she won't soon forget. Her boyfriend since late 2009, Scott "Cactus" Moser, asked Ms. Judd to be his wife. If you're thinking that Moser sounds vaguely familiar, you're absolutely correct as he is the drummer for the 1980's group Highway 101, known for hits like "Cry, Cry, Cry," "The Bed You Made for Me," "Whiskey, If You Were a Woman," "Who's Lonely Now," and "Somewhere Tonight." This will be Wynonna's third marriage — she divorced Nashville businessman Arch Kelly III, with whom she has two teenage children, back in 1998, and her four-year marriage to former body guard D.R. Roach ended in 2007 after he was charged with sexual assault with a minor. Wynonna and Moser are currently touring as "Wynonna & The Big Noise."

"Love Like Crazy" singer Lee Brice also popped the question while vacationing in Key West, Florida over the New Year holiday. Brice and girlfriend Sara Reeveley have dated for more than a decade and on January 2, the happy couple became engaged. The two have a three-year-old son, named Takoda. When recently speaking about his upcoming marriage, Brice said, "I finally get to marry that beautiful girl I met on Myrtle Beach [13] years ago. I can't wait to get Sara and Takoda to Nashville so we can all be together."

Congratulations to all the happy couples!

Has Steel Magnolia Broken Up?

At press time, one of the burning questions in country music was whether or not country duo Steel Magnolia had broken up. Rumors started swirling last month when the duo, made up of fiancés Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones, was dropped from its record label, Big Machine Records, and the two canceled a March 24 concert at Greenville, Tennessee's Niswonger Performing Arts Center. The venue's executive director released a statement saying, "It is our understanding that the duo is no longer performing together. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause our patrons."

Since winning Country Music Television's "Can You Duet" competition back in 2009, the couple has been on a roller coaster ride. Following great success of their debut single, "Keep On Loving You," their full-length debut album suffered many delays before finally being released in January of 2011, and their follow-up single, "Last Night Again," enjoyed mediocre success. The duo was scheduled to tour with Reba McEntire last fall, but Jones pulled out of the tour when he entered rehab for substance abuse, but Linsey kept the duo's commitment to the tour and performed some of their songs as solos and performed some as duets along with James Otto. Upon completion of rehab late last year, Linsey stated, "[Jones] completed his program. I think it's a real brave thing. He's done really well and stuck it out…I've just tried to support him, and the fans and the label have been super supportive."

If Twitter is any indication, these rumors unfortunately seem to be true. On December 30 and January 5, both Linsey and Jones tweeted to fans, asking them to follow their individual, personal Twitter accounts. On January 6, Jones admitted on Twitter that he had moved into a new place. At this point, we can only hope that these rumors are false and that Steel Magnolia will bounce back with a new recording contract, new music, and a renewed personal relationship.

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