Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Swift & Hayes Top Country GRAMMY Nominations

When the nominees for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced last month during a televised ceremony held at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, country youngsters Taylor Swift and Hunter Hayes topped the country nominations with three nods each. Swift will vie for Record of the Year for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," and Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Song Written for Visual Media along with The Civil Wars for "Safe & Sound" from The Hunger Games movie. Hayes will vie for Best New Artist, Best Country Album for his self-titled debut album, and Country Solo Performance for "Wanted."

And the nominees are: Best Country Solo Performance: Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away," Ronnie Dunn's "Cost of Livin'," Dierks Bentley's "Home," Blake Shelton's "Over," Eric Church's "Springsteen," and Hunter Hayes' "Wanted"; Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Eli Young Band's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," Don Williams & Alison Krauss' "I Just Came Here for the Music," The Time Jumpers' "On the Outskirts of Town," Little Big Town's "Pontoon," and Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars' "Safe & Sound"; Best Country Album: Miranda Lambert's Four the Record, Hunter Hayes' Hunter Hayes, Jamey Johnson's Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, The Time Jumpers' The Time Jumpers, and Zac Brown Band's Uncaged; and Best Country Song: "Blown Away," "Cost of Livin'," "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore," and "Springsteen."

The GRAMMYs will be handed out February 10 and the ceremony will air live on CBS-Television.

Luke Bryan Dominates ACAs

Walking into the fan-voted 2012 American Country Awards last month, Luke Bryan was nominated for a whopping seven awards, and he was definitely the fan-favorite as he walked away with every single award he was vying for. He was awarded Artist of the Year, Artist of the Year: Male, Album of the Year for Tailgates & Tanlines, Single of the Year, Single of the Year: Male, Music Video of the Year, and Music Video of the Year: Male for "I Don't Want This Night to End." Following behind Bryan with two wins each were Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood.

And the winners are: Artist of the Year: Luke Bryan; Artist of the Year: Female: Carrie Underwood; Artist of the Year: Male: Luke Bryan; Artist of the Year: Group: Lady Antebellum; Artist of the Year: New Artist: Lauren Alaina; Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist: Jake Owen; Song of the Year: Eric Church's "Springsteen; and Album of the Year: Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines.

Single of the Year: Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End"; Single of the Year: Female: Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; Single of the Year: Male: Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End"; Single of the Year: Group: Lady Antebellum's "We Owned the Night"; Single of the Year: New Artist: Hunter Hayes' "Wanted"; Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist: Brantley Gilbert's "You Don't Know Her Like I Do"; and Single of the Year: Vocal Collaboration: Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood's "Remind Me."

Music Video of the Year: Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End"; Music Video of the Year: Female: Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; Music Video of the Year: Male: Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End"; Music Video of the Year: Group or Collaboration: Little Big Town's "Pontoon"; Music Video of the Year: New Artist: Hunter Hayes' "Wanted"; and Touring Artist of the Year: Jason Aldean.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Other Country Honors and Nods

On December 8, Keith Urban was bestowed the honor of accepting the 2012 Harmony Award at the 28th Annual Symphony Ball at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center. This annual honor is presented to "an individual who exemplifies the harmonious spirit of Nashville's thriving music community." When speaking of this honor, Urban stated, "It's a huge honor. When they told me not only that I was receiving it, but the past recipients too [Vince Gill, The Judds, Martina McBride, Dolly Parton, Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Trisha Yearwood], I thought I was in a really unique, exclusive wonderful club. I just love the fact that the award in itself creates awareness for the music community in Nashville."

When the nominees for the 2013 Golden Globe Awards were announced last week, country superstars Keith Urban and Taylor Swift (along with The Civil Wars) each appeared in the Best Original Song Category. Urban's "For You," which appeared in the movie Act of Valor, and Swift & The Civil Wars' "Safe & Sound" from The Hunger Games, will compete when the Golden Globes are handed out in Los Angeles on January 13. Urban stated, "The most rewarding gift for me as a songwriter is knowing that the song has somehow made a connection. I've been fortunate and moved to hear firsthand how it has impacted others' lives. For that, and for this nomination, I'm so very grateful and honored." Swift reacted to the nod with the following statement: "What an amazing and unexpected present! I'm blown away by my first-ever Golden Globe nomination and so honored to be nominated with T Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars. Writing music for The Hunger Games was a labor of love. I was a fan of the stories and the characters, and we all wanted the music to have an authenticity that matched the tone of the movie and the emotions expressed in the book. This is a huge honor, and I'm really excited and so flattered. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association."

Country Artists Among Forbes Highest-Paid Musicians

Forbes magazine recently released its annual list of the highest-paid musicians, and three of country music's finest were included among the top earners of all genres of music. Twenty-three-year-old Taylor Swift was the top-earning country artist with a whopping $57 million thanks to sales of her CDs, concert tickets, perfumes, and her contract with CoverGirl makeup. She was #8 on the list, tying with the legendary Sir Paul McCartney. Toby Keith tied Justin Bieber for the #10 spot with $55 million from sales of CDs, concert tickets, and merchandise, his "I Love This Bar & Grill" restaurant chain, and his contract with Ford Trucks. Kenny Chesney was the 17th top-earning musician with $44 million.

And who were the overall highest-paid musicians, you might ask? They are Dr. Dre with $110 million, #2 Roger Waters with $88 million, #3 Elton John with $80 million, #4 U2 with $78 million, and #5 Take That with $69 million.

Carrie Underwood to Take on The Sound of Music

Sometime during next winter's holiday season, Carrie Underwood's musical theater talents will be put to the ultimate test when she will take on the leading role of Maria von Trapp during a live three-hour telecast of the beloved musical The Sound of Music. Underwood has big shoes to fill as this role is forever synonymous with the legendary Julie Andrews, who portrayed Maria in the 1965 movie. Underwood will perform hits like "My Favorite Things," "So Long, Farewell," and "Do-Re-Mi" live on NBC-Television. Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, recently stated, "Speaking for everyone at NBC, we couldn't be happier to have the gifted Carrie Underwood take up the mantle of the great Maria von Trapp. She was an iconic woman who will now be played by an iconic artist."

Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said, "We're thrilled to be presenting the Broadway version of The Sound of Music live, and having Carrie Underwood as the star brings it to a new generation who will fall in love with it for the first time as many millions of people already have. It's a particular joy to us as producers to see this amazing artist stretch into new territory with this classic musical."

Congratulations on landing this role-of-a-lifetime, Carrie!

Country Baby Boom

Last month, Lady Antebellum member Hillary Scott announced that there will soon be a new member of the Lady A family. Scott and her drummer husband Chris Tyrrell announced on the band's website, "Chris and I are excited to announce that our Christmas gift has arrived a little early this year! We are having a BABY! We are so blessed!" Although no due date was announced, as a result of Scott's pregnancy and the obvious inability to travel to perform in the later stages of her pregnancy and surrounding the birth, Lady A has already cancelled some previously scheduled concerts this summer. The following dates have been cancelled: June 21 NEBRASKAland DAYS in North Platte; June 29 Country Stampede in Manhattan, Kansas; July 20 Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming; August 4 Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta, Canada; and September 7 York Fair in Pennsylvania.

"Bare Foot Blue Jean Night" crooner Jake Owen and his lovely wife Lacey welcomed their first child into the world on Thanksgiving Day. Daughter Olive Pearl was born November 22 in Nashville, weighed 6 lbs, 3 ozs, and measured 19 ½ inches. Upon her birth, the proud papa tweeted, "Today is the greatest day of my life. Welcome Olive Pearl Owen. 6lbs 3oz Turkey Baby!!! Happy Thanksgiving." In a statement, he went on to say, "Lacey and I are so excited to start our own family. We are looking forward to teaching Pearl everything we learned from our parents and also learning from her."

Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and husband Justin Miller also became first-time parents last month when son Magnus Hamilton Miller was born on December 6. The happy parents released a statement saying, "We are so thankful for all the prayers and support and are excited to take some time together as a new family." As a result, the brand new mother will be taking some time off from Sugarland, be she and duo partner Kristian Bush stress that they are not breaking up. Bush is using the Sugarland down-time to further explore songwriting and producing other artists.

Congratulations, Hillary & Chris, Jake & Lacey, and Jennifer & Justin!

Country Codas

Seventy-three-year-old drummer William Paul "Willie" Ackerman, who has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw staff bands, died December 13 in Nashville. Throughout his career, Ackerman toured with many artists, such as Patsy Cline, Don Gibson, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, and Jim Reeves, and performed on classic recordings like Marty Robbins' "El Paso."

Our condolences go out to Clint Black and his family upon the unexpected death of his father, G.A. Black, last month. Black's publicist announced the heart-breaking news via the following statement: "It is with a heavy heart that country superstar Clint Black releases information on the untimely death of his father, G.A. Black (78), on Sunday, December 2, 2012. It is believed that due to the loss of his wife, Mary Lou, in the last year and a half and his own declining health, G.A. Black chose to end his own suffering without any indication to his family or friends that he might do so. Mr. Black is survived by sons Mark, Brian, Kevin, Clint and his extended family." Clint went on to say, "Our family is devastated by this news. We are still in the beginning stages of preparations to honor our father, and at this time, we respectfully ask for privacy until we have had the opportunity to fully process what's transpired over the last 48 hours."

Famed songwriter Frank Dycus died the day after Thanksgiving at the age of 72, following a lengthy illness. Dycus was a two-time SESAC Songwriter of the Year and is best known for writing hits like George Stait's "Marina del Ray" and "Unwound," Mark Chesnutt's "Gonna Get a Life," George Jones' "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," and Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton's "Is Forever Longer Than Always."

Little Big Town was forced to cancel a couple shows at the end of November due to the tragic death of LBT member Kimberly Schlapman's brother-in-law, Allen Schlapman, who was killed by a drunk driver the day before Thanksgiving. Kimberly released the following statement on LBT's Facebook page: "Last Wednesday, Nov 21, my brother-in-law was killed by a drunk driver. He had come to Nashville from Virginia to visit us for Thanksgiving, which is our long-standing family tradition. He is married & has a 9 year old little girl. This is a part of life that one never imagines or plans for. It has been very difficult to accept. Allen Schlapman was an amazing father, husband, brother & son. We will miss him so much. I have been deeply touched by all your well-wishes & prayers. Thank you. God has proven Himself faithful to us & has given us great peace amidst this horrible tragedy."

Our condolences go out to all the grieving families!

Well, that's it for this month. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each of you the happiest and healthiest of New Years. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."