Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

4 th of July—Country Style

With our nation's celebration of independence just around the corner, country stars will be celebrating in some very big ways. "Small Town USA," "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away," and "Til My Last Day" crooner Justin Moore will be celebrating the 4th of July holiday here in our very own Derby city. He will headline the Fifth Third Bank Waterfront Independence Festival on Wednesday night, July 3 at Louisville's Great Lawn on the waterfront. Opening the FREE concert will be The Farm and Ode 2 the Gnu. Besides some hot country music, families will have the opportunity to enjoy fair food, a free kids' area, and fireworks.

"The Highway Don't Care" singer Tim McGraw will be heading to the Big Apple to celebrate the Fourth. He will headline the 2013 Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular along with pop songstress Mariah Carey. McGraw will perform and more than 40,000 fireworks will explode over New York City's Hudson River. The event will be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 8pm EDT.

American Idol Scotty McCreery, best known for his debut single "I Love You This Big," is going to countrify our nation's capitol when he performs as part of A Capitol Fourth in Washington D.C. He will be performing on the National Mall in front of the Capitol, which will air live at 8pm EDT on PBS. Other artists performing and celebrating in D.C. will be Barry Manilow, Jackie Evancho, Candice Glover, and Megan Hilty.

Country Stars Step Up for Oklahoma

Following the devastating tornadoes which ripped through Oklahoma on May 20, numerous country artists have stepped up to the plate to offer assistance and raise money for the victims of this natural disaster. Checotah, Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood collected $1 from each ticket sold on her recent "Blown Away Tour" and donated a whopping $1 million to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts in her home state. Speaking of the donation, she said, "With the help of my fans who attended my concerts over the past year, we can offer the Red Cross a little extra help in comforting those affected by the recent tornadoes." Country crooner and recent three-peat winning The Voice coach Blake Shelton, who was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma, teamed up with the NBC network to host last month's one-hour musical telethon Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert with fellow Okies Reba McEntire and Vince Gill, as well as wife Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Usher, and One Republic's Ryan Tedder. The event raised more than $6 million for the United Way of Central Oklahoma's May Tornadoes Relief Fund to be used for recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Moore, Oklahoma native Toby Keith, who now lives in neighboring Norman, Oklahoma, will host the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert on July 6 at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in his hometown. Keith recently said, "I grew up in Moore, I live in Norman, and I've got lots of family and friends who were directly affected. I know these folks, and they're resilient, but we're going to keep helping them any way we can. I'm proud to get together with some others from around here who are just as committed as I am to supporting these communities." Joining Keith for this benefit show will be Oklahoma natives Garth Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, Brooks' wife Trisha Yearwood, and the legendary Willie Nelson. Brooks recently said, "Once we got the news that the tornado had hit Toby's hometown, Miss Yearwood and I told Toby we were at his service for whatever he chose to do. I am amazed at the human spirit the tornado victims have shown. I am humbled by the giving of the volunteers. It is an honor to get to be a part of this healing process." Proceeds from this special concert will also benefit the United Way of Central Oklahoma's May Tornadoes Relief Fund.

Our hats are off to all the country artists and all Americans who have extended a helping hand and money to victims of the tragic Oklahoma tornadoes!

Daytime Emmy Awards Go Country

When the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were handed out in Los Angeles last month, believe it or not, two country acts were among the winners. Trisha Yearwood's Food Network cooking show, Trisha's Southern Kitchen, tied with Best Thing I Ever Made for the Best Culinary Program award. Little Big Town members Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook, along with co-writers Brad and Brett Warren, won an award for Best Original Song for "Good Afternoon," which LBT recorded for ABC's Good Afternoon America, which aired last summer.

Congrats Trisha, Karen, Kimberly, Phillip, and Jimi!

Country Artists Make Music History

The "King of Country Music," George Strait, recently made history when he became the first artist in history, among all genres of music, to top the music charts with 60 #1 tunes. Strait's first #1 was his 1982 release "Fool Hearted Memory," and his latest single, "Give It All We Got Tonight," became his 60th chart-topper. Speaking of the honor, Strait states, "I didn't realize we were making history. I just hoped we were putting out music that my fans would enjoy. As always, I'm thankful to the fans and country radio for their support on all 60 of these number one songs as well as my entire career. They are the ones who made this happen."

Hot country duo Georgia Florida Line also made country music history recently when their smash hit "Cruise" became the longest-running #1 song for a duo on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The single first topped the charts in December, and thanks to the recent release of the remix with rapper Nelly, it has resided at the #1 spot for 12 weeks. The previous record was held by Carl and Pearl Butler for their 1962 hit "Don't Let Me Cross Over."

2013 CMT Music Awards Winners & Naomi Judd's Critique

When the 2013 CMT Music Awards were handed out in Nashville last month, Florida Georgia Line took home two belt buckle trophies: Duo Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year for "Cruise." Miranda Lambert also took home two buckles: Female Video of the Year for "Mama's Broken Heart" and CMT Performance of the Year for "Over You." Carrie Underwood took home the coveted top prize, Video of the Year for "Blown Away."

And the winners are: Video of the Year: Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away"; Female Video of the Year: Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart"; Male Video of the Year: Blake Shelton's "Sure Be Cool If You Did"; Duo Video of the Year: Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise"; Group Video of the Year: Lady Antebellum's "Downtown"; Breakthrough Video of the Year: Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise"; Collaborative Video of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Eric Church's "The Only Way I Know"; CMT Performance of the Year: Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; and Nationwide Insurance "On Your Side" Award: Hunter Hayes.

Jason Aldean made his hosting debut during this award show's ceremony along with actress Kristen Bell, and he turned in a less than stellar, stiff job as co-host. In addition, some country fans were disappointed at the inclusion of Lenny Kravitz and rapper Nelly, and a lack of respect for the recently departed country legend George Jones during the ceremony. In a scathing letter to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper, Ashland, Kentucky native Naomi Judd, who made up famed country duo The Judds along with daughter Wynonna, offered her displeasure of what she felt was an extremely disrespectful and underwhelming tribute to Jones:

"George Jones is to country music what The Beatles are to pop, the Rolling Stones to rock, Elvis to rockabilly, Mozart to classical and Aretha to soul.

Yet, the 'Country' Music Television awards show allowed only a 'by the way' mention of Jones' death and legacy. Incongruously, they chose alternative music group the Mavericks to perform their short version of George's 'The Race Is On.'

True country music fans are a loyal bunch and are passionate about our roots and heritage.

Every year, CMT includes artists of unrelated genres, many of whom some country music fans don't even know. I suggest the CMT Awards show change its name. Perhaps to 'the Multi-Genre Awards Show, Featuring Artists under 30.'

I realize speaking out will cause me to now be forever banned by CMT. But I'm tired of folks messing with my country music. Especially when it involves my dear friend George Jones."

Naomi JuddLeiper's Fork 37064

Country Family Album

Our condolences go out to the family of Slim Whitman upon his passing June 19. The 89-year-old Grand Ole Opry legend best known for his 1952 hit "Indian Love Call," died from heart failure in Jacksonville, Florida. He was raised in Tampa, Florida and began his music career following a stint in the U.S. Navy. He is also known for hits like "Rose Marie," "Love Song of the Waterfall," "Something Beautiful (To Remember)," and "Guess Who." His last album, Twilight on the Trail, was released just last year.

Although Flatwoods, Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus filed for divorce from wife Tish Cyrus in 2010 and he later withdrew the filing and the couple reconciled, his wife decided to pull the plug on their near 20-year marriage last month. She filed the papers in Los Angeles Superior Court on June 13, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple has five children together, including the headline-stealing singer/actress Miley Cyrus. Tish Cyrus is requesting full custody of their only minor child, 13-year-old daughter Noah, spousal support, and asking that Cyrus pay her attorney's fees.

Our condolences go out to George Strait upon the June 4 passing of his father, 91-year-old John Byron Strait. He passed away after a lengthy illness and a near one-month hospitalization. His famous son released the following statement: "We are grateful for the time over the last few weeks we were able to spend with Daddy before he passed away. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this difficult time as we mourn our family's loss." John Strait was a junior high school math teacher and a rancher, and he is survived by wife Anna, daughter Pency Edel and husband Lea, son George Strait and wife Norma, daughter-in-law Denise Strait, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Stephen Barker Liles, who makes up half of "Angel Eyes" duo Love and Theft, became engaged in Ft. Myers, Florida on May 28. He popped the question to girlfriend Jenna Michelle Kennedy as he presented her a 2.34 carat diamond engagement ring. He says, "I am so blessed to have [Jenna] in my life and for us to become one. She is my best friend and I am so grateful for the Lord bringing her into my life." The couple plan to marry in May 2014.

Our best wishes go out to Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott, who is preparing to give birth to her first child this month. Lady A performed their last concert prior to the birth at the Taste of Country Music Festival late last month. When the band returns to the road following the birth, Scott, her drummer husband Chris Tyrrell, and the new baby will be traveling our country's highways in their very own "family" tour bus, separate from bandmates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, as well as the band.

Well, that's it for this month. Here's wishing each and every one of you a safe and happy 4th of July. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, 'cause country music is comin' your way."