Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Country Grammy Winners

When the 55th Annual Grammy Awards were handed out last month in Los Angeles, the televised ceremony kicked off with a country flavor as Taylor Swift offered a whimsical "Alice in Wonderland" inspired circus interpretation of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Other notable country performances included current tour mates Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley dueting on their hits "Over You" and "Home," Hunter Hayes performed an abridged version of his "Wanted" as he introduced his tour mate, Carrie Underwood, who blew the crowd away with her floor-length gown which displayed a myriad of projected designs which wowed the crowd as much as her powerful vocals on "Blown Away" and "Two Black Cadillacs." Zac Brown participated in a musical tribute to the late Levon Helm when he performed "The Weight" along with Mavis Staples, Elton John, T Bone Burnett, Mumford & Sons and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard. In addition, Kelly Clarkson performed a moving tribute to Grammy Lifetime Achievement Honorees Carole King and the late Patti Page with spot-on renditions of "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" and "Tennessee Waltz."

When it was time for the country awards to be announced, the Best Country Album Grammophone trophy went to the Zac Brown Band's Uncaged, the Best Country Solo Performance trophy went to Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away," Little Big Town deservedly earned their very first Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Pontoon," and the Best Song Written for Visual Media trophy went to Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars for "Safe and Sound" from The Hunger Games.

Congratulations to ZBB, Carrie, LBT, Taylor and The Civil Wars!

Eric Church Tops List of ACM Nominees

When the nominees for the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were announced last month, Eric Church pulled in the most nods with a whopping seven nominations. Church will compete for Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for Chief, Song of the Year (as performer and songwriter), Single Record of the Year and Video of the Year for "Springsteen," and Vocal Event of the Year along with Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan for "The Only Way I Know." Hunter Hayes trails Church with six nominations, followed by Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift with five nods each.

And the nominees are: Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift; Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood; Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Toby Keith and Blake Shelton; Vocal Duo of the Year: Big & Rich, Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, Sugarland and Thompson Square; and Vocal Group of the Year: The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Zac Brown Band.

New Artist of the Year: Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert and Jana Kramer; New Female Vocalist of the Year: Jana Kramer, Kacey Musgraves and Sunny Sweeney; New Male Vocalist of the Year: Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert and Hunter Hayes; New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year: Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft and Thompson Square; and Songwriter of the Year: Rodney Clawson, Dallas Davidson, Josh Kear, Luke Laird and Shane McAnally.

Album of the Year: Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines, Eric Church's Chief, Little Big Town's Tornado, Taylor Swift's Red and Carrie Underwood's Blown Away; Single Record of the Year: Eric Church's "Springsteen," Eli Young Band's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," Hunter Hayes' "Wanted," Miranda Lambert's "Over You," and Little Big Town's "Pontoon"; Song of the Year: Lee Brice's "A Woman Like You," Eric Church's "Springsteen," Eli Young Band's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," Hunter Hayes' "Wanted," and Miranda Lambert's "Over You"; Video of the Year: Eric Church's "Creepin'," Hunter Hayes' "Wanted, Little Big Town's "Tornado," Kasey Musgraves' "Merry Go Round," Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," and Zac Brown Band's "The Wind"; Vocal Event of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan & Eric Church's "The Only Way I Know," Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw's "Feel Like a Rock Star," Kelly Clarkson & Vince Gill's "Don't Rush," David Nail & Sarah Buxton's "Let It Rain," and Rascal Flatts & Natasha Bedingfield's "Easy."

The 48th Annual ACM Awards will be handed out in Las Vegas on April 7. The live ceremony, hosted by Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, will air on CBS-Television.

Mindy McCready Commits Suicide

The country music family took quite a blow last month when Mindy McCready committed suicide at her Heber Springs, Arkansas home on Sunday, February 17. The Cleburne County sheriff's department reportedly received a report of gunshots around McCready's home at 3:31 p.m., and when officers arrived at the home at 3:58 p.m., they discovered the singer's body, as well as the body of her dog, on the porch, where she was pronounced dead from a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The 37-year-old "Guys Do It All the Time" and "Ten Thousand Angels" singer had lived a very troubled life in recently years, which included the shooting death of her boyfriend and the father of her 11-month-old son, record producer David Wilson, at the couple's home on January 13. His death was first reported as a suicide, but although McCready was not named as a suspect, in a January 29 NBC News interview, McCready denied shooting Wilson. McCready's 6-year-old son Zander and baby Zayne were removed from her custody and placed in foster care following Wilson's death, and on January 30, following reports of suffering from depression, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol all night long, sleeping all day long and not bathing, a judge ordered McCready to be committed to a mental health and alcohol treatment facility. After undergoing a series of tests, McCready was released from the facility the following day and was enrolled in an outpatient program. McCready's father was reportedly staying with his daughter at her Arkansas home until the morning of her death. She had attempted suicide at least three times since 2005.

McCready's publicist released the following statement the day after McCready's death: "'We Hold Mindy McCready In The Light': It is with the deepest sadness we say goodbye to an extraordinary and gifted talent, a daughter, a mother and friend, Miss Mindy McCready.

Our attention at this time is devoted to the needs and care of Mindy's family. As Mindy spent much of her life in the public eye, we respectfully request your consideration and sensitivity to enable friends and family this time of 'quiet.'

To complement formal family arrangements, preliminary plans are being made by Mindy's 'friends in music' to organize a memorial in Nashville in the coming days. We will pass along updates and information surrounding details, as they are officiated by both family and friends."

Blake Shelton Ruling the World This Month

Blake Shelton fans will be in hog heaven, as it seems that he is going to rule the world this month. To kick things off, he will appear with pal Reba McEntire on her ABC sitcom Malibu Country on Friday, March 1, portraying Reba's brother on the show. Shelton has quite a connection to his fellow-Okie, as he is also managed by McEntire's manager-husband, Narvel Blackstock.

Believe it or not, country crooner Shelton will vie for two Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards come March 23. He will compete with Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and Usher for the title of Favorite Male Singer. In addition, his NBC singing competition show The Voice will compete with America's Got Talent, American Idol and Wipeout for Favorite Reality Series. In addition to Shelton's nominations, country sweetheart Taylor Swift will compete for Favorite Female Singer, her "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is up for Favorite Song, and she is up for Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie for her part in The Lorax.

On March 25, Shelton will once again be seated in his famous red chair as The Voice begins its fourth season. Returning as a co-judge will be Adam Levine (who has mentored one The Voice winner, while Shelton has mentored two winners), and, filling in for Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, who are sitting out this season to tour, will be Shakira and Usher. When recently speaking of the new judges, Shelton said, "We had a thing going with the four of us when it was Cee Lo and Christina and it's becoming a new thing now with the four of us. You almost have to learn to communicate all over again, because you have all these inside jokes and ways we understand each other now, it kind of has to start all over again." And spoken in true Shelton fashion, he continued, "But it didn't stop Adam and I from giving [Shakira & Usher] crap."

Fans will want to rush to their favorite record store or favorite digital download site on March 26 when Shelton's new album, Based on a True Story…, becomes available. The first single from this highly-anticipated album, "Sure Be Cool If You Did," is currently climbing up the country charts. This album will likely follow in the footsteps of Shelton's 2011 album Red River Blue, which was recently certified platinum for sales of 1 million copies.

Alabama Announces 40 th Anniversary Tour

The members of country supergroup Alabama, who retired from touring back in 2002, recently announced that they are hitting the road again in honor of their 40th anniversary as a band. Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook will once again hit the road with what they are calling the "Back to the Bowery Tour" in honor of their first performance back in 1973 at a dive bar called the Bowery. Owen recently stated, "I'm so excited to celebrate 40 years since our first show at the Bowery. We still love one another, have played music together all these years and are blessed to still be around. Most importantly, we are ever grateful for the fans, many having been with us since we used to play for tips, so to be able to go back out and play for them will make this a very special year."

The "Back to the Bowery Tour" will being at the Alabama Theatre in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on April 5 and is currently scheduled through October 12 at Thackerville, Oklahoma. Although no Louisville date has been announced, hopefully the boys will stop by the Derby city as more shows plan to be announced at a later date. Currently, the closest dates to Louisville are Atlanta on May 17 and Highland Park, Illinois on August 30. Keep reading for more information in upcoming months in case closer dates are announced.

Kramer & Gilbert Engaged

"You Don't Know Her Like I Do" and "Country Must Be Country Wide" singer Brantley Gilbert just may be a real-life cupid. On his 28th birthday on January 20, he rented out the famed Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music, for an unforgettable day. He blindfolded his girlfriend, actress and "Why Ya Wanna" country singer Jana Kramer, and with a five-carat round-cut diamond ring in his pocket, Gilbert led Kramer to the former stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Recounting the magical proposal, Kramer recently told a Detroit radio station that once they were on the Ryman stage, "And he was like, 'We always talk about how if it wasn't for country music, we never would have met. About 30 steps to our right is where Johnny [Cash] and June [Carter Cash] met.' Then he turned me around, he was down on one knee and he asked me to marry him." Needless to say, Kramer said, "Yes," and the happy couple plans to marry later this year, although they have not yet announced a date. The happy couple will each compete for the title of New Artist of the Year at next month's Academy of Country Music Awards.

Congratulations and best wishes to Brantley and Jana!

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