Backstage at the Flame Worthy Awards, Part One

Chesney, Shelton, Dickens and Wilson Greet the Media

Maybe it was the thousands of screaming fans, or maybe it was Dolly Parton’s down-home humor as host, but all the stars seemed to be in good spirits backstage at the CMT 2004 Flame Worthy Video Music Awards. Here’s what some of them had to say in the pressroom.

Kenny Chesney, on winning the hottest video award: I would say that I run 15 to 20 miles a week. I eat very strictly, except for Sunday, when I can eat anything I want. I work out a lot. I know I probably wouldn’t have won this award back when I had “The Tin Man” out and had a face this big around. But I worked very hard.

Chesney, on Reba McEntire’s videos: I remember being in college, when I was first starting to write songs, and I was the kid in front of the TV watching awards shows, and CMT was just kind of starting up. I was watching everything. I was listening to everything that I could possibly get my hands on. “Whoever’s in New England” was a song that I loved, and that was one of the first videos that I remember seeing. It got me excited about country music, along with a lot of the people. … She means the world to country music, Reba does.

Chesney, on settling down: A friend of mine said, “You need a dog,” and I said, “No, I don’t. I’m never home to feed it.” And I’m not going to take it on the road. I’m smart enough to know that having a wife and kids in my life right now … there is not a place for them, but there’s going to be one day, and I want that. One day, I’m going to change gears and not have my thumb pressed down so hard on everything that I’m doing right now. Because it’s pressed down as hard as it can go right now and has been for a couple of years. Sure, I want a family, and I’d like to have a couple kids one day. That’d be awesome. But when I do that, I want to be able to go to Little League baseball games and not be on the road. That’s how I want to do it. If I have a wife and kids, I want to give 100 percent to it, and I don’t want them to be second to anything or anybody. Right now, they would be second.

Little Jimmy Dickens, on Brad Paisley: I wouldn’t trade my association with Brad Paisley for anything in the world. Not for the videos, the publicity or anything else but for the goodness of the man’s heart.

Dickens, on the new crop of country stars: I’m a fan of all of these young people, and I love them all. And I never dreamed that I would live to see the day that there would be a new bunch of people to come along in country music show me as much respect as they do. Every single new country artist in country music today shows me nothing but the greatest of respect, and I love them all.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Carson Kressley on Flame Worthy style: First of all, excellent use of cowhide. I’ve never seen so much, quite frankly. No, I think it’s good. … Here, you get the cowboy hats, and I kind of like it, a lot. It’s working for me.

Kressley on working with Dolly Parton: Oh, my God. I’ve met so many people since I’ve been doing the [Queer Eye] show — incredible, amazing, famous people. And I have to tell you, Dolly has always been my dream. When we were going over our lines, we got to harmonize together. (sings) “In the pines, in the pines.” You didn’t know you were getting a free concert, did you? But I love her. She’s like a pocket diva. A handy pocket diva. Scoop her up, take her home. “Carl, we’ll have her back next Tuesday.”

Kressley, on picking a country star to be on his show: How about my look alike, Keith Urban? Not because he needs it. I just want him with his shirt off for 10 minutes. You know, put him on the show, like … “Try this shirt on … turn around. You know what? Just put what you had on back on. You’re fine.”

Blake Shelton, joking about Carson Kressley: I don’t secretly watch Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but I promise you, I knew with my eye, instantly, that the guy was queer.

Jimmy Wayne, on what he’ll write in his journal about the Flame Worthy awards: I wanted Dolly Parton to sign my journal, and I actually brought my journal with me, so I do have it here. I’ll put a lot of stuff, like who I’ve seen in the hallway, who I’ve run into, kissing Dolly Parton’s hand when I ran into her in the hallway. I was so excited. I saw her, and I was like “Aahh!” She kind of looked at me, and she was like, “Oh, stop.” She’s very cool.

Gretchen Wilson, on seeing “Redneck Woman” on CMT: I feel a little bit weird seeing myself on TV still, just looking at myself on television. It’s odd when you see it for the first time. It’s a little strange. My little girl loves it. She comes screaming across the room every time the video comes on. “Mommy’s on TV!” She’s really excited about it. I’m thrilled about how everything’s going.

Gretchen Wilson, on attending her first award show: I had a great time doing the pre-show. The coolest thing to me was that [the fans] were standing out there in the rain with umbrellas, and they’re just die-hard. That’s really cool to me. I’ve only been in my seat for a little while, so I haven’t gotten to see much of the show. It’s different. I’ve always watched from home, and I’ve always been on the outside, and now I’m sitting out there among all the big names and big stars. It feels pretty cool.

Dr. Maya Angelou, on her favorite country singers: I’m a serious fan. I’m a conscientious fan. I like a lot of people. Almost everybody. Some people I don’t. There’s a new word in use: I don’t “resonate.” I like Vince Gill very much. I’m a Reba McEntire woman. I have been that for many years. I like Tim McGraw a lot and Rascal Flatts. They’re such rascals, but they sing so well and they’re funny, and they choose good music.

Dr. Angelou, on Alan Jackson: I think Alan Jackson shows his exquisite sensitivity from time to time — that song, “Remember When.” “Little Man,” I don’t know if you remember that. And “Little Bitty.” From time to time, Jackson shows himself to be that tender-as-a-rose person, and then he comes out with something as raunchy and wonderful as “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” And so that’s good. If it offends the person, then the person should not be offended. And if it offends him or her enough, then he must protest. Don’t whine. Protest. There’s a world of difference.

Dr. Angelou, on the eclectic nature of Flame Worthy presenters: You see, the truth is, we are so many things. Human beings … we are imaginatively created. (laughs) I can’t even conceive of the humor that the Creator must have to create us with all these differences. And yet, we are more alike than we are unalike. I see the differences in the human family. Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy. … The young man [Carson Kressley] could be talking about Kenny Chesney’s posterior, or he could be talking about one of the Flatts’ people. (laughs) But the truth is, we all have them.