HOT DISH: Kenny’s Awards Are Long Overdue

Even Keith Urban's Mother Was Wishing Chesney the Best at the CMA Awards

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by former Country Music magazine columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at

The late Roy Acuff — the King of Country Music and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame — was proud to be from east Tennessee, where mountains are tall, valleys are deep and music is a way of life. Dolly Parton and Carl Smith, both members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, themselves, are from those hills, and both Kenny Chesney and the late Chet Atkins proudly claimed Luttrell, Tenn., as home.

Acuff opened a museum at Opryland to showcase his many awards. Chet got a slew of awards, including 14 Grammys and nine CMA trophies. Awards line the shelves of Parton’s museum at her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Carl Smith’s many music awards are in his Franklin, Tenn., home.

Even after 12 years on the road, though, Kenny Chesney had been ignored. Until now.

Right now, Chesney’s hotter’n a June bride. Just named EOY (entertainer of the year) by the CMA, his triple-platinum When the Sun Goes Down was voted album of the year.

Little Kenny ain’t so little these days. He was the token country artist nominated for the fan-voted American Music Awards all-genre artist of the year. Kenny, the only nominee of the night to best Usher, accepted his award while fellow nominees OutKast, Norah Jones, Evanescence and Usher looked on.

Gazing at the fans in the balcony at the AMAs, Kenny drawled, “God bless y’all for this.” Kenny’s crazy ’bout his fans.

Sitting Out Front
Keith Urban opened shows for Kenny Chesney for two tours, and they became close friends. As a result, Kenny became acquainted with Keith’s Aussie parents, who were sitting in the audience at the CMA Awards with Fletcher Foster, senior vice president at Keith’s record label, Capitol Nashville. Keith was backstage. From the stage they heard, “Nominees for male vocalist …” and Kenny’s name read aloud. Mum Urban whispered to Fletcher, “I hope Kenny wins.” Then from the stage they heard, “And the winner is Keith Urban.” Keith bawled, but his stunned mum bawled more.

Eye Saw Around Nashville
Eye saw Ronnie Bowman at the Sapporo Japanese Restaurant. “I need a sushi fix,” allowed Bowman, one of the finest singers to ever say howdy through a vocal mike. “It’s Getting Better All the Time,” the mighty fine song Brooks & Dunn performed on the CMAs was co-written by Bowman and Don Cook. And the song is the next single from the CMA’s vocal duo’s The Greatest Hits Collection II.

Eye saw Joe Nichols’ producer, Brent Rowan, at Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery. Rowan compared himself to soap star Susan Lucci, who is nominated for an Emmy but seldom wins. See, 2004 was Rowan’s seventh CMA nomination for musician of the year — and his seventh loss.

Where’s Gretchen’s Awards?
Gretchen Wilson’s CMA Horizon award is on her bus and so is her American Music Award as breakthrough favorite new artist. Why? It’s because the girl has not been home. She’s out performing with Big & Rich, getting rich.

I see where Gretchen is the only country act invited to read Grammy nominations Dec. 7 in Hollywood. Listen, don’t they usually ask nominees to read the Grammy nominations? I think that’s how they do it.

Just out: The Country Radio Seminar will not have a Super Faces Show come March 2005 … just the Muzik Mafia — Gretchen and Big & Rich — at a new event billed as the Music City Jam.

Country’s Tallest
A 45-foot Christmas pyramid, the tallest in the nation, is the focal point of Dollywood’s 2004 Smoky Mountain Christmas festival. Some 3.5 million lights are shining on the pyramid to reveal intricate carvings on three tiers depicting the Nativity with trumpeting angels hovering on the top. Holiday entertainment fills the stages with country music and aroma of yummy holiday foods. Smoky Mountain Christmas is for families and will continue until Dec. 30.

One Liners
During the first week out for their respective greatest hits albums, Shania Twain’s sales of 530,000 edged out Toby Keith, who sold a very respectable 435,489 pieces.

Plumb perfect Vince Gill, who admits his weight dares to fluctuate at times, did the ribbon cutting at the new Krispy Kreme in Brentwood.

Reba McEntire and executives from the Dillard’s department store chain were in New York for a luncheon introducing the first pieces of the Reba clothing line due March 2005.

Lee Ann Womack, spokesperson for Sparkle paper towels recently visited with — and sang to — contest winner Amy Moore and 300 of her friends and kin after Amy wrote an essay explaining why Farmington, Utah, is a special place to live.

SESAC honored that cute Joe Nichols for “Cool to Be a Fool,” his first ever songwriter award.

Phil Vassar and co-writer Craig Wiseman celebrated with a No. 1 party at ASCAP for his chart-topping “In a Real Love.”

John Michael Montgomery joins the Erv Woolsey team for management. It’s where George Strait, Lee Ann Womack, Andy Griggs and Dierks Bentley also hang their hats.

Lonestar’s single “Mr. Mom” is No. 1 for a second straight week.

Here’s a big thank you to Oprah Winfrey, who has had major weight issues, for sticking with Wynonna as she tries to shed the unwanted.

Toby Keith and Shania Twain are still talking about recording a duet.

Dolly Parton was presented the International Artist Achievement Award by reps from the BBC 2-TV for taking country music beyond the U.S.

I’m not impressed that Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney’s girlfriend — model, ex-cheerleader and former Miss Georgia USA Tiffany Fallon — is adding “Playboy centerfold” to her resume of “look at me.”

With a 4-week old in the cradle, Sara Evans not only looks like a model, the girl’s Born to Fly was just certified double platinum.

While in Nashville, Shania Twain was surprised by a double-Diamond plaque for the RIAA’s certification of sales of 20 million for the all-time biggest country album ever, Come On Over.

Do not forget Tim McGraw big-time TV special on NBC-TV Thanksgiving eve with his special guest — and the lady he sleeps with — Faith Hill.

Kenny Chesney’s former Brentwood digs are on the market for $3.1 million.

Montgomery Gentry taped CMT Crossroads with Lynyrd Skynyrd before departing on their second country cruise to the Caribbean, this time with Trent Willmon.

From the Road
Bluegrass Unlimited magazine’s Pete and Kitsy Kuykendall and banjo master Ben Eldredge of Seldom Scene fame attended the Dolly Parton/Grascals concert in Fairfax, Va., and reported it to be the finest show they’d ever seen. The Grascals’ single with Dolly, “Viva Las Vegas,” is in stores now.

Tuning In
Between turkey and dessert, you’ll want tune in to CMT on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25) for the debut of Brad Paisley’s new “Mud on the Tires” video. You might see a friend of country muddy … I mean … music. The video’s world premiere takes place at 5 p.m. ET/PT on Top Twenty Countdown.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Tasty Salad.