HOT DISH: From the Heart of Country

There's No Shortage of Country Stars Pitching In to Help Hurricane Victims

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

It appears to me that ever since Hurricane Katrina paid her destructive visit to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, my shy, good-hearted and talented friend Alan Jackson keeps raising his hand. Not because Alan has answers to questions regarding this unbelievable devastation, but because he is obliged to help. He’s that way.

Knowing Alan to be a silent giver, I always tried to learn where he helped so I could give him credit. When I finally asked him, he smiled, changed the subject and would not say. But when he and wife Denise built Angel’s House in their hometown of Newnan, Ga., for teens with no place to go, it hit the media, and Alan had to talk to me about it. Then once when I was autographing copies of my cookbook, a lady began thumbing through the pages and noticed the recipes from Alan and Vince Gill. “I’m a volunteer at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital,” she told me. “Any time there is a need for anything, we call Alan or Vince, and they take care of it.”

That brings me to Katrina. Alan donated all proceeds from his Sept. 8 show in Columbus, Ohio, to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. He also teamed up with the concert venue and radio station sponsor to donate $3 to hurricane relief efforts from each ticket sold to his Sept. 10 concert in Philadelphia. And he appeared on the CMT, MTV and VH1’s multi-genre ReAct Now: Music & Relief special that also featured the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow and a bevy of others, including Chris Thomas King, who escaped Katrina with his wife and two children by leaving their New Orleans home for Nashville. King played the bluesy guitar man, Tommy Johnson, in the film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?

And the Giving Continues
Terri Clark is donating 10 percent of all merchandising proceeds to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

Brooks & Dunn sent a semi truck loaded with cell phones, clothing and other necessities for the survivors. Ronnie Dunn’s 10-year-old daughter placed cardboard stand-ups of her dad and his partner, Kix Brooks, behind a lemonade stand at the end of the Dunns’ driveway where she and four pals raised more than $900.

Farm Aid president Willie Nelson activated the organization’s Family Farm Disaster Fund to encourage support of the farmers who have suffered severe losses as a result of the hurricane. He also launched a radio ad campaign calling on America to help.

Sam’s Town Casino in Tunica, Miss., donated $15,000 to the Red Cross and are scheduling a benefit show featuring Buddy Jewell.

American Idol winner Carrie Underwood and the finalists from season four headlined a show in Syracuse, N.Y., with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting the Red Cross.

Tim McGraw performed on the all-genre NBC-TV telethon.

“Mississippi Girl” Faith Hill brought several trucks loaded with supplies into Gulfport, Miss., and politely declined to be interviewed about it. Country girls and country boys don’t like to give and tell.

George and Nancy Jones sent a truckload of George Jones brand water to Louisiana.

Darryl Worley has set aside $50,000 of the proceeds from his Tennessee River Run coming up Sept. 16-17 for disaster relief.

Broken Bow Records will donate $1 for each CD sold between now and the end of the year with money going to Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Craig Morgan, Sherrie Austin, Jason Aldean and Joe Diffie record for the label.

Oh Boy Records is also donating $1 to the Red Cross for each CD sold at the label’s Web site through the end of September. Oh Boy’s artist roster includes John Prine, Todd Snider and Kris Kristofferson.

Aaron Tippin is requesting donations at his concerts.

God bless each and every person who is helping in any way to ease pain for the survivors of this the worst devastation in the history of our beloved country.

CMA Nominations
Flying from Austin, Texas, to New York, Brad Paisley had spent two days with his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who’s filming a movie in the Lone Star state. Brad was on his way to perform his latest hit, “Alcohol,” on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and The View. When the plane landed, he saw on his cell phone that his manager was calling. An excited Bill Simmons broke the news that Brad was nominated in six CMA categories.

Lee Ann Womack, who announced the CMA Awards nominees in New York with Keith Urban, was genuinely surprised to receive six nominations, including nods for album, single, video and female vocalist, not to mention two musical event nominations for “Good News, Bad News” with George Strait and “I’ll Never Be Free” with Willie Nelson. Lee Ann has learned what a great country album can do for a career. She calls There’s More Where That Came From her dream album.

I was surprised Tim McGraw wasn’t included in the entertainer of the year category with Paisley, Urban, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson and Toby Keith. The strongest category this year, in my opinion, is the Horizon Award with five powerhouse acts — Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich, Miranda Lambert, Julie Roberts and Sugarland.

The CMA Awards will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 15 and will be broadcast live on CBS-TV.

New York Times Best Seller
In its first week out, Robert Hicks’ book, The Widow of the South made the New York Times best seller list. Active in country music, Hicks brought several singer-songwriters to Nashville, including George Ducas. Hicks is a music publisher, art collector, entrepreneur and friend of many. Guitar pulls at his log cabin in the hills south of Nashville near Leiper’s Fork are legendary and have attracted a variety of musicians, like Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Guy Clark, Keith Richards, Leroy Troy, Doug and Linda Edell Howard and others. He’s on the board of directors of Carnton Plantation, the historic estate in Franklin, Tenn., where four generals lay dead during the Civil War. From Carnton’s history, Robert gleaned the idea for his marvelous book.

Scene and Heard
When the 27th annual Franklin Classic was held Labor Day in downtown Franklin, Tenn., Jo Dee Messina finished the 10K run in 1 hour, 3 minutes. At that rate, Jo Dee won’t be showing up late for a gig.

Sometimes Nashville resident Sheryl Crow is engaged to Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Did you know Sheryl grew up in Missouri next door to Lyric Street Records exec Doug Howard?

Little Jimmy and Mona Dickens, the Whites, Carl Smith, Tom T. and Dixie Hall and Jimmy C. and May Newman were among the guests who attended the wedding reception of radio and TV personality Keith Bilbrey and Emy Joe Bellenfant-Bellis in College Grove, Tenn.

After 15 years, Brooks & Dunn are grinning like possums because their single, “Play Something Country,” is No. 1 on the charts. It’s their 23rd chart-topper.

Darryl Worley and the Universal Music Group have parted ways. DreamWorks Records, the once wonderful boutique label that was Darryl’s label home, is shuttered. Tracy Lawrence moves over to Mercury and Hot Apple Pie to MCA.

Joe Nichols received a case of Patron Tequila’s platinum series as a thanks for the mention in his single, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” Somebody should sing, “My gas tank is on empty.”

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