HOT DISH: Let’s Just Let Chris Cagle Sing

Singer's Revelation Is Not the End of the World or the End of His Career

(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

A couple of weeks ago, I’d heard the forthcoming baby that had been announced to be Chris Cagle’s was maybe not his. Once the child was born, there would be testing.

The results are sad to me. Chris had been ecstatic. At last, he’d have his own child, someone to love him. After posting a note on his Web site, his message was e-mailed as a media bulletin on Tuesday (Oct. 4):

“As many of you are aware, I had been anxiously awaiting the addition of a new baby to my life. The baby has been born, and both mother and child are in good health. Since the birth, however, we have discovered that, biologically, the child is not mine. As excited as I was about becoming a new father, my disappointment now is equally as strong. So out of respect for all that are involved, please allow this situation to remain private and know that I will not be commenting further on this very personal matter. I’m thanking you in advance for your kind cooperation and understanding.”

Fans and media, I saw and heard Chris perform last week, and he brought down the house. Fans were applauding and screaming. The man is a star. His third album, Anywhere but Here, is on the shelves. His co-written single, “Miss Me Baby,” is on the charts and climbing, and there’s a video. His first two albums are both certified gold, so he’s off to a great start.

This is an unpleasant announcement, but Lord knows, it’s not the end of the world. Nor is it the end of what’s already been a promising career. Let’s let Chris sing! OK?

ASCAP Will Honor Kenny Chesney
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers will present Kenny Chesney with the ASCAP Voice of Music Award during ceremonies at its 43rd annual country awards gala. The invitation-only event will be held Oct. 17 at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Only four others have previously received this award: Garth Brooks, George Strait, Diane Warren and Amy Grant.

Bentley and Paisley Are Superstars in the Making
Lining up for superstardom, Dierks Bentley’s Nov. 30 show at Joe’s Bar in Chicago sold out, so a second one was added for Dec. 1. He’s sounding good and looking better. His current single, “Come a Little Closer,” has jumped to No. 14 on the Billboard country chart, his first CD is platinum and the second is gold. Dierks and his companion, Jake the dog, recently moved from a houseboat into a real house with a mantle over the fireplace.

Also lining up for superstardom, Brad Paisley sold out four shows last weekend on the West Coast. Celebrities who turned out to see him at L.A.’s Gibson Theater included Gary Sinese, Michael Reagan, Heather Locklear and her hubby, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora. Hitting the stage for an encore, Paisley and Sambora played Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life” on dueling guitars to close the show to a standing ovation. Brad, the songwriter, scored a song for the Disney/Pixar movie, Cars, set for release next summer. His current single, “When I Get Where I’m Going,” features the great Dolly Parton on harmony vocals.

Jeff Bates: Marriage Counselor
I still do not understand why “Long Slow Kisses” by Jeff Bates was not a No. 1 single for a month or two. As it turns out, I am not the Lone Ranger.

“Come here,” commanded a 6-foot-5-inch Texan to Bates. Easing toward the rough-looking dude, Jeff stopped shaking once he heard the man’s story.

“You saved my marriage,” the big cowboy uttered. After hearing “Long Slow Kisses,” he told Jeff he realized he hadn’t been treating his wife as he should. So he phoned to tell her to take off from work the rest of the day and come home. When she arrived, he ran her a bubble bath, lit some candles, cranked up “Long Slow Kisses” on the stereo and said, “This is how I feel about you.”

That’s what country music is about, and Hollywood doesn’t have a clue.

Rivers to Cross
I cannot express how unthrilled and underwhelmed I am to learn Joan and Melissa Rivers will work the red carpet for their employer, TV Guide, for two hours prior to the CMA Awards in New York on Nov. 15. Listen, I’ve watched those chicks fumble for names at award shows before. They don’t know the names of their own people — actors, actresses and pop singers — much less country stars.

I do not want them looking down their long noses — mistreating my people. And afterwards, no making fun of how the country artists talk, how they walk, how they sing or how they dress. I still remember Joan Rivers making snide, ugly remarks about a dress Loretta Lynn wore on TV. I hate it when country music royalty is disrespected.

News & More News
Lee Ann Womack and Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell will co-host the Broadway Meets Country event set for Nov. 12 in New York. Proceeds benefit the Actors Fund of America and the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Trisha Yearwood, Trace Adkins, Glen Campbell, Raul Malo, Jamie O’Neal are a few of the many performers scheduled to appear.

Hot Miranda Lambert set to tour with the George Strait beginning in January. Tracy Lawrence is also scheduled for the tour.

Billy Joe Shaver did not marry the nurse he originally said he was going to marry. Instead, he married another nurse — Wanda Lynn Canady — in Corsicana, Texas.

Montgomery Gentry now have their first multi-week No. 1 single after “Something to Be Proud Of” hit the top of the country chart for a second week.

The wonderful Diamond Rio have once again partnered with Arby’s to launch its annual drive for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Tennessee. On Oct. 16 at Nashville’s Music City Motorplex, legendary NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip will serve as grand marshal of the 25-lap Diamond Rio All Star Shootout featuring NASCAR drivers Sterling Marlin, Chad Chaffin, Bobby Hamilton Sr. and Bobby Hamilton Jr. On Oct. 17, the band will host its annual tournament at the Hermitage Golf Course. These are good guys working for a great cause.

I finally heard from Mark Chesnutt and his family through his manager. Before Hurricane Rita hit, the Chesnutts evacuated their home in Beaumont, Texas. Traveling in eight vehicles, the family — Mark’s mother, mother-in-law, father-in-law and all their kin — stayed together in Dallas for a few days. Mark’s home, located west of Beaumont, escaped serious damage. He and his family are staying at a friend’s house in Dallas until power, water and sewage services are restored in Beaumont.

Congratulations to Tracy Byrd who was surprised while performing at the recent Bayfest in Corpus Christi, Texas, when he learned he is being inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Just as he played the down chord on “Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got,” Tracy got the big news.

Doug Stone began serving a six-month sentence on Sept. 28 at the Robertson County jail north of Nashville after a judge found him guilty of criminal and civil contempt of court. According to reports, the 49-year-old Stone refused to sign an authorization for release of financial records in an alimony and child support case. Stone got his break in country music in 1990 with the Top 5 hit, “I’d Be Better Off (In a Pine Box).”

Willie Nelson says, “You know why divorces are so expensive? They’re worth it.”

Last week, I sort of made fun of Kix Brooks playing golf in Verona, N.Y., with pros like Arnold Palmer, John Daly and Natalie Gulbis. Well, the joke is on me. Kix kicks! He won the game and now claims he doesn’t know how he did it. Don’t you hit a little white ball with a funny shaped bat?

Lyric Street Records has announced its partnership with Anderson Merchandisers to promote the Garth Brooks/Wal-Mart single to radio. “Good Ride Cowboy” is Garth’s tribute to his hero, the late Chris LeDoux.

Wearing jeans and a striped shirt, Faith Hill arrived early to celebrate her No. 1 single at a party honoring one of its writers, John Rich of Big & Rich. Others attending the party at ASCAP included Rich’s singing partner, Big Kenny, and Adam Schoenfeld, the song’s co-writer who happens to be Big & Rich’s guitar player. It took ASCAP queen Connie Bradley about five minutes to name a list of current songs on the chart written by Rich. He’s now a rich boy getting richer.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Sloppy Joes.