HOT DISH: First Friends Expanding Their Musical Family

The Year Is Ending With Engagements, Marriages and Rumors of Marriages

(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

My first friends when I moved to Nashville were the Whites. Down through the years, I saw Buck give away each of his four daughters in marriage. Now the first granddaughter, Rachel White, daughter of Cheryl White, got engaged to Andy Leftwich, the mighty fine fiddle player in her Uncle Ricky Skaggs’ band, Kentucky Thunder. A summer wedding is in the making.

Congratulations to Garth and Trisha
When I interviewed him exclusively for this column, Garth Brooks told me he and Trisha Yearwood would get married when the builders finished their new house. I’m assuming the house is finished since Garth and Trisha were married on Dec. 10 at their Claremore, Okla., home. Best wishes and congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, but they will always be Garth and Trisha to me. God bless, and quoting the title of the wonderful book by the late Shel Silverstein, may they each be the other’s Missing Piece.

Wal-Mart announced platinum sales for Garth Brooks’ Limited Series boxed set. Let’s see, at $25 a box … and they sold a million boxes. I’m not worth a flip at ones and twos, but even I know that comes to $25 million. It takes a lot of zeroes to write that on a check! Wal-Mart says it’s the top-selling musical item in their history. Can you imagine?

More Urban Rumblings
Can two Australians live in the USA, make a blooming fortune in show biz and then marry in Fiji and have it be legal? Or, Lord, is it just rumors? Has actress Nicole Kidman set a January date to marry country superstar Keith Urban? Writers more famous than I am say yes. They say Nicole’s favorite vacation spot is the exclusive Wakaya Club in Fiji. Could this be the place where Ms. Oscar Winner wants to say the two words that make her Mrs. Urban? While there are suggestions that Nicole may be in the family way, I’m sure they haven’t done anything to cause that!

Music City Christmas
Parties have started. So far, I’ve attended two. First, the beautifully decorated estate of Fletcher Foster, senior vice president of marketing for Capitol Nashville, was wall to wall with guests dressed in their festive best. Capitol Nashville president Mike Dungan, just named the CMA’s president, was all smiles — and who could blame him? He’s the leader of the recently-named country record label of the year. Singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier arrived with her publisher, Melonie Howard, and award-winning songwriter Matraca Berg (“Strawberry Wine”) came with her hubby, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member Jeff Hanna. Others attending the party included good guy Clarence Spalding (who manages Brooks & Dunn and Terri Clark), record producer Garth Fundis, Bandit Records’ Evelyn Shriver, Susan Nadler and Michael Campbell, Midas Records’ Mike Martinovich and Stan Moress, RCA’s Wes Vause, CMA vice president Rick Murray and Ten Ten Music Publishing’s Barry Coburn. But what amused me at the party were the video producers from three coasts sucking up to Fletcher in his kitchen where I was holding court and eating sushi.

My second party was at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where guests were welcomed by the Hall’s director, Kyle Young. We were served a tasty sit-down dinner featuring a buffet of homemade desserts created by those of us who do cook. My banana pudding was a hit … not a bite left … but there were plenty of delicious cakes, pies, cookies and puddings. We had fun playing bingo and winning prizes. One person won a round trip to anywhere in the U.S. Southwest Airlines flies, another won cash, still another won a holiday weekend at a hotel for two. I won an Amy Grant gift package with autographed CDs, T-shirts, cap and photos. The band played, dancers danced … and I watched.

Sawyer Brown’s Bus Involved in Traffic Fatality
Sawyer Brown’s tour bus was involved in a Dec. 10 accident that claimed the life of Jessica A. Mossman, 24, of Auburn, Kan. Three members of the band were aboard the bus north of Topeka, Kan., when Mossman failed to yield while pulling out of an intersection. Mossman’s car ran into the bus and burst into flames. Mossman, the single mother of three, was not wearing a seat belt. Police reported none of the musicians were injured.

In a written statement, the members of Sawyer Brown said, “The accident was a horrible tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Jessica A. Mossman.”

Who, What and Where
Sugarland will perform as part of Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve on ABC-TV.

Jessi Colter, wife of the late Waylon Jennings and mother of Shooter Jennings, will release her first solo album in over 20 years. Produced by Don Was, the record features vocals by Waylon, Shooter and family friend Tony Joe White.

Trace Adkins’ year is ending like it began. His latest CD, Songs About Me, just went platinum. He began 2005 with the platinum certification of his chart-topper, Comin’ On Strong. Trace has had a great year and looks forward to his Honky Tonk Badonkadonk tour that kicks off in January.

Brad Paisley has been recording at the Castle in Franklin, Tenn., with longtime producer Frank Rogers. Frank is also producing Trent Willmon’s new project at the Castle. Maybe you want to know the Castle was once the home of the notorious Al Capone.

Trick Pony presented a check for $88,000 to the American Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Although they were on the road when the hurricane hit, Trick Pony raised money for the victims by contributing ticket proceeds and by accepting donations from fans at Graham Central Station clubs across the U.S.

Wonderful Craig Campbell with the Sony label tells me Miranda Lambert’s Christmas wish came true: Her debut album is gold.

Mark Wills, Craig Morgan and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are among those joining the USO’s Hope and Freedom Tour 2005 to visit the Persian Gulf.

Looking for help in raising money for the D.J. Hall of Fame, the Country Radio Broadcasters organization is running an auction at CMT Auctions. The most popular item is three pairs of tickets to the Country Radio Seminar’s Music City jam starring Keith Urban complete with meet and greet ticketing. Also up for bid are autographed guitars from Urban, Kenny Chesney, Montgomery Gentry, Alabama, Rascal Flatts and others. Other prizes being auctioned include tickets to the seminar’s New Faces show, jeans signed by Alan Jackson, a golf bag autographed by Vince Gill and a flyaway to see Gretchen Wilson and Van Zant in concert.

Midas Records, a new indie label, has signed Emerson Drive. Alabama’s Teddy Gentry and former Alabama producer Josh Leo are co-producing the group.

NASCAR fans know the great Richard Petty is attending, and country fans know the inimitable George Jones along with Montgomery Gentry will be there, too. Just announced is that 31-year old Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be in Nashville, too, during the big Sound and Speed motorsports celebration taking place Jan. 13-14 near the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Prior to her arrival at a book signing for Coming Home to Myself, Wynonna’s handlers requested Fiji water for the star. Nobody responsible for the book signing had ever head of Fiji water, so they went on a search. Finally, they found the Fiji, cooled it and placed a bottle on Wy’s signing table. She signed but never took the first sip of water.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Almost Stroganoff.