HOT DISH: Alan Jackson Makes Music a Family Affair

Steve Holy Calls to Explain His Side of Indianapolis Story

(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

Through the years when I’d talk with Alan Jackson, he’d always tell me his mama wanted him to record a gospel album. When he recorded Precious Memories, he did it for her. It was a Christmas gift for his mama Ruth and also for wife Denise’s mama Nell. However, the nice present turned out to be a platinum selling record.

Growing up with three sisters, Alan has been surrounded by women all his life, so he seemed right at home onstage Tuesday (Aug. 29) in Nashville with wife Denise, daughters Mattie, Ali and Dani, along with Ruth and Nell, during a party celebrating the album’s success. Alan revealed it was Denise who went through the Broadman Hymnal with him to choose songs for the project. It was a teary Denise who gave thanks to the mamas for raising them in church.

And it was Sony BMG exec Joe Galante who heard mama’s present, knew it was more than a gift for Christmas and talked Jackson into releasing the music. Alan is glad he did. Galante hosted the event in the historic chapel area of the Sony BMG building. There were multiple presentations, including a $100,000 check each to Ruth and Nell to be presented to the charities of their choice. Of course, I was the only woman outside the immediate family who got a hug from Alan.

I shared a note with Alan that I’d received from Jean Hurt from Beech Grove, Ind., who lost her mom a few weeks ago. She wrote how she’d bought Precious Memories the day it was released and how she and her mom loved the record so much. Jean had it played at her mom’s viewing and the beginning of her service. Jean said Alan’s music took her through many sleepless nights during the last few months of her mom’s life.

It didn’t surprise me last week when the CMA nominations were announced and included Precious Memories in the running for album of the year. The whole world needs to hear Alan’s fine record.

Steve Holy Calls From Texas
If you read last week’s column about some of the artists who recently performed in Indianapolis, then please read this item.

Steve Holy called me from his home in Dallas because he wanted to explain his side of the story regarding what happened at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. He declared he has never been rude to a fan in his life, but he admits that things weren’t going smoothly the day he performed at the fair.

On the way to the concert, his driver had gotten into 45 minutes of snarled traffic leading into the fairgrounds, Steve told me. When they finally arrived, he said he had 10 minutes to get inside the gates for a television interview. Steve said he and the driver tried their best to explain who they were and the situation they were in, but the security guard would not listen.

“Maybe I did use a curse word,” admitted Steve. “I know I got out of the van and told the guy, ’You’re here to help, not hinder.’ I just wanted to get inside the gate and past the security person who was holding us up. Once out of the van, I ran.”

As for the soundman at the concert, Steve said he could not hear anything through the onstage monitor speakers. Motioning to the sound guy did not help. Finally, during the third song of his show, Steve ran over to the side of the stage and yelled to the sound guy that he could not hear and told him to please turn up the volume on the monitors.

I listened to Steve’s side of the story, and I believe him. He wants his career to happen big time — and so do I. Are there any among us who haven’t been delayed by a traffic jam?

Steve’s latest single, “Brand New Girlfriend,” has climbed to No. 2 on this week’s country chart.

John Michael Montgomery’s Plea Bargain
I see where John Michael Montgomery struck a deal to settle his drunken driving arrest in February in Lexington, Ky. According to Montgomery’s attorney, the singer and prosecutors reached the agreement as part of a legal procedure known as an Alford plea. In short, it means the 41-year-old Montgomery did not admit guilt but acknowledged there was enough evidence to prosecute.

John Michael chose not to go through a high-profile trial and wanted to do what he thought would be best for his family. The Kentucky native will pay $663.50 in fines and court costs and was ordered to attend an alcohol education program. Once he completes the program, his driver’s license will be reinstated. Prosecutors dropped other charges of carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a prescription in the wrong container.

Reported at Tootsie’s
According to Nashville’s daily newspaper, The Tennessean, actor-singer John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Sex in the City) got a little too big for his britches recently at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in downtown Nashville. According to three ladies, Corbett, who is trying his hand at songwriting, singing and recording, well, got a little out of line. After he and his band did a spur-of-the-moment performance at the club, the musicians were chatting with the girls when Corbett reportedly knocked a beer out of one of the girl’s hand and then said, “Oops,” and walked away. According to the story, he then elbowed another girl in the head and never even apologized. The lack of an apology ticked off the first gal, so she called Corbett a jerk. Corbett began spinning around holding his arms out, yelling, “Don’t hate the music! Don’t hate the music!” About that time, some other girls — unaware of the previous ruckus — walked over to Corbett in hopes of having their photo taken with him, but he yelled, “Mel Gibson is off today. Leave me alone.”

Here and There
Returning from QVC, where I sold 3,900-plus copies of my cookbook, my rep Mindy and I ran into her cousin at the Philly airport. “Guess who sat by me on the plane coming from Nashville?” he gushed. Flipping open his phone, he showed us a photo of a sleeping Ricky Skaggs. I just hee-hawed.

The Wreckers’ “Leave the Pieces” is the first debut single by a female duo to top the country chart since the Davis Sisters’ 1953 hit, “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know.” The Davis Sisters’ song stayed at No. 1 for eight weeks and is an all-time classic.

The Cowboy is headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame! The incredible George Strait, legendary musician Harold Bradley and the Southern Gentleman — Sonny James — are the newest members named to the Hall of Fame. It’s time to reach back, play catch-up again and look at others deserving the honor, including Barbara Mandrell, the Statler Brothers, Reba McEntire and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Does anybody have any pull with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Since they changed radio formats at KZLA, we need a country radio station in Los Angeles. Lord knows, they need songs that scream the truth in that town. The folks in beautiful San Diego also inform me they want a Tim and Faith concert.

It looks like the film documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing may be released worldwide about the time of the November elections in the U.S. Lordy, don’t tell the televangelists!

Steve Earle and Rosanne Cash recently taped a CMT Crossroads special in New York City, where both former Nashvillians now reside. The program premieres Sept. 15.

For 15 years, Alabama wanted to record a gospel album but never got around to it until now. The group retired from touring, but they’ve recorded Alabama — Songs of Inspiration, set to hit the stores Oct. 24.

Jack Ingram recently fulfilled a lifetime dream when he recorded with his idol, Willie Nelson. The two Texans collaborated on the Roger Miller hit “Dang Me.” Featuring several artists, the CD of duets will be sold exclusively at Cracker Barrel restaurants.

A huge Kenny Chesney party is coming up in the middle of September. I just can’t wait.

Busy, busy. My new TV outing for CMT is called Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith. (That’s me!) The show debuts Oct. 1, and all smart fans of country music will tune in.

“Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Lower Broadway will never be the same,” exclaimed Hank Williams Jr., following a recent night of partying with a famous couple — Kid Rock and his new bride, Pamela Anderson. The Kid and Pamela had tied the knot the night before at Tootsie’s, a few days before in Burbank and Detroit and a week or so earlier on some exotic island. When Hank got back in town, it was their time to howl. The party began at Kid’s Nashville digs then they moseyed downtown. The wild twosome stayed onstage an hour at Tootsie’s with the club’s regular performer, John Stone.

Steven Tyler from Aerosmith hung out backstage with Joe Nichols in Boston where he was opening a show for Toby Keith. Joe also had a visit from Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett. Later, Joe and Josh enjoyed a guitar pull on Joe’s bus. Is this the same Josh that recently checked out Danielle Peck?

See this week’s Hot Dish Recipe of the Week: Four-Layer Dessert.