HOT DISH: Does Money Make the Man?

Sara Evans' Divorce Case Brings Up Thoughts of Sharing the Wealth

(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

When Sara Evans came to Music City from Missouri, she became the buzz of this town. It didn’t matter she was a tad hefty. When she sang — wow! The girl can flat sing. That night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville when Sara opened for George Jones has to be one of my all-time favorite concerts. The woman is blessed with a country voice that wails.

Even country music’s finest songwriter, the late Harlan Howard, thought Sara was tops. It was Harlan who took Sara to meet Renee Bell and Joe Galante at RCA Records. Sara got a record deal at RCA and a songwriter’s deal at Tree Publishing.

I considered Sara to be a friend of mine. I had her phone number, and we and sort of hung out. We’d hug when we’d meet, but she got busy with her career. And like all careers, if they’re worth their salt, they’re going to take off. And, boy, did Sara’s career take off.

Not only that, she married and gave birth — three times. Between birthing and later burping and diapering on the bus, Sara not only managed to co-write and record several hit songs, but she slimmed down to model proportions. Always pretty, Sara became drop-dead gorgeous.

Through the years when I’d see her at various events, my friend Sara and I had things to talk about, or so I always thought we did. That’s what friends are for. We’d put our heads together, and I would ask, “What does Craig do?” I knew her husband, Craig Schelske, was on the bus, but I could not for the life of me figure what his position was.

Sara would reply, “I’m not really sure what he does. He’s on the computer all time in the back of the bus, but I don’t know what he does. I really don’t.”

“You don’t look at what he writes?” I asked.

Sara shook her head, “no.”

“Does Craig make money?” I brazenly asked Sara once at one of those RCA parties. “Does Craig actually bring paychecks to the table like you do?”

“I honestly do not know,” Sara answered. “We put our money together. That way, I don’t know what Craig contributes.”

“I wish you’d find out,” I suggested.

In 2002, Schelske ran an unsuccessful campaign as a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress from Oregon, and I questioned her during her hubby’s big politico scenario. Around that time, she had opened shows for Reba and was all smiles as she spoke at rallies in support of Craig’s election. I’m positive Sara has no idea how much of HER money was spent during this lost election. (I capitalized “HER” on purpose.)

If you are thinking that this is none of my business, then you’re absolutely correct. And I haven’t talked to Sara about any of this since she and Schelske split up. But now that they’re going through what appears to be a bitter divorce, it’s almost more than I can bear to see a beautiful and talented woman like Sara have an ex who wants HER money — to the point of even having the audacity, according to the morning newspaper, to whine that she’s hiding money from him.

In court last week, Sara’s attorney told the judge that Schelske “hasn’t had a job since she signed with a record label.” As far as I know, that’s the case. I really don’t think he’s hit a tap at a snake since Sara got signed. What do you call that? Just wondering.

All this divorce business will cost a pretty penny. And, no doubt, lawyers will be paid by Sara because you cannot get blood out of a turnip — and you cannot get cash from a man who makes no money. Ain’t it a shame?

Here’s Some News
I read where Keith Urban flew down under to surprise his wife, Nicole Kidman on her 40th birthday. Love can be grand.

Johnny Rodriguez was recently arrested in Oklahoma on felony charges. Stopped for speeding, the singer had marijuana, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and an open can of beer in his truck.

Isn’t there a diaper company who wants to sponsor Cowboy Troy’s triplets? They must be so cute.

And More Flicks With Jamie O’Neal
My next Southern Fried Flicks on CMT features Jamie O’Neal, a woman I really respect. Do you remember when she quit touring after her baby was born? During our chat, she talked about her daughter quite a bit and about touring Iraq and singing for the servicemen and woman. Keep in mind, Jamie, an Australian native, was in harm’s way while she was entertaining troops. I respect her bigtime. You can watch Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith on Sunday (July 8) at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It’s the first show I taped after my cancer surgery. I’m glad to be back.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Baked Beans.