HOT DISH: Garth Makes Waves; Nicole Talks; Dolly Sings

Dwight Salutes Buck; Faith Has Hits; Skaggs Has Salt ...

(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

No two ways about it, Garth has still got it! With 36.3 million impressions. Wow. Talk about an exciting day after Labor Day. The news reached Music Row on Tuesday (Sept. 4). For the first time in the Billboard singles chart history, Garth Brooks’ record, “More Than a Memory,” debuted at No. 1. Etched in stone — hillbilly history. What Garth has achieved will go down in the annals of country music giving others something to strive for.

Garth didn’t take time off from parenting. He drove the girls to school every morning, flew to Music Town, recorded, flew back to Oklahoma and picked them up from school in the afternoon and drove them home. He did what he told his fans and this town what he would do — he parented.

Music Row knew it would be a big week. They talked about it and agreed it would be huge. But No. 1? That had never been done. Those who felt just so-so about Garth and his past music had to admit “More Than a Memory” was a real home run, a smash, a killer, his best and unforgettable…

One thing that’s been proven with this song is that radio still loves Garth and his music, and the second thing is Garth still has tons of fans across this country. He is the biggest star country music has ever known and maybe will ever know. Let’s keep it country by raising a filled wine glass toast from Kix Brooks’ brand new vineyard.

Nicole and Keith
Nicole Kidman told Vanity Fair that when she was married to Tom Cruise she lost a baby when she was 23. Following the miscarriage, they adopted a daughter, Bella, now 14 and two years later, they adopted a son, Connor. Nicole told the magazine she’d wanted a child of her own since she was 17.

The 40-year-old actress adds she’s still yearning to have a child. She says she would be sad if she couldn’t have one. She adds husband Keith Urban knows she wants a baby and he’s getting there slowly.

Of their first meeting, Nicole says, “I would probably say two very lonely people met at a time they could open up to each other; a mixture of frightened and brave.” She adds that they’ve come through the trauma of Keith’s alcohol and drug addiction and his four months in rehab. “We were in a very, very, very bad painful place and have managed to step through it.”

Dolly Parton’s single, “Better Get to Livin,” is at radio. She will sing the song on the debut of this year’s Dancing With the Stars on Sept. 26. Marie Osmond is one of the dancers this year.

Dwight Sings Buck
Dwight Yoakam has been one of my favorites since his first album. I promise his new record, a tribute to his hero, Buck Owens, will make you smile, make you laugh and make you cry. Dwight wraps his vocals around each and every word like arms around a lover. He was wrapping the words around the man’s lyrics and encouraged him to go back onstage and play music again when Buck had quit. Four days before Buck’s death, the twosome talked four hours on the phone. “Buck was so alive,” remembered Dwight.

“After his death, it was the clearest way I could express my love for him and acknowledge the depth of our friendship,” is the reason why Dwight decided to record an album of Buck Owens songs. Dwight never recorded a Buck song when he was alive (except for their duet on “Streets of Bakersfield”).

“Close Up the Honky Tonks” is the single. Play it, radio. Let ’em hear the soulfulness of a natural born Kentucky hillbilly named Yoakam.

Faith’s Red Umbrella
Retelling the excitement at WFMS Indianapolis recently is hard to put on paper. Just let me say this is my 14th year with the station, and I’ve never been met with this kind of morning. “Faith Hill is coming to the studio,” they exclaimed. “She hasn’t been to a radio station in over 10 years,” they explained. I knew Faith had unveiled her new single, “Red Umbrella,” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and I knew The Hits CD would be released Oct. 2.

Faith hasn’t just thrown a bunch of No. 1’s on a tape and released the project. The CD contains different versions of the original hits. The 15-song album has favorites like “Wild One,” “It Matters to Me” and “Let Me Let Go” which happens to be Faith’s favorite. She pointed out that she doesn’t call her greatest hits the end of a chapter. Not wanting to close the chapter, she calls it an interlude. Is it any wonder we call her the great Faith Hill?

CMA Noms
Speaking of Faith brings to my mind the CMA nominations. Once again the McGraws — Faith Hill and Tim McGraw — have been overlooked by the CMA and so has Toby Keith. There’s lots of bellyaching going on over this. It’s the fault of the voters, us, the CMA members.

If there is bloc voting like is being said, then Tim on Curb Records and Faith on Warner Bros. Records should have a chance. But Toby on Show Dog, his own label, does not have enough employees to vote and compete with the majors. For two years, Tim and Faith have had a very successful tour. Successful enough one might think they’d be included as entertainer of the year. But the voting is over, the finals are etched and it did not happen.

This year’s BMI Awards may again speak volumes on behalf of Toby. At last year’s BMI Awards, Toby pulled me over to the side and pointed out his song was the most performed of the year but it wasn’t mentioned in the CMA listing. Will it be déjà vu 2007? It may not be wrong, but it sure don’t seem right.

Salt of the Earth
Ricky Skaggs & the Whites have a new gospel CD titled Salt of the Earth that is surely worth mentioning. The song that really caught my ears was Buck White’s version of the song Roy Acuff brought to fame, “Wreck on the Highway.” Buck’s emotion and soulfulness on the song equals Roy’s. Also the girls do a killer version of Wilma Lee & Stony Cooper’s “Big Wheel.” This music is the salt of the earth. So are the singers.

Carolina Boys Announce
Jason Michael Carroll from Garner, N.C. and Bucky Covington from Rockingham, N.C., are teaming up to co-headline a 20-city bar-to-bar tour. Debuting in Corpus Christi, Texas, at Concrete Amphitheater on Oct. 25, they will make a pit stop at the Wildhorse Saloon in Music Town on Nov. 17, ending the tour in Baltimore on Dec. 8 at Rams Head Live! Cole Deggs & the Lonesome are the opening act for the Raisin’ the Bar tour.

Bits & Pieces
By the time you read this, Joe Nichols will be a married man. He and his love wed in Savannah, Ga., simply because they think it’s a pretty town.

Trisha Yearwood and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds taped a CMT Crossroads, singing each other’s songs together.

Reba taped Oprah with guests Justin Timberlake and Kelly Clarkson. Sounds good and country.

Jack Ingram performed two songs on his last concert with Brad Paisley’s Bonfires & Amplifiers tour from a cage, thanks to jokester Paisley.

Billy Ray Cyrus set to perform his single “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” on ABC-TV’s Dancing With the Stars on Oct. 9.

College football fan and Appalachian State alum Eric Church had his bus parked at an Applebee’s restaurant next door to his hotel when the Mountaineers blocked the Michigan field goal attempt and won the game. Church bolted from the bus and ran around the parking lot screaming like a redneck banshee. Sorry, Applebee’s diners.

Supergroup Diamond Rio signed with Word Records and are set to debut A Diamond Rio Christmas: The Star Still Shines. Their first holiday project will be released Oct. 9. I’ve always really liked this group who play their own instruments in the studio and have retained original members.

Sammy Kershaw makes it legal. He traveled to Louisiana and filed to run for lieutenant governor, and wife Lorrie Morgan’s ex-boyfriend, Fred Thompson, throwing his hat into the presidential ring, said on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, “I’m in.”

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Cheese Squares.