HOT DISH: CMA Awards Slighting Hall of Fame Inductees

Vince Gill, Mel Tillis and Ralph Emery Should Get Recognition During Awards Show

(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 hosts CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith and shares her recipes at

What has got me so ticked off that I cannot sleep? The latest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame will not be spotlighted on this year’s CMA Awards show. Instead, three top-of-the-line honorees — Vince Gill, Mel Tillis and Ralph Emery — will be formally inducted during a private, invitation-only medallion ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

So it looks like the CMA Awards won’t be providing any television exposure for these three great men who have given so much to this business. Hey, if the TV show needs time, I’ve got a suggestion: Drop the Eagles’ performance. What qualifies the Eagles to perform on what is supposed to be country’s biggest night?

One of our biggest acts in country music is Rascal Flatts, and they’ve apparently gained the right to perform two songs on the CMA Awards. But is anybody else singing two songs? I don’t think so. Rascal Flatts will perform one of those songs with Jamie Foxx, a talented actor, comedian and musician who won an Oscar for his marvelous portrayal of Ray Charles in the movie, Ray. We claim Ray Charles as one of our own. We also have a lot of respect for Jamie Foxx’s talents, but does he have enough country music muscle to perform on the CMA Awards show when there’s apparently not enough time to honor the Hall of Fame inductees? Not in my book.

I don’t have enough time or space for to write about all the merits of Vince, Mel and Ralph. It’s only fair that I say Vince Gill is not only the most loved person in country music, he is also the most talented. Vince can play any instrument with strings, and he’s one of Music City’s finest songwriters and has the voice of an angel. He’s one of the all-time big CMA Award winners and served as host of the CMA Awards for a dozen years. And Vince is also one of the most charitable people in country music.

Mel Tillis, one of the funniest people on earth, made a career out of a stammer while telling stories about picking strawberries in Florida before he hit it big as a songwriter. Mel’s success came when he penned the classic “Detroit City” for Bobby Bare. He also wrote Kenny Rogers & the First Edition’s international hit, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” While recording and performing his many hits, he starred in the hit movie, W.W. & the Dixie Dancekings, with Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed and Don Williams. He also starred with Reynolds and Reed in Smokey and the Bandit II.

Country music fans tuned in daily to watch Ralph Emery on the highly-popular series, Nashville Now, on the old TNN (The Nashville Network). Ralph had a very successful radio and television career behind him when he stepped into the music and talk show that brought country music to a wider audience. Ralph began his climb in 1957 doing all-night radio at WSM and later hosted an early morning TV show in Nashville. He also hosted the syndicated music TV series, Pop Goes the Country, from 1974 until 1980.

If you think I’m the only one with ruffled feathers over this hurtful decision, you are wrong as rain. I’ve had calls and opinions from all across the nation, and everybody thinks Vince, Mel and Ralph are being slighted. They think Hall of Fame nominees deserve more respect than this.

“What are they thinking?” is the question I’m being asked.

“Lord knows, I don’t know what they are thinking — nor do I know who they are,” I reply. “But I don’t like it.”

More Garth News
Garth Brooks has joined forces with Susan G. Komen for Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, for the release of the “pink edition” of his new boxed set, The Ultimate Hits. It will be priced at $15 on the organization’s Web site, and $10 from each sale of the special edition will go to Komen and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. Garth’s CD will be released everywhere on Nov. 6.

On Nov. 14, Garth will play his final concert in a sold-out series of nine shows from the new Sprint Center in Kansas City. The last show will be simulcast to 300 movie theaters nationwide. Tickets are priced at $10 each. An encore presentation will be screened at the theaters on Nov. 15. Garth sold 159,779 tickets to the Sprint Center concerts in just one hour and 58 minutes.

I see where Toby Keith attended Sammy Hagar’s 60th birthday in Mexico last weekend, but Kenny Chesney did not go this year. Kenny did attend the ASCAP Awards along with Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, John Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Charlie Daniels, Chuck Wicks, Dierks Bentley, Keith Anderson, hostess Connie Bradley and almost 2,000 party goers, including Kenny Rogers, who was honored with the Golden Note Award. Writers of songs were honored during one of Music Town’s better events. Held at the Ryman Auditorium, guests were then were guided across the street to the BellSouth Building where partying continued into the night.

Is Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles dating Kenny Chesney’s guitar player, Clayton Mitchell? Rumor has it Clayton was seen getting on Jennifer’s bus in Winston Salem, N.C., at a Sugarland concert. Kenny wasn’t there.

I enjoyed having Trent Willmon in my kitchen for an upcoming episode of Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith. Trent will be doing some acting in a movie, Palo Pinto Gold, set for shooting in Texas in January. Both Roy Clark and Mel Tillis are also in the flick.

While taping the Southern Fried Flicks episode, the video crew told me they’d just returned from the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia, where 20,000 screaming fans turned out to see hometown boy Josh Turner. Josh, the newest Opry inductee, is releasing his third album, Everything Is Fine on Oct. 30. It features duets with Trisha Yearwood and R&B singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton.

A Final Note
If you pray, be sure and say a prayer for Joe Nichols, who has checked himself in substance abuse rehab center. Joe needs a different kind of healing than I did, but he’s just as sick. I love you, Joe.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Green Bean Casserole.