HOT DISH: Taylor Swift Makes Chart History, Grabs Headlines

More News About Toby Keith, Alison Krauss, Kellie Pickler, Chuck Wicks and Others

(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 CMT.com.)

Taylor Swift was just 3 years old when Billboard began compiling its singles charts with data from Nielsen BDS, a company that monitors radio airplay. She’s now 19, and her name is in the headlines about as often these days as Obama’s economic stimulus package.

Taylor is providing lots of her own economic stimulus to the music industry while making a little history along the way. When “Love Story,” a song she wrote, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100, it became the first single in the history of Nielsen BDS to hit the top mark on the pop chart after crossing over from country. Like Babe Ruth hit home runs and Michael Jordan made baskets, Taylor has made chart history.

That Taylor is really amazing. “Love Story” has sold more digital downloads than any country song in history, and she’s now in the country Top 10 with her latest single, “White Horse.”

By the way, Verizon Wireless has partnered with Taylor for a nationwide contest that runs through March 23. High school students with Verizon service can send a text message to show their support of Taylor. The school with the most entries will win the opportunity to host a free concert from Taylor at their school. So don’t be surprised if Taylor makes some local history somewhere this year, too.

Toby Keith Continues His Long String of No. 1 Singles
“God Love Her” is the 25th single that Toby Keith has taken to No. 1 on various country charts. With food, clothing, performing and movies on his plate, don’t think for a moment that Toby would ever forget that his top priorities are still songwriting and singing — in that order. With that many No. 1 singles under his belt, my guess is that he’s already trying for his 26th chart-topper.

Alison Krauss, Robert Plant Increase Rounder’s Sales Numbers
Following their five wins at the recent Grammy Awards , Alison Krauss and Robert Plant enjoyed sales of 77,000 copies of their Raising Sand album in a single week. Has Rounder Records, an independent record label, ever sold that many albums in one week? I doubt it, but I do want to congratulate the wonderful Alison, Robert and their producer T Bone Burnett for their good luck and great talent.

Now, if radio stations will get wise and start playing Alison’s music, the whole world can enjoy her work. I’ll bet you that Rounder’s Ken Irwin is pulling his beard and pulling it again. Lord knows, he hasn’t been making that kind of money in the past.

Kellie Pickler Shoots New Video
One of my very favorite singers, Kellie Pickler, has shot a new video for “Best Days of Your Life.” What started out as a rant to her pal, Taylor Swift, about an ex-boyfriend turned into a therapeutic songwriting session that produced the song. “This song is about one particular guy, but I’m dedicating this video to all the bad boys out there — and you know who you are,” Kellie laughed.

Kellie will be opening shows on Taylor’s upcoming tour and will perform Friday (March 6) during the New Faces show at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. This year’s New Faces lineup is particularly strong. In addition to Kellie, it will feature Lady Antebellum, James Otto, Chuck Wicks and the Zac Brown Band.

Buddy Miller Is Everybody’s Buddy
No two ways about it, Buddy Miller is everybody’s buddy. Buddy, who had a key role in the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss tour, had just performed with them on the Grammy Awards show before packing his clothes and hitting the road again with Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris and Shawn Colvin on their 3 Girls & Their Buddy tour. They had finished a show in Baltimore when Buddy, 56, began having chest pains. Doctors took him right into the hospital and performed triple-bypass surgery on his heart.

Sending thoughts and prayers from all of us at CMT to the much-loved and much-needed Buddy Miller. God bless you, and get well soon!

Martina McBride Sings at the White House
My friend Kevin loves his wife and three daughters more than he loves Martina McBride, but he’d rather hear Martina sing than his family of females. Kevin was very impressed when I told him Martina was singing for President Obama last week at the White House during a PBS television taping honoring Stevie Wonder, this year’s recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Music. No, Martina did not lip-sync. She doesn’t have to. Martina can sing.

Chuck Wicks Aligns With Dr Pepper
Chuck Wicks has signed a year-long sponsorship deal with Dr Pepper. The lucky Chuck will be featured online and in the soft drink company’s in-store promotion materials at major retailers. Dr Pepper will bring him to select retail locations for album signings and performances. Chuck, a celebrity cast member on the new season of Dancing With the Stars, spent most of last year opening concerts for Brad Paisley.

More News
Billy Currington had a two-party day to celebrate his latest hit single, “Don’t.” The parties at ASCAP and BMI on Nashville’s Music Row honored songwriters Jonathan Singleton and Jim Beavers .

Sugarland will embark on their first European tour this month. Traveling to seven nations, they will perform in 11 different cities. Holly Williams, daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and granddaughter of Hank Williams, will open selected shows.

I see where the wonderful Karastan upscale carpeting firm has partnered with Jewel for its “Make a Statement” ad campaign.

Recipe Is a Hit With Reader
Imagine my surprise recently after I included my New England clam chowder recipe with my column and received a message from my e-mail pal, Matt, who works for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Matt was hungry for some chowder, so he made it, ate it and said it hit the spot! Thanks for reading me, Matt. Kenny Chesney reads me, too. All the smart young girls and cool young guys do.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Fruity Surprise Salad.