HOT DISH: Keith Urban Sells Out Shows While Wife Nicole Kidman Praises Music City

More News About Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and More

(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

Keith Urban closed out his 2009 Escape Together world tour with a Saturday night (Dec. 19) show in Brisbane, Australia, where those in the media are praising his sold-out concerts.

Keith’s beautiful wife, actress Nicole Kidman, spoke with reporters in her native Oz and told the guys and gals straight-up that she and Keith reside in Nashville, adding that they can go any place to shop, pump gas or have a sit-down meal without interruption by the paparazzi. “We love Nashville. That’s our home,” she gushed. Don’t you just love her?

By the way, Keith’s next concert isn’t scheduled until April 16 when he’ll be appearing at the Country Thunder festival in Florence, Ariz.

Tim ’n’ Faith
Faith Hill is the only artist in any musical genre to have two of the Top 10 most-played songs of the decade, according to Nielsen BDS, the company that monitors radio airplay. “Breathe” is at No. 4 and “The Way You Love Me” at No. 6. Faith says she was absolutely floored upon hearing this news. Both songs come from her Breathe album which sold more than 8 million copies. Faith is currently recording her seventh album of all-new music. She is a superstar.

Let’s mention Faith’s old man, hubby Tim McGraw, who co-stars with Sandra Bullock in the hit movie, The Blind Side. The film is still attracting huge crowds in theaters right now and raking in the big bucks. The movie’s true story that happened in West Tennessee may help people sit up and realize that, just maybe, the South is a much better place than some of the national media make us out to be.

Kix ’n’ Ronnie
Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn plan to retire Brooks & Dunn next year, but neither will be quitting show biz. In an interview with USA Today’s Brian Mansfield, both of them plainly said that the longer they worked together, the more difficult it became to agree on songs. And that ultimately caused them to decide to split up.

Ronnie said he was unwilling to compromise anymore on what he wanted. Both knew that was it — the end. The next day, both were still in agreement. But they had to decide how to officially split. Ronnie was ready to walk away and never look back, but Kix felt they owed it to the fans to let them know their plans well in advance. Fortunately for the fans, the guys will be playing their final shows together next year during the Last Rodeo tour. In the meantime, Kix is already busy with his syndicated radio show, American Country Countdown, and Ronnie is three-quarters through recording his first solo album.

The great thing is that they’re parting company with total respect for one another. Boy, wouldn’t it have been nice if the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Everly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, the Glaser Brothers, the Monroe Brothers and so many other bands and duos could have split up with some semblance of respect like Kix and Ronnie are doing. Brooks & Dunn — the most awarded duo ever in any genre of music.

Steve Wariner and His Million-Airs
BMI last week presented Steve Wariner with four new Million-Air awards for writing and publishing songs that have reached new performance levels. The awards recognize songs that have earned more than 1 million performances on U.S. radio and television. So far, 11 songs written by Steve have achieved the status to give him a total of 15 Million-Air awards. Three titles have reached multiple plateaus — Clint Black’s recording of “Nothin’ but the Taillights” (3 million) and Keith Urban’s “Where the Blacktop Ends” and Steve’s own hit, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” (2 million each).

Congratulations to Steve, a native of Noblesville, Ind., a good guy and a great guitar player. Check out his current album, a tribute to his hero, Chet Atkins.

I’ll Never Stop Loving George Jones
This past week, I went down to a studio on Music Row where I taped a tribute to George Jones and his incredible smash, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” for the Library of Congress. I was very proud to talk about the greatest singer who ever lived and the greatest country song ever sung. I was also proud to talk about my association with CMT. I hope a hundred years from now — when school kids are listening to the music chosen for this important project — everybody will understand the importance and power of our country singers, songwriters, musicians and producers.

News Worth Knowing
The two hottest Taylors on the planet — Taylor Swift and Twilight star Taylor Lautner — were seen eating the wonderful pancakes at Nashville’s Pancake Pantry late at night on her 20th birthday.

Brad Paisley’s American Saturday Night is ranked at No. 1 and Miranda Lambert’s Revolution at No. 4 on Time magazine’s list of the year’s Top 10 albums. It’s about time for Time to recognize my people.

Kenny Chesney is No. 3 on Pollstar’s list titled “Top North American Touring Acts of the Decade.” With a $434.4-million gross from ticket sales, he beat out the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. No other country act made the Top 10. Don’t spend all that money at one place, Kenny.

Rascal Flatts recently visited the young patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital in Nashville to help flip the switch to light up the Christmas tree on top of the hospital. While there, the trio sang for the kids and were interviewed by an 8-year-old girl.

Loretta Lynn is recovering at her home after getting the flu. The legendary singer had to cancel several appearances due to the illness. Get well soon, Loretta.

Thanks for all the Christmas cards! It was nice to see the season’s greetings from Alan Jackson, Charlie Daniels, Riders in the Sky, George and Nancy Jones and all the others.

And it is soooo good to see Garth Brooks being written about again in the entertainment section of nearly any newspaper and magazine you pick up. Sold-out shows in Las Vegas by a country singer wearing jeans, a hoodie and work boots. Merry Christmas, Garth and Trisha and to all you readers.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Good and Quick Chicken Wings.