HOT DISH: Garth Brooks Delivering Holiday Gift to Nashville

More News About Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Billy Ray Cyrus 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

Did you hear about Garth Brooks’ holiday present to Nashville?

With his wife, Trisha Yearwood, by his side at the Tennessee State Capitol last week, Garth announced he and Trisha will perform at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 17 to benefit the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the nonprofit organization that’s done such an incredible job helping those affected by the floods that hit Music City in May. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean were among the government officials joining Garth at the press conference.

Although Garth has been packing ’em in at the Encore Theater at the Wynn resort and casino in Las Vegas for his solo acoustic performances, his Nashville show will be a full-blown concert with his entire band. Expect Garth to play additional shows in Nashville if there’s a demand. And there will be.

“If you come to Vegas, you’ll see me and a guitar,” he says. “If you come to Tennessee, you’ll see me and a band.”

Thanks, Garth, for pitching in once again to help.

Taylor Swift Grabs More Attention With New Album
At the time I write this, I still don’t know what the first-week sales numbers are for Taylor Swift’s new album, Speak Now, but I think the total is going to be bigger than anybody imagined.

Will the 20-year-old blonde surpass 1 million in sales during the first week? I heard she’d already sold more than 700,000 by the end of last week, so I won’t be surprised if she hits that magic number. And the reason I won’t be surprised is because those in their teens and twenties love her, and their mamas and daddies don’t mind if the youngsters buy her music. Taylor’s music is safe. There’s no boozing, drugging or stealing in the girl’s vernacular.

Taylor is singing better and is more and more looking like the classic star she’s growing up to be. She’s a blessing to the entire music business, especially those of us in Nashville. Not only has her talent virtually created a record label, Big Machine Records, she has kept this town on the music map during tough economic times. To you naysayers, she is the real deal. Smart people respect this girl who is becoming a woman in front of our eyes. Read her lyrics!

The Billy Ray Cyrus Divorce
Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus should have remained in Tennessee. Sure they have money and a very famous daughter in Miley Cyrus, but that’s not enough to prevent a divorce. Those “irreconcilable differences” that everybody in Hollywood blames for their marital woes is what the Cyrus couple say is their problem.

Listen, those two Kentucky hill country people are better than that. They’ve been poor but proud and they loved. Now every time you turn on the TV, there’s a Cyrus looking too Hollywood for my taste. It’s a crying shame for Billy Ray and Tish to have to face a divorce after 17 years of marriage and a house full of beautiful kids. What I think they need is to read some Proverbs and, while the book’s open, maybe turn to Chronicles and read the short but wonderful prayer of Jabez. It works for me.

Blake Shelton’s Latest Accomplishments
Leave it to Blake Shelton for his very first headlining show in Los Angeles to last all night long! Yep, Blake threw an all-nighter at Club Nokia with the sold-out crowd singing along to every song. Kelly Clarkson showed up, as did Chelsea Handler and the girl who calls Blake her “financy.” Yep, Miranda Lambert was on hand and looking great.

Back in Nashville, Trace Adkins was onstage to assist during Blake’s induction as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Both men wore their country music finest and shined like new money when they performed their No. 1 single, “Hillbilly Bone.”

Kellie Pickler Meets Clint Eastwood
During a recent visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Kellie Pickler met the man of her dreams — Clint Eastwood. Before he made his appearance, Kellie admitted to Ellen that she pretty much adores the star. She added that every time she’s in L.A., she goes to his office, but they won’t let her in.

When Eastwood stepped onstage, a shocked Kellie screamed to high heavens before hugging Clint, sitting on his lap and placing his hand on her chest so he could feel how fast her heartbeat was. (Lordy, Kellie. That trick is as old as Christmas.)

The Men Behind Sea Gayle Music
Everywhere I look, I see people congratulating Sea Gayle Music for being named ASCAP’s publisher of the year. This privately-owned business does not have the New York/Los Angeles muscle behind it. The little company is owned by Chris DuBois, Frank Rogers and Brad Paisley, three grads from Belmont University who dreamed of doing big things. By the grace of God, talent and hard work, it came true for them.

The threesome opened Sea Gayle in 1999. Chris, a songwriter who has had a hand in writing several of Brad’s biggest hits, is general manager of the company. Chris also serves as executive producer of some of Paisley’s records.

Frank’s songwriting credits include hits for Brad and Darius Rucker. He began producing Brad’s recordings when they were still in college. In addition to his success with Brad’s many hits, he’s also produced records for Darius, Trace Adkins and Josh Turner.

Last year, Brad, Chris and Frank formed Sea Gayle Records in partnership with Sony Music. The first artist they signed was Jerrod Niemann, who hit No. 1 in August with his debut single, “Lover, Lover.”

With his two partners, Brad knows he’s working with good, dependable, hardworking men. It makes me awfully proud to see that this little publishing company has accomplished so much in just 11 years. It just goes to show what can happen when people are willing to work together for the good of all involved. I am so proud of them.

Bobby Braddock at National Press Club Dinner
One of our most prolific songwriters, the great Bobby Braddock, made a special appearance at the National Press Club’s annual Fourth Estate Award dinner in Washington, D.C., to honor veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer for his lifetime contribution to American journalism.

It was appropriate that Schieffer, a native Texan and avid country music fan, would choose country music as the theme for the event which featured songs from Braddock’s catalog, including “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

More News
If you’re in Washington, D.C., do something totally patriotic. Go to the Smithsonian Institution and take a look at the “Americans Now” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Our favorite all-American, Willie Nelson, is featured in a black-and-white portrait taken in 1999 by photographer Michael O’Brien. It would be a mortal sin if anyone omitted Willie from a list of important Americans.

Jewel has signed to host a music competition series, tentatively titled Going Platinum, on the Bravo network in 2011. Twelve singer-songwriters vying for the top prize will be living together. The winner will receive a $100,000 cash prize.

Good-hearted and good-looking Joe Nichols stopped in Knoxville, Tenn., recently to perform a benefit concert for Horse Haven, a charity that rescues abused and neglected horses.

Instead of a red one, expect a black carpet at this year’s CMA Awards . That’s because it’s sponsored by Jack Daniel’s, one of Tennessee’s most famous products.

The Musician’s Hall of Fame exhibit hit the road and was a big hit at the Big E Fair in West Springfield, Mass. Museum director Joe Chambers went along with all the treasures and allowed Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to hold a 1967 Fender Stratocaster guitar owned by Jimi Hendrix. The 1963 Fender Esquire that Luther Perkins played during his tenure in Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Two was also on display, along with one of Cash’s guitars.

Laura Bell Bundy recently made her second appearance on the CBS sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. She loves being on the show. She says the writers, producers, director and cast are all amazing.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1651145″]Spanish Rice.[/news]