HOT DISH: News About Kristin Chenoweth, Dolly Parton and More

Taylor Swift, Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow Are Also in the Headlines

(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

Kristin Chenoweth and Dolly Parton are two singers who have been featured on the cover of Guideposts magazine. The recent article on Kristin Chenoweth revealed that the singer has an ailment, Meniere’s disease, which is an inner-ear disturbance. She limits salt in her diet, sleeps on an incline and takes anti-nausea medication. It’s a brain-churning, room-spinning, think-you’re-gonna-die problem. But she continues to perform.

“This is my cross to bear,” she says.

Speaking of Dolly, the East Tennessee girl raked in around $3 million during her recent concert in London. I heard that some idiot — perhaps I should say stupid idiot — told the wonderful Dolly that no one would want to see her anymore since she’s now 65. I’ll bet that person, who will go unnamed, was lucky to generate $3 — much less $3 million — that night.

Taylor Gets Some A-List Help at Nashville Shows
Taylor Swift trotted out some of her A-list friends during her recent concerts in Nashville. She sang “Bleed Red” with Ronnie Dunn, “Big Star” with Kenny Chesney and “Just to See You Smile” with Tim McGraw.

All of this happened during her two-night stand at Bridgestone Arena. And, yes, the girl sold out both shows.

Vince Still Devoted to the Music
I’ve never heard anybody say, “Vince Gill makes me so mad.” He’s always shown kindness and generosity in a town filled with self-centered people trying to grab attention with stunts that scream, “Look at me!”

His new album, Guitar Slinger, comes out on Oct. 25. It’s the last record on his MCA Nashville contract, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is over.

Fans of great acoustic and bluegrass music know about the Station Inn, the small club that’s been popular for years but is now overshadowed by restaurants, stores and high-rise condos in the Gulch area near downtown Nashville. And music fans also know if Vince is in town, he’ll join his pals in the Time Jumpers during their Monday night Western swing shows at the club.

“Is Vince coming tonight or not?” people ask at the Station Inn’s entrance. Nobody knows but the musicians, and the audience would love to see him mosey in, unannounced. But they know there won’t be a sign outside that reads, “Vince Gill Tonight.”

Sheryl Crow’s Upscale Ride Benefits Her Home State
The couple who bought the Mercedes that Sheryl Crow donated to benefit the schools in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., have provided $130,000 to the local disaster relief efforts. The top bid for Sheryl’s 1959 Mercedes convertible was $143,000. The auction company kept $13,000 in fees, and the remaining money went to Joplin schools. The couple who bought the car wanted to remain anonymous.

Crow, a Missouri native, now makes her home south of Nashville.

Thompson Square Getting Into Holiday Spirit
Thompson Square’s Keifer and Shawna Thompson are already in the holiday spirit. The couple recently signed on as the celebrity guests for the 2011 Santa Train which will make 14 stops throughout Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee on Nov. 19. The duo will join Santa Claus and volunteers to help deliver 15 tons of toys to thousands of residents who live along the route from Shelby, Ky., to Kingsport, Tenn.

ACM Honors Recap
Garth Brooks was unable to attend last week’s ACM Honors ceremony in Nashville because he was with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, as she celebrated her birthday at their home in Oklahoma. But Garth is the latest recipient of the Academy of Country Music’s Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award for his contributions in extending awareness and acceptance of country music.

Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers were at the Ryman Auditorium to perform and accept their Pioneer Award. Tom T. Hall and the late Hank Cochran were honored with the ACM’s Poet’s Award for songwriting.

Other recipients included artist manager John Dorris (Mae Boren Axton Award), Reba McEntire (Career Achievement Award), Taylor Swift (Jim Reeves International Award). Country Strong, the movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw, received the Tex Ritter Award for representing country music in film.

There were other winners in various industry-related categories, too, but I’m proud to point out that my friend, Sally Williams, general manager of the Ryman Auditorium, received the prize for promoter of the year.

More News
CMA entertainer of the year nominees Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban are all scheduled to perform on the CMA Awards show taking place Nov. 9 in Nashville. The event will air live on ABC.

In a career that’s already spanned 30 years, George Strait has landed his 24th No. 1 album on the country chart with Here for a Good Time. Not only that, Strait and his wife Norma are looking forward to becoming grandparents in February.

Good guy Rodney Atkins settled in again at No. 1 on the country songs chart with his latest smash, “Take a Back Road.”

Goodbye, Old Friends
It must’ve been two decades ago when Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper were booked to play the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in Rosine, Ky. I’d already had an interesting morning when Stoney and a couple of guys from Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys, took me to visit Uncle Pen’s cabin located high on the hill above the town, just like Monroe wrote in his famous song. It’s the place where a 16-year-old Monroe lived with his uncle, Pendleton Vandiver.

The Coopers had driven to Rosine from their Nashville home in their new Winnebago. I attended the festival because my teenaged son, Terry, was playing bass in the their band. Wilma Lee invited me to lunch in their kitchen on wheels where she’d prepared white butter beans, cornbread and sliced onions. Yum!

I knew I had lost a dear friend when word reached me that Wilma Lee died Sept. 13 at her home in Sweetwater, Tenn. She was 90 years old and is survived by her daughter, Carol Lee Cooper.

I have to mention, too, that Don Wayne, the wonderful song man, died on Sept. 12 after a battle with cancer. Don penned “Country Bumpkin” for Cal Smith and teamed with the great Bill Anderson to write “Saginaw, Michigan” for Lefty Frizzell. If you don’t know these two songs, you need to check ’em out.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1671292″]Chicken Pie.[/news]