HOT DISH: Blake Shelton Has Plenty to Smile About These Days

More News on Jason Aldean, Vince Gill, Lonestar, Keith Urban 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

There were already lots of reasons recent bridegroom Blake Shelton has been unable to wipe that smile off his face lately, but he got even more good news last week when he became the only artist to take more than two singles to the top of Billboard’s country chart this year.

Count ’em:

“Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” hit No. 1 in March.

“Honey Bee” spent four consecutive weeks at the top in June and July.

“God Gave Me You” is currently enjoying its second week at No. 1.

According to Wade Jessen, senior chart editor at Billboard, only five other acts have each scored two No. 1 country songs so far this year — Jason Aldean, the Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney and Chris Young.

I, for one, do hope Blake and his lovely bride Miranda Lambert can figure a way to spend more time together. It’s almost a sin to be so happily married but on different highways as they zoom along alone to their separate tour dates.

Blake kicks off his Well Lit & Amplified tour with guests Justin Moore and Dia Frampton on Jan. 12 in Toledo, Ohio.

As for the lovely Miranda, her new album, Four the Record, will be released Tuesday (Nov. 1). She’ll start the day by performing “Baggage Claim” on NBC’s Today. She’ll appear Wednesday on Live With Regis & Kelly.

You Know the Stars on a First-Name Basis
For the fourth consecutive year, Brad Paisley (my favorite hillbilly boy from West Virginia) and Carrie Underwood (the Oklahoma girl I taught to use a firm handshake) will host the CMA Awards on ABC-TV.

Performers on the Nov. 9 show include Jason, Luke, Eric, Sara, Faith, Lady A, Miranda, Martina, Scotty, Blake, Taylor, T-Square, Keith U., Chris, Zac and Kenny, among others. Friends, if you don’t know these stars’ names listed this way, you must not be paying attention to country music.

Jason Aldean’s Lady Gaga Connection
Jason Aldean is a tough-looking country singer wearing un-ironed britches, a farmer’s straw hat and a plaid shirt. It doesn’t matter to Jason if you like him or not. He knows his wife loves him — and that’s good enough for this Georgia boy.

Jason probably doesn’t give a good tinker’s dang about Lady Gaga, but he and Gaga are the first performers announced for The Grammy Nominations Concert Live! — Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night taking place Nov. 30 in Los Angeles. Look for a bunch of noms to be revealed when the always-cool LL Cool J hosts the affair on CBS.

Vince Gill Is Everywhere
If you turn on your TV these days, you’re likely to see Vince Gill. He’s all over the tube to promote his new album, Guitar Slinger. Those media stops have already included NBC’s Today, the Fox Business channel’s Imus in the Morning and CBS’s The Early Show. While in New York City, he took the time to perform at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe to raise money to help end AIDS and homelessness.

He’ll be heading to the West Coast for a Nov. 16 appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. After he finishes the taping, he’ll head over to the Troubadour, the famed club in Los Angeles, where he first gained prominence as an artist. While in L.A., he’ll also appear on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live on Nov. 17.

And Vince will get more TV exposure when his episode of CMT Crossroads premieres on CMT. The performance, taped recently in New York City, airs Nov. 24 — on CMT, of course.

And while these next two events won’t be nationally televised, Vince will be the grand marshal of Nashville’s 59th annual Christmas parade on Dec. 3, and he and his lovely wife, Amy Grant, will perform holiday concerts at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Dec. 20-21.

Richie McDonald Reunites With Lonestar
Lonestar is welcoming back original lead singer Richie McDonald. The multiplatinum group will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2012 with a new album and a world tour. It’s official, and it’s great news.

He’s reuniting with former partners Dean Sams, Keech Rainwater and Michael Britt. Their first dates take place Feb. 26-March 4 in England, Ireland, Switzerland and Germany.

Richie said he got together with his old bandmates after they decided they had some unfinished business to take care of. Dean added, “The fans want us back together as a band, and we have so much music to offer.”

With Richie in the band, the band can perform hits like “Amazed” and “I’m Already There” with their familiar sound.

“I’m proud of what we’ve already done in our career,” Michael said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to celebrate 20 years together this way.”

Let me add, these are good boys. With a name like Lonestar, they can sing one song about Texas each night and make a real good living. And along with the band, I wish their most recent vocalist, Cody Collins, all the best in his future endeavors. He did a good job filling Richie’s spot.

Keith Urban Is All Heart
Keith Urban is all heart, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. He’s donating his one-of-a-kind Fender guitar for an auction to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure in its mission to raise awareness of breast cancer and find a cure for the disease. Bidding continues through Wednesday (Nov. 2) on eBay.

The man gives and gives. Keep in mind, his next We’re All for the Hall event is set for Jan. 18 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, and he and his superstar guests will once again be donating every cent to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Tickets go on sale Dec. 2 for the show starring Keith, Vince Gill, Rascal Flatts, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Little Big Town, the Oak Ridge Boys and others.

I read somewhere that Keith should be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Yes, that would be nice. But I’m thinking that with all his giving, especially to the Hall of Fame, wouldn’t it be nice for him to one day be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame? He deserves it, and I think it will eventually happen.

It’s OK to Cry
A 15-car pileup at the Las Vegas Indy 300 claimed the life of Dan Wheldon, the driver who won this year’s Indianapolis 500 and had many close friends in Nashville, including those at Big Machine Records who sponsored his car.

The fatal crash in Las Vegas on Oct. 16 left drivers like Dario Franchitti in tears. Franchitti’s wife, actress Ashley Judd, was with him after the crash.

During a private funeral in St. Petersburg, Fla., Wynonna, Ashley’s sister, sang “I Can Only Imagine” and “Amazing Grace.” There was a public tribute the next day in Indianapolis where Garth Brooks sang “The Dance,” Reba offered “If I Had Only Known” and The Band Perry performed the Vince Gill classic, “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”

May the Lord be with these race car drivers.

Sending sympathy and prayers to Riders in the Sky fiddler Woody Paul and his entire family on the unexpected passing of his youngest son, 21-year-old Casey Chrisman.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1673364″]Taco Soup.[/news]