HOT DISH: Keith Urban Gives to Community and Gets a Surprise of His Own

More News About Kenny Chensey, Tim McGraw, Jake Owen, Alan Jackson 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

The incredibly talented Keith Urban can still be surprised, and he got the surprise of his life Tuesday (April 10) during the We’re All for the Hall benefit concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

While onstage, Keith was handed a gift — a black bag. When he opened it, he saw a Grand Ole Opry microphone. Vince Gill along with fellow Opry members Rascal Flatts, Diamond Rio and the Oak Ridge Boys were onstage for the surprise.

“How beautiful to this have this happen tonight,” Keith told after getting the official invitation to become an Opry member. “This means the world to me.”

Keith’s Opry induction is set for April 21, and he’ll become the only non-North American on the Opry roster.

To make things even sweeter during last week’s fundraiser for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Hall of Fame members Don Williams and Merle Haggard made surprise appearances. As a young boy in Australia, Keith’s dad played the music of these legends along with the records of other great country stars.

The We’re All for the Hall concert also featured Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Thompson Square, the Pistol Annies and Alabama, along with the Blue Sky Riders featuring Kenny Loggins and Nashville songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman.

I am so proud Keith is becoming an Opry member and hope I’ll eventually see him inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

By the way, Keith’s song “For You,” which he wrote for the Act of Valor movie, pays tribute to the Navy SEALs. Feeling privileged and honored to be a part of the movie that shines a light on the work the SEALs do, good-hearted Keith is donating all his artist and publishing royalties from the song to the Navy Seal Foundation.

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw: What a Debut!
After debuting their duet on the recent ACM Awards, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw’s “Feel Like a Rock Star” debuted at No. 13 on Billboard’s country songs chart. It’s the first single from Kenny’s new album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, set for release June 19.

No doubt, Kenny and Tim will be singing the song onstage again when their Brothers of the Sun stadium tour begins June 2 in Tampa, Fla.

“We can’t wait to get on the road,” said Kenny. “Going on the road with Tim is gonna be one long party.”

Jake Owen Pops the Question Onstage in Florida
How about that Jake Owen? During a concert in his hometown of Vero Beach, Fla., he called his girlfriend, Lacey Buchanan, onstage when he sang “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” and dropped to his knees to propose.

Jake didn’t have a ring. But as far as I’m concerned, he didn’t need one. It takes a real man to propose to his lady onstage in his hometown. They sure look perfect together.

Celebrity I Do’s
Tayla Lynn of the trio Stealing Angels and Jon Cody Finger tied the knot April 6 on the Isle of Capri in Italy. Tayla is the granddaughter of the legendary Loretta Lynn.

I just found out that Jesse Keith Whitley, son of Lorrie Morgan and the late Keith Whitley, married Ashlee Hewitt on March 10 in her hometown of Lancaster, Minn. The couple met when Ashlee was a contestant on Nashville Star. They’re looking for a house in Nashville.

And a Celebrity Dilemma
Elizabeth Hatcher Travis, ex-wife and ex-manager of superstar Randy Travis, has sued him for breach of contract.

According to the Nashville Business Journal, she filed a lawsuit on April 5 alleging that Randy and his attorneys terminated the management contract without written notice. She claimed they had a large truck, an armed guard and several men who hauled computers, documents and memorabilia from her Music Row office.

The couple divorced in 2010.

Alan Jackson Prepares New Album
Alan Jackson will release his new album, Thirty Miles West, on June 5. It features his current single, “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore.”

Alan has sold 60 million albums worldwide and written or co-written 25 of his No. 1 singles, putting him in the company of songwriters such as Paul McCartney and John Lennon who have written and recorded more than 20 chart-topping songs.

Lee Brice Finally Gets Big Recognition
Lee Brice is finally getting the recognition he deserves. He co-wrote the Eli Young Band’s “Crazy Girl,” the ACM’s song of the year, and his current single, “A Woman Like You,” just topped Billboard’s country chart and has sold more than 700,000 downloads.

His new album, Hard 2 Love, will be released April 24. He’s set to make a May 1 appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Kimberly Williams-Paisley, The Band Perry Fighting Hunger
Actress-author Kimberly Williams-Paisley (aka Mrs. Brad Paisley) and The Band Perry are part the new hunger-relief campaign, Fighting Hunger Together.

The effort is being undertaken in association with the Walmart Foundation, Feeding America and four of the nation’s largest food companies — ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and Kellogg’s. Walmart’s Facebook page will provide information on how to help communities hardest hit by unemployment.

There’s an enormous need. Thanks to Kim, the Perrys and everyone else who have stepped up to help fight hunger, especially for children.

A Call From Kinky Friedman
I heard from my longtime friend, Kinky Friedman. I especially love to hear from him when he’s writing again. He tells me he has two books in the works — one with Willie Nelson and the other with Billy Bob Thornton.

Whatever Kinky is writing, I want to read.

Southern Nights Stars Visit My Kitchen
There they stood — three of CMT’s Sweet Home Alabama alumni — in my kitchen.

Devin Grissom from Tennessee, Collin Varallo from Alabama and Cassie Rupp from Kansas had gone their various ways after being featured in the series, but they recently spent a month with seven other Sweet Home Alabama cast members in a Savannah, Ga., mansion for CMT’s new series, Southern Nights.

Pretty Devin is as blonde, blue-eyed, Southern and pretty as Nashville’s own Academy Award winning actress, Reese Witherspoon.

I’d heard they’d pretty much been living on Hot Pockets and beer, so I served them my orange tenderloin, green bean casserole, corn casserole and Amy’s Very Cherry Cake.

“This food looks like food!” someone remarked when they saw it.

With five girls and five boys in a mansion with television cameras running 24/7, I was almost afraid to ask what they did — or did not do. But they said they made some great friendships that will last a lifetime.

“I loved everybody there,” said Cassie.

“Me, too,” agreed Collin and Devin.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you will be watching Southern Nights on CMT. How could you dare miss it? I want to see who kisses who and why.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1683104″]Impossible Cheeseburger Pie.[/news]