HOT DISH: Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw Close Tour on a High Note

Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Jana Kramer, Blake Shelton Are Also in the News

(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 CMT.com.)

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw closed the biggest tour for the summer of 2012 with 111,209 fans staring in their faces. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, former quarterback Doug Flutie and Tim’s lovely better half, Faith Hill, showed up for the two shows Aug. 24-25 at Gillette Stadium at Foxboro, Mass., near Boston.

Fans got an extra treat when Tim and Faith performed “I Need You” and shared a long and lingering kiss … driving the crowd crazy.

Kenny and Tim previously grossed $5.5 million in New Jersey with a sellout of 56,285 tickets. Another 48,943 fans turned out at the Detroit sellout where the guys grossed $4.5 million. And in Landover, Md., the hottest tour of the year saw 46,389 fans lay down $3.9 million in ticket moolah.

Allow me to tell you about the good-hearted, unselfish Tim McGraw, who may be a saint. He presented 25 mortgage-free homes to veterans through the Operation HomeFront initiative during the summer tour with Kenny. At each tour stop, the veteran and his or her family had the opportunity to meet Tim.

“Their stories left a mark on me,” Tim said. “The need to take care of the men and women who fight and sacrifice so much for us is great, and this program is only making a dent. I hope to do more on down the road.”

Now that Kenny and Tim’s Brothers of the Sun tour is history, Tim and Faith are now preparing for their Soul2Soul shows at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The performances begin Dec. 7 and run through April 2013.

Taylor Swift Is All Over the Place
Taylor Swift continued to make news last week with the world premiere of her “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” video on CMT and MTV. The track is spending its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has sold more than 930,000 downloads in the U.S.

Taylor has also been named the recipient of the Canadian Country Music Association’s Generation Award for all she’s done to spread country music around the globe. She’ll be presented the award later this year.

That Taylor is all over the place.

She’ll perform Thursday (Sept. 6) on the MTV Video Music Awards. She and Tim McGraw will also appear Friday (Sept. 7) on the Stand Up to Cancer TV special featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Jessica Biel, Samuel L. Jackson, Seth Rogen, Coldplay, Emma Stone, Alicia Keys and bunch of others with names I’ve never heard of.

Blake Shelton Credits Fans, Radio for Success
Blake Shelton is enjoying his own chart success, too, with his latest single, “Over,” having spent two weeks at the top of Billboard‘s country songs chart. It’s his 12th single to reach No. 1 and the fourth single from his Red River Blue album.

Commenting about the single’s success, Blake said, “Long before The Voice, the only place you could hear my voice was on country radio. I owe a lot of my success to the support of my fans and country radio.”

Blake is getting ready to release his first Christmas album. It will include several duets, including a special track featuring his mother. Reba’s on there, and so is his advisor on The Voice, Michael Bublé.

Blake wanted the holiday record to be a classic — bigger than any genre. He says the recording process took him completely out of his element. He says he and producer Scott Hendricks came up with a classic Christmas record he’s very proud of.

I’m hoping Blake remembers to send me one when it’s released on Oct. 2.

Keith Urban Moonlighting as Teacher
One of the top supporters of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Keith Urban has again raised his hand to help. This time, high school students from Nashville’s public schools will hear Keith talk about the craft of songwriting, his influences, creative inspirations and important moments in his career.

Students will have the opportunity to ask questions when the event takes place Thursday (Sept. 6) at the museum in downtown Nashville.

Keith, a museum supporter for years, has helped raise more than $1.5 million for the organization by hosting his all-star We’re All for the Hall benefit concerts.

Jana Kramer Is Hungry to Sing
When their first single starts to happen or maybe a video turns hot, newcomers sometimes stop by my kitchen. Such was the case with Jana Kramer, a successful actress who is hungry to sing.

Now, pretty Jana’s single, “Why Ya Wanna,” is certified gold for 500,000 downloads. Currently No. 6 on Billboard‘s country songs chart, it’s the highest-charting female country debut since Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” in 2006.

Little Big Town Strive to End Child Hunger
Did you know that more than one in five American children do not know where their next meal is coming from? Little Big Town and ConAgra Foods will partner this fall for the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign.

Recalling his childhood, band member Philip Sweet said, “Having gone through difficulties with my own family and growing up in a single-parent household with five siblings, I’ve had first-hand experience with not knowing sometimes where our next meal was coming from. We had to be creative and work together as a team and a family to make ends meet. We could not have done it without the help of friends and our community.”

Don’t you want to go along with these wonderful unselfish people? I do!

Tom T. Hall Tapped for BMI Icon Honor
I’m thrilled to death that Tom T. Hall will be honored as BMI’s Icon for 2012. One of country music’s all-time incredible songwriters, he wrote classics such as “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and “I Love,” the song Peter Cooper of The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville played for his son when he was born. When Peter’s wife Charlotte gave birth, the new dad put the tape in the machine and played Tom T singing “I Love.”

Life is grand!

Little League Team Goes International
One of our all-time great duos was the Osborne Brothers — Bobby and Sonny. Sonny no longer tours, but Bobby is still making music. Bobby’s great grandson, Blake Osborne, is a member of the Little League baseball team from Goodlettsville, Tenn., that went all the way to become USA champs.

The team lost the national title to the Japan, but the players shed not a tear. Home run hitter Brock Myers was heard to say, “We’re the second-best team in the world. That’s pretty good, I guess. I’m all right with that.”

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id="1693025 "] Green Beans and New Potatoes.[/news]