(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 shares her recipes at CMT.com.)
I get e-mails every day from all over the planet, especially Africa where the request is always the same: "God will bless you if you send $20,000, and it will be used to get $20 million out of a bank for you."
When I received Jenny Smedley's e-mail, I saw right away the lady from England wasn't asking for money. Bottom line, what she wanted was to know, "Did Garth Brooks read my book?"
Despite having a wonderful husband, great son, horses and all the trappings, Smedley claims she was depressed and despairing of ever being happy until she saw Garth Brooks in concert on TV. When they showed a Garth close-up, she became happy -- and the happiness lasted. Her husband and son are overjoyed over her being happy.
She became a successful songwriter and lost 45 pounds without trying. Then she relates that somebody said something -- she did not say what they said or who they were -- but it made her think. And then she went into past life regression. During this session, she says she discovered that she had known Garth in a previous life he had spent as Ryan Fitzgerald, a young Irishman.
After writing down all the above -- and more -- in a book, she and her husband came to Nashville in 1999 when she says they met with Garth's manager (Bob Doyle), his attorney (Rusty Jones) and, eventually, met with Garth himself.
According to Jenny's e-mail, Garth asked for a copy of her book, titled Ripples, and he promised he'd read the book and call her. It's been seven years, and Jenny and her hubby have moved twice. She's authored three books and has yet to hear from Garth.
The line that clued me as to what she wanted was: "I hope you find this of interest, as I know you are a good friend of Garth's." This was obviously her reason for writing to me.
FYI: I answered Jenny directly, simply and childlike. I explained my Baptist beliefs that lay no claim on knowing the young Irishman Ryan Fitzgerald or anything remotely close to past life regression. With all her knowledge of the past, shouldn't she know whether Garth read her book or not? Maybe her insight can answer the big question of how many copies of Garth's boxed set have really been sold at Wal-Mart.
Cyndi Thomson Returns to Capitol
When the beautiful, breathless and scantily clad Cyndi Thomson got married, the rising star shortly thereafter departed Capitol Records amid rumors that she was going gospel. At a Christian event, she openly criticized the label and blamed them for the risqué outfits she'd worn onstage. Shania never blamed Mercury for her outfits, and Faith never blamed Warner Bros., but Cyndi was blaming Capitol -- and nobody on Music Row listened or believed.
Listen, the girl can sing, but will she get a second chance? Time will tell.
Here's what I wonder: Did the Lord tell her to leave Capitol? Did the Lord tell her to go back to Capitol? Will the Lord tell her not to show so many body parts this time? Sometimes I think too much blame is put on the Lord.
By the way, I contacted Capitol, and they are legitimately pursuing the sexy Georgia singer's career for yet a second time.
"Red" Goes Gold
Another redneck song is certified gold. "Redneck Yacht Club" by Craig Morgan has been certified gold digital for sales of 100,000. This is Craig's second hit from his My Kind of Living album on the Broken Bow label. He hit No. 1 with "That's What I Love About Sunday."
Conlee, Judds Set for Kentucky Hall of Fame
John Conlee, the Judds duo, bluegrass multi-picker Sam Bush, gospel queen Dottie Rambo and Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary are among those being inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame on Feb. 23. Kentucky native Lily Tomlin will present the award to the class of 2006.
More to Urban Than His Girlfriend
Keith Urban's sold-out Alive in '05 tour has been extended. And even though it doesn't rhyme, it is called Still Alive in '06. Urban has one of the most electrifying shows on the road. Anyone who says, "I don't get Keith Urban," has not seen his live show. Pat Green is Urban's opening act but, from what I hear, his closing act is Nicole Kidman. But there's a lot more to Keith than Nicole.
"Happy Birthday to Me," Sang John Rich
The best I could tell, John Rich of Big & Rich (and getting richer) recently hosted his very own 32nd birthday party at Bluesboro on Music Town's Second Avenue. The theme for the evening was the Rat Pack -- complete with a Marilyn Monroe look-alike who emerged from a birthday cake. Guests who joined the MuzikMafia godfather included Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, Kid Rock, Blake Shelton, Tanya Tucker, Brian McKnight, John Anderson, Billy Joe Shaver and MusikMafioso Cowboy Troy, James Otto and Jon Nicholson.
Rich invited his honky-tonk hero, John Anderson, to the stage to perform big hits like "Swingin'" and "Straight Tequila Night." Anderson then invited his honky-tonk hero the stage -- Billy Joe Shaver. From Billy Joe's rich pen, the threesome sang another Anderson hit, "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)."
May I ask a question or two? Where was Rich's duo partner -- Big Kenny of Big & Rich? Where was John's co-writer and the biggest act he co-produces -- Gretchen Wilson? Just wondering why his two best friends were not at his party.
Aldean, Broken Bow Share Gold
Jason Aldean celebrated the gold certification of his self-titled album on the Broken Bow label. More riches for John Rich, who has co-written (with Vicky McGehee) both of Jason's singles from the CD and was present for the gold party at the Red Iguana last week in downtown Nashville. Rascal Flatts don't care that Jason records for an indie label. Jason will be opening shows for the band in the near future.
Tired of Kenny and Renny?
Me too! But their names keep popping up.
Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger were spotted earlier this month at Steamer's, a sub shop in Franklin, Tenn. According to the The Tennessean newspaper, Kenny the dieter ordered a turkey sandwich plain -- no mayo, no mustard, no tomato, no cheese. (Yuck!) And this is even weirder. Zellweger ordered a Philly cheese sandwich -- sans cheese. At my house, that's a piece of meat between two slices of bread -- not a Philly Cheese sandwich. But when you've been awarded an Oscar for acting, I guess you can act like you're truly eating a Philly cheese sandwich.
Congratulations to American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. She's gone double platinum with debut album, Some Hearts, not her hair!
Shannon Brown was the only country artist named in Billboard under the headline of "Faces to Watch: Hot in 2006."
It's rumored that Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will tour together beginning in April. Fans love to see them together.
John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will be featured with high school chum Steve Martin on a two-hour special set to air Feb. 3 on A&E. It was McEuen who taught Steve to play banjo, and it was McEuen who talked his brother, Bill McEuen, into managing Steve.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Cheese Omelet.