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HOT DISH: Kenny and Peyton Share a Strong Friendship
It Was No Surprise That Kenny Was There for Colts' Super Bowl Victory
(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.)

Kenny Chesney and Peyton Manning, both at the top of their game, bring home the trophies and a winning attitude.

Longtime buddies, Kenny and Peyton continue to nurture a friendship that began when the singer was sitting on a stool singing for tips in an East Tennessee bar and the athlete was struggling to succeed as quarterback at the University of Tennessee.

Both men worked hard and shared their dreams of making a name for themselves in their respective fields but never strayed very far from their roots and the rock solid foundation that molded an eternal friendship between the two men. It's a friendship that takes them to the stands to cheer each other on.

Kenny's busy, but he wasn't too busy to go to Indianapolis for the playoff game where ESPN spotted him when the Colts beat the New England Patriots. It's funny, but the big stadiums where Peyton plays his game is where Kenny will perform six big concerts this summer. If he can work it in his schedule, Manning will be there. More than likely, the star will have his buddy join him onstage. No, Peyton doesn't sing all that great, but Kenny's fans expect him to bring his friend out for them to cheer.

When it comes to Kenny, so many people were always quick to say, "He can't." Just as many were saying the same thing about Peyton right up to the day before the Super Bowl. So the day before the big game, I sent an e-mail to Kenny letting him know I was sending up a prayer for Peyton and the Colts. Kenny replied, "Hey Baby, I will send Peyton your love. I am in Miami on my boat and going to the game tomorrow. Love you, Kenny."

Before the game Kenny allowed, "These moments don't come too often. And Peyton has always been great about coming out and hanging with me and the guys. It's pretty cool to see someone you've known this long playing in the Super Bowl -- and I wouldn't miss his first Super Bowl for the world."

The Colts won the freaking Super Bowl, beating the Chicago Bears, 29-17, on a rainy Sunday. Peyton earned the MVP award and was presented a brand new Cadillac. And Kenny was there to see it -- just like Peyton was in Knoxville in 2003 for Kenny's homecoming concert in front of 67,000 screaming fans at the University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium.

That's what real friends are for.

More From the Super Bowl

Guess who else was spotted at the Super Bowl? Carrie Underwood was seen holding hands with some skinny guy with sandy hair. I don't know who he was, but I know who he wasn't. He definitely was not a member of the Dallas Cowboys. If anybody gives a flip, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were also seen at the big game.

Online Voting Continues for CMT Music Awards

CMT has announced the nominees for the fan-voted CMT Music Awards set to air April 16 with Jeff Foxworthy hosting for the third straight year. Leading the pack with three nominations each are Carrie Underwood, the Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland. Fans, you can vote now at CMT.com. All your faves are nominated.

Welcome Home, Reba

Reba McEntire has never officially performed at the CMA Music Festival. Eleven years ago, the last time she appeared, the event was still called Fan Fair and was still being held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. But the actress, singer and Broadway star will be singing under the CMA Music Festival banner during the event taking place June 7-10 in downtown Nashville. She joins a list of performers than include her friend, Martina McBride, as well as CMA female vocalist of the year Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, the Wreckers, Sugarland and a slate of others. (I wonder if Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley will show up unannounced again this year.)

Reba will join Kelly Clarkson for a CMT Crossroads on Feb. 22 in Nashville. The concert will take place in front of an invited audience.

Word Up!

Word from the road: Gretchen Wilson worked the women in the audience into a frenzy at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo during her song, "One of the Boys." A line in the song goes, "I can do almost anything a man can do/I can hold my liquor with the best of you." I'm wondering if Gretchen is bragging or complaining. The song is from her upcoming album.

Word from music writer Jim Bessman: Larry Gatlin says he and his brothers Steve Gatlin and Rudy Gatlin haven't had a hit single in 20 years, but they've got more work on the road than they can handle.

Word on the street: Connie Smith will be working in Branson, Mo., for a month this summer with Mel Tillis. I'd pay to see that show.

Word in print: Some 20,000 fans paid $1,145,037 to see George Strait perform in Greensboro, N.C., with opening acts Ronnie Milsap and Taylor Swift.

Word of mouth: One of country's great female singers, Pam Tillis, has released a new CD titled Rhinestoned on her own Stellar Cat imprint. We haven't had new music from Pam since 2002.

Words from the charts: Toby Keith's latest single, "High Maintenance Woman," debuted at No. 37 on Billboard's country airplay chart. Not bad at all, especially because the track charted before an official release date had been set. Look for Toby's album, Big Dog Daddy, in the marketplace June 12.

More News

The 25,000 runners set to participate in the Country Music Marathon and ½ Marathon will be royally entertained when Sara Evans takes the stage at Gaylord Entertainment on April 28.

Trace Adkins' mega-hit "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" has rung up gold certification for master ringtone sales of 500,000. It's Trace's first such certification.

Does anybody recall the first country star to read to school children? I do. It was Garth Brooks at Chadwell School in Madison, Tenn. Kellie Pickler followed the tradition with a recent visit to Pennington Elementary School in Nashville where she read from Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Ambrosia.
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