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HOT DISH: Trace Adkins Is Smarter Than the Average Celebrity Apprentice
Recapping the Grammys and Honoring the New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees
Hot Dish
Hot Dish
(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.)

Has Nashville ignored Trace Adkins? Is Music Row even watching Trace on Celebrity Apprentice? Does mega-bucks Donald Trump have to show us how smart Trace is on his NBC-TV show?

Trace has proven he's the idea person on Hydra, the men's team. You've got Piers Morgan, Tito Ortiz, Lennox Lewis and Trace against Stephen Baldwin and the girls. And Hydra won because of Trace's brainstorm. If you combine fashion designer Vera Wang and the Serta mattress company, what do you get? Trace responded that the answer was great romance -- Cleopatra and Marc Anthony on a Serta. Lordy. How original. How cool.

Of course, Omarosa forced the girls to do a cute ho-hum bridal scene with Carol Alt and Baldwin, but brides and bridal gowns are what Wang has always been about. She wanted to spread her designing wings, and our Trace helped her. Like Yogi was smarter than the average bear, Trace has proven he is smarter than the average apprentice. And he'll continue to prove that when the new episode airs Thursday (Feb. 21) on NBC.

Country, Rock, Rap and the Grammys

Wearing dark glasses, Ringo Starr and former Eurhythmic Dave Stewart presented plumb-perfect Vince Gill his well-deserved Grammy award for best country album for his plumb-perfect four-disc CD, These Days. Accepting his 19th Grammy, Vince smarted off with the best line of the show.

"I just got an award presented to me by a Beatle. Have you had that happen yet, Kanye?" he asked Kanye West, who had already accepted about four statues that evening. Like the two rock stars who gave Vince his award, Kanye also wore dark glasses. My advice is for them all to keeping wearing those dark glasses. When you're cool, the sun is always shining.

Did you see Tina Turner outdance and outsing Beyoncé? I loved that. Tina must be pushing 70, and she still looks great, sings great and dances great. Beyoncé got by.

The Killer -- Jerry Lee Lewis -- sang "Great Balls of Fire," but his fire seemed to be all but burned out. Little Richard, fiery as ever, proved he still can -- as did John Fogerty, who was hotter than a pistol. Whew!

I could have enjoyed more performances on the show from Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Congratulations to Brad on his award for best country instrumental for "Throttleneck." The same goes to Carrie for her best female country vocal performance bling for "Before He Cheats." Congrats to Keith Urban for his best male country vocal performance win for "Stupid Boy." Thanks for keeping Music Row proud of your talent.

Imagine seeing Dierks Bentley in a suit at the Grammys! Looking handsome, cute and every inch a star, I wish they'd allowed him to sing. With four nominations, why not? I am crazy about Dierks. I wish he'd won this year, but he's a future Grammy winner for sure.

I just don't get Amy Winehouse with all those tattoos and her "Rehab" song. The best new artist trophy should have gone to our very own Taylor Swift. Those in agreement with me say, "Yeah!"

Lord, yes, I am proud of Alison Krauss. She and Robert Plant shared a Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocals for "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)." That's my favorite song on their album. The album wasn't in the time frame to be nominated this time. Will it be forgotten by the time the Grammys roll around again in 2009?

Aretha Franklin's performance with BeBe Winans almost lifted me out of my recliner. Aretha is blessed with excellence. I'm humbly proud to walk on the same earth as Aretha Franklin.

When Ricky Skaggs and the Whites released Salt of the Earth, I wrote about the CD in this column. It sounded like an award winner to me then, and I am so proud they got the Grammy for best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album. I do hope believers and doubters will give a good listen to this album. Buck White's version of "Wreck on the Highway" is worth the price of that CD.

Congratulations to songwriters Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins for their best country song award for "Before He Cheats." I had to pull off the road the first time I heard it. Clever lyrics, boys, and I loved the line about the Louisville Slugger baseball bat meeting the headlights. I never did anything that damaging, but I once took my MAC red lipstick and wrote my name all over windows, headlights, windshield and mirrors of a vehicle owned by a certain male who deserved the artwork. Well, after all, I told him to never park his car in that other woman's driveway. Men should learn to listen.

Then, I also remember the time when my angelic friend, Cheryl White of the Whites, was faced with a situation in the pouring rain after the CMA Awards. Wearing her fine new dress, she kicked her brand new sequined shoe through a door -- and busted that sucker down! Like I said, men should learn to listen and not to park in another gal's driveway. (Cheryl allowed me to tell this, and I still laugh when I think about it.)

Hall's in the Hall With Emmylou, Statlers and Stoneman

Another deserving list of honorees will be welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year. Tom T. Hall called his induction "spiritual," and that's what the Hall of Fame is to me. It's the true place to remember those familiar faces that are immortalized in bronze. They're the reason we are here enjoying country music. Go alone into the rotunda that houses the statues and you will feel a presence. Between a tear and a smile, you will know you are honoring greatness.

And greatness best describes Hall and the other new inductees -- Emmylou Harris, the Statler Brothers and Ernest "Pop" Stoneman. Tom T. is the poet laureate of country music. He's our storyteller. His lyrics lend truth, humor and intelligence. "Harper Valley P.T.A.," "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died," "(Old Dogs-Children and) Watermelon Wine" -- songs don't get better than these, pal.

What can I say about Emmylou Harris that hasn't been said? Her angelic vocals turned our heads and filled our hearts with beauty previously unknown in the genre of country music. Making old songs new again with the world's finest singers and musicians, she got the attention of America's youth. Listen, if somebody would listen to me and do a TV special featuring Emmylou's music and the artists she's helped through the years, a stage could not hold the participants. She's a village -- a village who made music better.

The most awarded group in all of country music and one of the most entertaining acts to ever hit the hillbilly highway was the quartet called the Statler Brothers. The eight years they opened shows for Johnny Cash could be why they allowed unknowns like the Judds and Garth Brooks to open their shows. I'd never miss the Statlers in the coliseums in North Carolina. Think about hits such as "Flowers on the Wall," "Bed of Roses," "Do You Remember These," "Charlotte's Web," "Elizabeth" and many others. They're all the unforgettable songs you can hum. There's not many of those these days.

Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman has finally reached the venue where he wanted to be from the day it was envisioned -- the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. History has it that Pop convinced record producer and music publisher Ralph Peer to make the trek to Bristol, Tenn., to record. Peer listened. After all, he'd guided Stoneman through his monster hit, "The Wreck of the Titanic," for the Okeh label in New York in 1924. History also reveals Stoneman assisted Peer in the 1927 recordings of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. The names of 15 Stoneman kids are listed in various publications, but I've heard there were more -- 23 kids.

Larry and Me

Larry the Cable Guy joins me in my kitchen on the new episode of CMT's Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith airing Tuesday (Feb. 19) at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Wednesday (Feb. 20) at 1:45 p.m. ET/PT. You'll enjoy this week's movie, Silverado, too.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Marinated Vegetable Salad.
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