(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.)
If I see another word about those photographs taken by Annie Leibovitz of Miley Cyrus, I think I will crawl up on the nude statues on the Music Row roundabout in Nashville and throw up. I have never in my almost four decades on Music Row heard of anything of so little substance getting so much mileage. All this carrying on has gotten completely out of hand and out of control because it is being said by "them" and not "us."
We are not talking about some smoking hottie Hollywoodite who's ready and willing to show it all because that's their only claim to fame. We are talking about native Tennessean Miley Cyrus, the 15-year-old daughter of Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, who is so talented she landed her own television show and her own record deal. We are talking about the young lady named to Time magazine's list of the year's 100 most influential people. We're talking about the girl People magazine says makes a million bucks weekly. You got that straight?
Miley, an obedient child, obviously obeyed the photographer when she made suggestions during the photo shoot. I am so sure that's all there is to it, I'd stake my life on it. There was no ulterior motive on her part or the part of her parents. No thoughts of furthering a career that is already a multi-million dollar empire. Anybody who thinks otherwise is a hired troublemaker who specializes in such. Consider where you read the headlines.
Let me ask a question: Where did Vanity Fair magazine fit in all this brouhaha? Were they for or against the photographs? Doesn't the magazine have to approve all photos? Did they have the photographer take these photos to sell magazines? Another point: The pictures I saw show Miley wearing much more than a bikini -- beach wear for 15-year-olds and their mamas. Duh. It's warm weather.
Had Hollywood and the tabloids not got their mangy hands on the story, blown it all out of proportion and run with it, there never would have been a story. That is, unless Vanity Fair wanted to sell tons of magazines.
If I were the troublemakers, I'd be careful. Why? I remember the early '90s when Sandy Neese, PR person extraordinaire at Mercury Records, called to tell me about Billy Ray Cyrus from Flatwoods, Ky. "He's gonna be big as Elvis," she allowed. So I hauled it over to the label's office where label chief Harold Shedd played me the music. It took almost a year for me to close my mouth shut after hearing "Achy Breaky Heart" for the first time. Like Sandy, Harold and also A&R director Buddy Cannon, I knew they had something huge to work with. Read on.
On the strength of "Achy Breaky Heart" and his onstage dancing, Billy Ray's career bolted off like a racehorse in the Kentucky Derby -- so quick and so fast. Females screamed for Billy Ray like their mamas screamed for Elvis. It was the early '90s when in a snit (or jealousy) someone carelessly remarked, "All Billy Ray Cyrus can do is shake his ass." These carelessly-spoken words did not hurt Billy Ray's career as much as they hurt his feelings.
Whoa! Is history repeating itself? Could this be what is taking place with the Miley saga? Could the finger-pointers and accusers be the ones who fall by the wayside? Doesn't a teenager's apology count? It was an apology she didn't even have to make, but that's the way the child was raised -- just say you're sorry. Turning the other cheek is scriptural. Something her daddy taught her. We do that in the South.
Dierks Bentley and His Executive Producers
Thousands are listed as executive producer on Dierks Bentley's brand new album, Greatest Hits/Every Mile a Memory 2003-2008. When you slide the CD into the slot of your player, stop and read the names that begin "Smi" ... and you will find Hazel Smith. Dierks and his PR rep, the wonderful Mary Hilliard Harrington, sent me a copy of the CD along with a note. While Dierks is going around the world introducing his music, I will be listening to his CD.
By the way, did you see where Dierks invited Sarah Buxton to sing with him on the Today Show? And have you heard about Anheuser-Busch's award-winning "Real Men of Genius" campaign for Bud Light? It now features Dierks?
Country Singers on the Lawn
The wonderful Kellie Pickler headlined last week's GrandRally on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., as part of an event calling attention to grandfamilies -- grandparents raising their grandchildren. Kellie performed "My Angel," a song she wrote and dedicated to her late grandmother. Raised by her grandparents, this is an issue of importance to Kellie, who has donated nearly $50,000 to AARP's Grandparenting Foundation.
Phil Vassar sang on the south lawn of the White House last week in a ceremony honoring the six recipients of the Volunteer Service Award and in celebration of military spouses across the country. Phil was honored to sing the national anthem to commence the ceremony and the president's speech. After all this pomp and circumstance, Phil was allowed to cut loose with three songs from his Prayer of a Common Man CD.
Here's More News
Crystal Gayle joined Don McLean, the Alan Parsons Project, Donovan, Judy Collins, Dr. Hook, Blood, Sweat & Tears and the Kingston Trio recently for the two-day Flower Power Peace Jam in Seoul, Korea.
Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson will be honored Nov. 20 by the board of trust of his alma mater, the University of Georgia in Athens. Anderson has been named as a charter member of the Grady Fellowship.
Marty Stuart has a new book titled Country Music/The Masters.
Hear this! George Jones has an upcoming album on Bandit Records titled Burn Your Playhouse Down featuring a previously-unreleased duet with Tammy Wynette along with other duets with Keith Richards, Leon Russell, Mark Knopfler, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, Jim Lauderdale and Shelby Lynne. I cannot wait for this.
Congratulations to James Otto on his No. 1 single "Just Got Started Lovin' You" and for his Sunset Man album selling 107,975 copies in just three weeks.
Tim McGraw kicked off his Live Your Voice tour on Friday (May 9) in Tampa, Fla. McGraw had already announced that his special guests on the tour are Jason Aldean and Halfway to Hazard, but also joining him as featured players are the Warren Brothers.
Rascal Flatts set to launch their Bob That Head tour on June 13 in St. Louis with opening acts Taylor Swift and songwriters Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley.
Speaking of Ms. Swift, did you realize she penned most of the songs on her 3-million selling debut CD when she was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. Is this maybe the youngest nominee ever for ACM album of the year? Check it out.
The Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Bossier City, La., officially opened its new CMT-themed bar with a debut performance by Sara Evans. The CMT Crossroads bar is a place for nighthawks to visit.
Jack Ingram has traveled roads of the southwest for 15 years making his music, but this year he's up for best new male artist at the ACM Awards. Jack doesn't mind. He thinks the nomination is fantastic. "I am a new artist in the majority of the country," allows the smoking-hot Texan.
Shots before a concert for Kenny Chesney? Well, maybe sometimes with a bottle and a shot glass, but he's never had eight injections before a show. The shots these nights are to numb his injured foot.
Sympathy to Jon Hager on the passing of his twin, Jim Hager. Like two peas in a pod, usually if you saw one Hager, you saw the other. One lived upstairs, the other downstairs in the same house.
Garth Brooks will be recognized with ACM's newly created Crystal Milestone Award for his record sales achievements. Garth will also perform a medley of his hits.
The Grascals will release their third CD, Keep on Walkin', on July 15.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chicken and Noodles