(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.)
Following up what I already wrote about the recent CMA Music Festival, I wonder if we should bless or curse all those blondes. Should they have a hit single, and will there be room for them on the chart? Can radio find a place for all the blondes? Do they have a snowball's chance in hell to last, or will they have a meltdown before our very eyes? There seems to be a harem of 'em.
Beginning with Taylor Swift, who is batting a thousand these days, there's no doubt the curly-headed blonde will lead the pack for a while. She's writing songs, singing, producing and selling out concerts. And she is cute as a button. Teens, tweens and young boys love her. The girl's enthusiasm is contagious, and she is so smart. Did you catch her on the CMT Music Awards show when she gave credit to Garth Brooks and Shania Twain?
Next comes the Oklahoma beauty who won American Idol and is still winning fans wherever she goes. Carrie Underwood has worked really hard to become the superstar she is. She's co-writing songs, has been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and is headlining tours. One of the prettiest and one of the best singers, Carrie is a good example for wannabe singers. There's nothing trashy about her.
My fellow North Carolina native, the cute and darling Kellie Pickler, has changed her hairstyle a half-dozen times since she was a runner-up on American Idol, but she has kept it blonde. Kellie's attitude and smile have helped make her a favorite. You cannot help but love this girl. She's currently opening concerts for her friend, Taylor Swift. Her personality reminds me of another famous blonde named Dolly.
The talented Julianne Hough has proven she's a great dancer on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, and if it comes together, the lovely blonde will no doubt prove she's an actress, as well. She is in negotiations to star with Gossip Girl's pretty boy Chace Crawford in a remake of Footloose. In the meantime, Hough is opening shows for George Strait.
Holly Williams, the 28-year-old daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and granddaughter of Hank and Audrey Williams, is carrying on the family's musical heritage by writing songs with meaning. Tall, blonde and beautiful, Holly has the famed Williams bloodline but looks a lot like Audrey.
Blonde twins Kate and Kacey made it to round four on the first season of CMT's Can You Duet. These identical hotties co-wrote a song with Jamey Johnson that George Strait included on his Troubadour album. This duo could take off in a big way.
A lot of country girls will admit they went skinny-dipping in the creek as a kid, but only one -- Whitney Duncan -- sings about it. A native of Scotts Hill, Tenn., the blonde beauty has been working hard to get the attention she surely deserves. No one is prettier than Whitney, and she's a good singer and songwriter, too. Give her a break, radio!
It amazes me that Emily West hasn't already connected with a huge audience. When she sings, this blonde from Iowa reaches way down into her soul -- like Patsy Cline did. She's a "wow" singer. Everybody says "wow" when they hear her. I'm betting on this sweet singer-songwriter to make it to the big time.
Miranda Lambert is a real woman -- whether walking onstage with her guitar, tromping through the woods with her gun or driving her truck. Yes, she is blonde, but she's also tough when being tough is needed. On the other hand, she'll stop in the road and pick up an injured dog or cat (or any animal) and take care of it. She does like to pick her guitar, loves to hunt and she definitely loves her fans.
Heidi Newfield, the former vocalist for Trick Pony, hosted her first fan club bash during the music festival. The blonde performed her recent songs and gave fans an up-close meet-and-greet. Heidi says she's very happy with her solo career.
Newcomer Sarah Darling is another blonde beauty who is stirring up a lot of action. A good singer, Sarah tries hard and is not afraid of work. So many good-looking girls want to get paid to decorate the place.
Sarah Buxton looks more blonde in some photos than in others. I guess that's why we have hair rinse, don't you think? Born in Lawrence, Kansas, Sarah is signed to Lyric Street Records. She co-wrote "Stupid Boy," the song that was a huge single for Keith Urban. It jump-started Sarah and her career.
Julie Roberts was employed at Mercury Records as assistant to boss man Luke Lewis when he accidentally discovered that the pretty blonde was a singer. So he signed her to the label. Not a lot has happened yet career-wise, but she has talent and may end up as the cream of the crop. Cream always rises.
A song titled "Blue" brought LeAnn Rimes to the attention of the world of country music and, until this day, it remains the best thing this blonde has ever sung. LeAnn recently co-starred in a TV movie, and rumor has it that she and actor Eddie Cibrian were spotted kissing in Los Angeles. Rimes denies that her marriage to dancer Dean Sheremet is in trouble. Time will tell.
Tall, thin and with long blonde hair, Jennifer Hanson could easily pass for a model. But the singer-songwriter is still betting on a career in country music. She's been trying for quite some time now and has had several nibbles, a few bites and a catch or two. She's a good person who is willing and able to work as a singer.
Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland is a major star. Her hair may be blonde, but it's always uncombed, so I'm not sure. I said once her hair favors mine: It looks like it's styled with an eggbeater. When you're as hot as this act, though, hair is not an issue.
Amber Dawn, part of the real cute group known as Jypsi, is sometimes blonde. Give this wonderful group an ear and thank me for turning you on to them. I think these kids are stars.
Sunny Sweeney is a Texas girl who was signed to Big Machine Records, but label exec Scott Borchetta has moved her over to his new label, Republic Nashville. Sunny writes songs and sings and is a cute girl, but I think she leans more toward the Americana genre.
Two singing blondes make up the duo of Bomshel. I'm really not that familiar with these girls and their music, but I can see they are very pretty and very blonde. Good luck.
There are a couple of blonde gals now signed at Universal South Records. One is Bailey Brown and the other is Ashley Ray. I don't know these girls. I've never even seen their picture. My friend, Fletcher, tells me they are beauties, so I take him at his word. He says they sing good, too. We will see.
Now what concerns me is country radio. Who will they play? Is there somebody seated in a big office in a big city telling the small-town radio guys and gals which songs they can play? What about country music fans? Don't they have any say as to what song they want to hear? Can my nieces call local radio and request their favorites? Or can I? Can you?
But back to where I started ... about the charts. How in the name of the Good Lord can we find enough chart space to include all of these blonde females along with the brunettes and redheads -- not to mention the guys? Just asking.
Joe Nichols dressed in his very best and trucked off to New York City to blow away the famous and near-famous when he sang "If I Loved You" from the Broadway musical, Carousel. Snobs and down-home folks like us gave Joe the standing ovation he deserved at the Songwriters Hall of Fame banquet.
Kenny Chesney invited his opening act, Jason Michael Carroll, to sing "Take It Easy" with him at his recent show in Somerset, Wis.
Has David "nailed" it? Looks like the "Red Light" single by David Nail might be something to brag about.
The happiest two guys in all of Music City this past week had to be Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry when they were inducted as the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. Their tour sponsor, Jim Beam, bought a full-page color ad in The Tennessean newspaper to congratulate them.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Taco Dip.