(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.)
"Musicaires" should be in the dictionary to define some of the beautiful couples who made Forbes's just-released list of "Hollywood's Top-Earning Couples." Once you overlook the fact that they call Nashville -- not Hollywood -- home, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill raked in $28 million to put them at No. 11 on the list.
New Universal Music Group signee Josh Kelley and his wife, actress Katherine Heigl, claim $20 million to come in at No. 14.
Actress Nicole Kidman and her superstar husband Keith Urban -- who also have their primary residence in Nashville -- came in at No. 15 with $17 million. Leading the list are Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles, who brought in a whopping $122 million.
That is a whole lot of dollars. Enough dollars to call these couples musicaires. However, the Nashville folks are also associated with the movie biz. Tim is busy now doing a movie right here in town and has his name all over creation with Sandra Bullock in the hit flick, The Blind Side. Of course, I don't know how much of Tim and Faith's $28 million was from Hollywood and how much was generated through record sales and on the road.
The handsome Josh Kelley, brother to Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley, just signed his record deal with Luke Lewis, Ken Robold and the folks at the Universal Music Group's Nashville division. His wife has starred in the Grey's Anatomy TV series and in several films, including Knocked Up and 27 Dresses, so my uneducated guess is that Heigl has more money in her pocket than I have in my bank.
And I just cannot say enough grand words about the award-winning actress who's also known as Mrs. Keith Urban. She does not give a flip who is looking, Nic loves her hillbilly man. And they both made some serious money in 2009.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé need an Iowa hay baler to rake in all their dollars. I do hope they're happy. With all that moola, if they were sad ... what a pity.
Listen, I'm not saying money would make you happy. But I would like to have money -- lots of money -- just once to see how it felt!
And Youth Shall Prevail
What a way to start the New Year! Say, what are your plans for February?
The four kids who call themselves Gloriana have spent most of 2009 opening shows for Taylor Swift and will return to the road with the young superstar beginning in February.
Another youngster, Kellie Pickler, has been on the battlefront in Iraq with Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser. In March, she'll resume the middle slot in Taylor's tour.
By the way, those first concerts of the year will be taking place in Australia. Yep, the youngsters will be picking and singing Down Under, taking country music to all parts of the world.
Loving Josh Thompson
What a great guy! I told the folks at Columbia Records that I may just adopt Josh Thompson. He's so quiet and nice and writes such great songs and sings 'em like a saint. Josh loved music, but he didn't get a guitar until he was 21.
There's a lot of country music played in Wisconsin, but there's not a lot of stars from that great state. Josh worked for his dad in the concrete business beginning at the tender age of 12. Even after he moved to Music Town five years past, he worked on concrete jobs until he got a songwriting deal and an eventual label deal.
A native of Cedarburg, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, Josh has a deep-rooted love of music. As a teen, he discovered Merle Haggard and "Mama Tried." Besides Hag, he listened to cassettes by Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and others. You can't get richer country music roots than these.
He started a band and toured around Wisconsin and Michigan before finally moving to Nashville in 2005. In less than a year, he had a songwriting deal. But sometimes he had to wash concrete off with a garden hose to make a songwriting appointment. Josh penned the title cut to Jason Michael Carroll's album, Growing Up Is Getting Old. The powers that be at Columbia heard Josh's rendition of the song and wanted to hear more. He sang four songs and left. About an hour later, he got a call from Renee Bell in the label's A&R department asking if he wanted a record deal. When he stopped screaming, he answered, "Yes."
With his debut single, "Beer on the Table," rocking the airways, his album is set for a Feb. 23 release. Josh has a lot to celebrate, so he did what all newcomers do by coming out to my kitchen, where we taped CMT's Southern Fried Flicks.
Josh tells me he's all excited about going on the road with Eric Church on the 32-date Jagermeister Country tour which kicks off Feb. 9 in Baltimore. Josh and the boys will be traveling in a white van pulling a trailer. He's named his vehicle "Van-a-White."
Josh said all the right things to me. He loves and sings traditional country. And he still smiles when he tells about singing on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium on New Year's Day. "That by far is the greatest thing in my life," said Josh. You cannot help but love a boy who knows what's important.
Blue Collar Comedy Tour Returns
Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall are hitting the road with a brand new Blue Collar Comedy tour. Jimmy Corn, my lighting director for Southern Fried Flicks, recently went to Nebraska to tape a video for another project with Larry. You smart people who watch my TV show know that Larry the Cable Guy visited my kitchen, and you also know my grandkids were not about to miss Larry. Everybody in my family loves him. Before Jimmy headed to Nebraska, I asked him to please tell Larry that I said hello. He did. According to Jimmy, when he told him, Larry replied, "I just love that woman." And I get all teary every time I think of Larry saying those words. I feel so blessed -- just knowing that people like Larry don't forget.
Aaron Tippin and Commemorative Air Force
Aaron Tippin and the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) are joining forces to honor American military aviation and remind us of the men and women of the armed services who have sacrificed for our freedoms. Aaron will give his time and talents at various events across the nation. CAF is headquartered in Midland, Texas, and is an all-volunteer organization. Aaron is a pilot and the son of a pilot, which makes the organization doubly important to him. Aaron is also a supporter of our brothers and sisters in uniform. He's made six trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during the Thanksgiving holidays for the past six years.
Alabama-Based Company Making Splash in Country Music
Ronnie Gilley Entertainment, located in Enterprise, Ala., is active in all phases of the entertainment industry -- from writing and publishing songs to recording and managing artists. The company is involved in three independent record labels -- Country Crossing, Stroudavarious, BamaJam and Forest Church. They also produce the annual BamaJam Music & Arts Festival in southern Alabama that takes place June 3-5 and will feature Kenny Chesney as one of the headliners.
Gilley is also the developer of the country-themed Country Crossing destination resort near Dothan, Ala. The grand opening event took place this past weekend with 20 artists performing. On Sunday (Jan. 17), artists and local officials gathered for grand opening ceremonies at several of the businesses, including George Jones' Possum Holler Bed & Breakfast, Lorrie Morgan's Hot Chicken restaurant, John Anderson's Cafeteria, Darryl Worley's Worley Bird Saloon and the Grascals' Bluegrass Hollow RV Park.
Some More News
Luke Bryan performed his hit single "Do I" last week on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. He'll be hitting the road soon for his own shows as a headliner and guesting on Jason Aldean's tour.
Country Weekly magazine celebrated its 15th anniversary last week at the newly primed and painted Hard Rock Café in Nashville. In attendance were Darryl Worley, Trace Adkins, Emily West, Chuck Wicks, members of the Grascals and a bunch more.
Geico Insurance is soooo smart to use the great Charlie Daniels and his fiddle in its latest commercial. Charlie flat fiddled the strings off that instrument that had previously been played as a violin. Give the man an Emmy for naturally being himself.
Don't Miss CMT Radio's Cody Alan on Southern Fried Flicks
All you really smart CMT radio listeners will want to tune in to CMT on Saturday night (Jan. 23 for the movie, Coyote Ugly. Coyote might be ugly, but CMT Radio Live host Cody Alan isn't -- and he's my guest on Southern Fried Flicks. Turn on your TV and take a great big look at Cody. He's so cute, girls, and lots of fun. You won't want to miss this episode!
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Beef Macaroni and Cheese.