(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.)
Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band. Wow! It is a crying shame that all five acts nominated for entertainer of the year can't take home the trophy.
When asked who he thought would win big at the CMA Awards, Paisley smiled and said he didn't know, but he felt sure Miranda Lambert (who has nine nominations) would win something.
Brad, on his 38th birthday, was doing a round-robin interview with a bunch of hacks and flaks, including yours truly. I was glad to be there.
Brad looked great in his baseball cap, plaid shirt and jeans -- his usual around-town attire. I watched him answer question after question, making sense no matter how simple or sinister the question might have sounded.
Brad's a pro. He's done it for so long. I watched him as he started his career. During his chat with the media at the party celebrating his latest No. 1 single, "Water," I was fascinated with his explanation about the importance of his 1999 single, "He Didn't Have to Be." At the time, it seemed nobody in their right mind would have chosen a song about being a stepdad to release as their second single, but Brad did.
I recall being onstage with him at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville when he made his first appearance on the big stage at Fan Fair. It was hot as blue blazes, and he was looking good in his skintight jeans. As he sang "He Didn't Have to Be," fans wept. And they screamed and wanted an encore. Brad was happy but truly surprised at the reaction. He'd started a fire. I think he knew it that hot day in June. That was truly the beginning of his career because the fans and country radio got it. They loved the stepdad song.
In the meantime, a lot of water has gone under the bridge. Especially in 2010.
Water was a constant for most of us in Middle Tennessee in May. Brad was ready for his H20 World Tour, sponsored by a drinking water company. For his concerts, Brad planned to bring an outdoor water park and stage where Josh Thompson, Easton Corbin and Steel Magnolia could display their talents. Inside the venues, Justin Moore and Darius Rucker were to open the shows.
But before the tour launched, the heavy rains hit Nashville and brought more water than I'd ever seen in my life. It was a major flood, and virtually all of Brad's guitars and road gear were destroyed. He, his band and crew managed to quickly repair or replace the gear, though, and it was one of the most successful tours of the year.
During the No. 1 party, Brad reminded us that "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)" took his career to another level. Males and females alike loved it, radio played it and it became Brad's biggest hit yet. He was radio-friendly. His love ballads were believable and his funny songs edged into Roger Miller territory. Then he came out with the duet of "Whiskey Lullaby" with Alison Krauss, the song about three of the heaviest subjects imaginable -- alcoholism, infidelity and death.
I personally loved "Mud on the Tires." Little Jimmy Dickens and I were in that video. I was making mud pies. I don't remember what the Tater was doing, but we had fun that day.
Of course, Brad is married to actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and if you could see her pride when she watches him during interviews or when he's performing, you know in your heart that he's everything to her. Of course, when he wrote and recorded "She's Everything," the world knew Brad was singing the song for Kim.
I think it's Brad's time to be named the CMA's entertainer of the year. His singing, songwriting and guitar playing are equal to anybody on the planet, and his skills as an entertainer are head and shoulders above most. When Brad and Carrie Underwood finish hosting Wednesday's (Nov. 10) CMA Awards show, I'd love to see him walk away with the EOY statue. He deserves it.
By the way, Brad is singing a special song on the CMA Awards. He wanted me to hear it following his No. 1 party, but my son, Billy, had driven me downtown and had to pick up his daughter, Mattie, from kindergarten, so we had to leave. I'll be looking forward to hearing it during the awards show.
More Country Music News
Taylor Swift did it. According to SoundScan, the 20-year-old phenom sold 1.047 million copies of her new album, Speak Now, during its first week of release. She's No. 1 everywhere you look. And this time next year, as a partner of Elizabeth Arden, she will have her own fragrance line in stores. Take a smell of that, baby!
I see where Kid Rock will perform on the CMA Awards -- which is nice. Don't you think it would be great if they included bluegrass on the show?
Faith Hill and Martina McBride sang at Nashville's Loveless Barn to support the babies born at Baptist Hospital's Beaman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Nashville. Did you know they raised $225,000 -- and maybe even more? That's at least a quarter of a mil! Praise the Lord!
By the way, Martina and Train are the latest partners scheduled to perform together for CMT Crossroads. The episode is scheduled to air Nov. 20.
We didn't need Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to tell us how great the acoustics are in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. We already knew we had the best. During his visit to Nashville to help judge the American Idol auditions, Tyler compared the clubs and the music on Nashville's Lower Broadway to Boston on steroids.
The new Rascal Flatts Surgery Center is being built on the third floor of Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. The popular trio has raised more than $3 million for the pediatrics surgery center in Nashville.
Newcomer Brett Eldredge performed his self-written single, "Raymond," during Maria Shriver's recent March on Alzheimer's event in Southern California. Maria's father, Sargent Shriver, suffers from the disease, as does Brett's grandmother. Sargent Shriver will be remembered by his association with the Peace Corps, VISTA, Head Start, Legal Services for the Poor and other organizations. He was married to the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver and was active during John F. Kennedy's tenure as president.
God bless Tracy Lawrence. His fifth annual Mission Impossible turkey fry is set for Nov. 23 at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Once again, Tracy will be cooking for the homeless.
Why print the following names? Ron Gaddis, Keith Whitley, Brad Thompson, Jon Randall, Sammy Kershaw, Randy White. In case you're interested, these are the names of Lorrie Morgan's husbands. She recently married White, a Tennessee businessman.
In my heart, I believe Miley Cyrus and her siblings deserve better than what's happening in their lives after the news broke that their parents, Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, are getting divorced. Billy Ray, a good man, adopted the two children Tish already had from a previous marriage.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chess Cake.