(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 you read my column last week, you know I wrote that Brad Paisley deserved the CMA's entertainer of the year award. And after several years of nominations, Brad finally took the trophy home following Wednesday's (Nov. 10) awards show.
Brad cried. His wife Kim cried. I cried, but I'm sure Buck Owens smiled from heaven when they announced Brad's name as the EOY winner.
And wasn't Brad's new song, "This Is Country Music," a killer? We are what Brad wrote in the lyrics. We sing about honky-tonk Saturday nights and Sunday morning church.
For all the times I said nobody could host a CMA Award show as well as Vince Gill, well, I was wrong. Brad and Carrie Underwood scored big time this year when they returned as hosts. I must thank plumb perfect Vince for being a helpmate to actress Gwyneth Paltrow when she performed "Country Strong" from the soundtrack of the movie with the same title. Not only did Vince help out with the vocal harmonies, it was obvious his mere presence gave her additional confidence.
Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton are country music's power couple. She's the female vocalist, album and video of the year winner. He's male vocalist, and he and Trace Adkins won the musical event category for "Hillbilly Bone." Like Brad, Blake wept, too. I'm so proud our men are not ashamed to weep. I'd bet they pray, too.
I wish Blake and Miranda all the happiness life has to offer. And, hey, since Miranda joked after one win that she and Blake need to go to church, let me be the first to invite you to Dickerson Road Baptist Church in Nashville. Guitars are welcome!
Lady Antebellum were named vocal group of the year, and they also scored in the single of the year category for "Need You Now." They sing like angels.
Congratulations to all the other winners, especially my friend, Zac Brown. He and his wonderful band were honored with the new artist trophy.
Keith Urban Previews New Album
The Monday before the CMA Awards, Keith Urban held a listening party for the release of his seventh Capitol Records Nashville album, Get Closer. During the event at the Hard Rock Café in downtown Nashville, invited guests got to hear tracks from his latest project. Keith also surprised the crowd with a live performance that included "Put You in a Song" and "Without You" (from Get Closer) and "Walkin' the Country" (from his days as a member of the Ranch).
During the party, Capitol Nashville boss Mike Dungan surprised Keith with a platinum plaque commemorating shipments of more than 1 million copies of his previous album, Defying Gravity. As he looks forward to Tuesday's (Nov. 16) release of Get Closer, all of Keith's past solo albums have now been certified platinum.
Hank, Popcorn and White Whiskey
Wait until you see the movie that has yet to be made!
People around Cocke County in East Tennessee say Popcorn Sutton manufactured the finest moonshine in the state beginning in the 1970s. Popcorn never bothered anybody with his business enterprise, but his business just happened to be against the law. As luck would have it, feds arrested him and planned to put him away. Following a trial, he was sentenced to 18 months in a federal penitentiary and fined $5,000. The five grand was for not paying taxes on his illegal whiskey.
Jamie Grosser and Popcorn were friends. After the trial, Grosser visited him and said he wanted to continue his legacy of making Tennessee white whiskey. When he asked for the recipe, Popcorn told him, "Corn, sugar, water and yeast. And here's the recipe, but you have to promise to go on a mission and find Hank Williams Jr. because a country boy can survive. He'll know what to do."
Popcorn gave him the recipe with the promise Grosser would find Hank to share the legacy. But before he could get to Hank, Popcorn committed suicide. He didn't have five grand and, besides, he had no intention of being locked up inside four walls away from sunshine and trees and all that goes with loving the outdoor life. He was determined he was not going to be locked away in prison.
Grosser found Hank and told him the story. The more Hank thought about Popcorn's legacy, the more he knew he had to legally manufacture the old man's liquor. Partnering with Grosser and using Popcorn's recipe, they're now running one of the first federally-approved white whiskey distilleries in America. And it's being made in Nashville.
To announce his latest venture, Hank hosted a party last week and invited some of his friends to make them aware Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey is now on the market.
Yes, I attended Hank's party. The party also attracted folks like Jamey Johnson, Kid Rock, Josh Thompson, Travis Tritt, Colt Ford, Martina McBride, Rodney Atkins, Randy Houser, Zac Brown, Tanya Tucker, members of Little Texas, Dave Gibson, Lee Brice, Little Big Town, Eddie Montgomery, the Kentucky Headhunters, Two-Foot Fred, the Roys, Heidi Newfield and Jaron Lowenstein, along with live music by the Grascals.
Popcorn's story has been told in TV documentaries, but I'm expecting a big Hollywood film with a soundtrack filled with music from Hank and his friends. If that doesn't happen, I still think all of Hank's friends will be returning for his next big party.
This year's BMI Country Awards could've been called the Taylor Swift Awards. Twenty-year-old Taylor was honored with the performing rights organization's songwriter of the year award. She and co-writer Liz Rose shared the song of the year honor for "You Belong With Me."
The BMI Icon award went to Billy Sherrill, a songwriter and record producer who shaped an Alabama country girl named Wynette Pugh into a superstar after he renamed her Tammy Wynette. He produced her records, wrote and co-wrote songs for her and with her and also produced records that made Charlie Rich and others superstars. Billy kept 16th Avenue hopping during his heyday and helped make country music widen its appeal to mainstream America.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Texas Style Enchiladas.