(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.)
From all reports in the media and on the street, Garth Brooks sure didn't disappoint the thousands of fans who were lucky enough to score tickets to the first night of his nine-show concert series that began Thursday (Dec. 16) in downtown Nashville. He performed two full-blown shows that night at the Bridgestone Arena, and it sounds like the second one might've been even more energetic than the first.
The sold-out concerts, which continue through Wednesday (Dec. 22), are taking place to raise money to help those who are still hurting following the flood that hit Nashville in May, but he also taped the first night of concerts for the Armed Forces Network. And he's assisting the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots program in Middle Tennessee by collecting toys at his concerts.
From my heart and the hearts of all those who love country music, thanks, Garth, for coming home to Nashville and giving folks a chance to have a place to live, food to eat and a Merry Christmas. You always come through for those in need, especially the children.
May the holidays be the best ever for you, Trisha and the girls. And may God continue to bless you and those you love.
Taylor Swift's Cover Girl and Bus Biz
Taylor Swift's famous face is about to grace ads for Cover Girl cosmetics. The 21-year-old superstar has been named spokesperson for the company's new NatureLuxe line. Yes, she turned 21 on Dec. 13, and her face has already appeared on the cover and in the pages of Glamour, Cosmopolitan and InStyle.
Besides all this and her music career, did you hear that Taylor may be the next Dolly Parton? No, she's not building Taylorwood, but she is getting involved in a tour bus business on Whites Creek Pike near Nashville. Taylormaid buses for the road.
Judds on Larry King Live
The Judds, on the West Coast for their Last Encore tour, stopped by CNN's Larry King Live during Larry's final week as the show's host. After 25 years, Larry is hanging up his suspenders. I, for one, will miss him. He's interviewed the famed, the near-famed and all varieties of newsmakers, including the Judds.
Wynonna told Larry she has a boyfriend -- a drummer she's known since she was 18. Who is it? Well, I checked around and found out it's Cactus Moser of Highway 101. Good for Wy. He's a cutie.
Celebrating Lee Brice
Lee Brice, who had the honor of co-writing Garth Brooks' No 1 single, "More Than a Memory," now has his own gold single. According to Billboard, Lee's "Love Like Crazy" is also this year's most-heard country song in America. It's no wonder. The song made history by staying on the Billboard charts for 56 weeks -- longer than any other single ever. That's over a year, pal.
Nashville's Golden Globe Nominations
Two songs from Nashville are nominated for Golden Globe awards in the category of best original song in a motion picture. "Coming Home," sung by actress Gwyneth Paltrow in the upcoming Country Strong movie, was written by Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges. "There's a Place for Us" was performed by Carrie Underwood in Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. She co-wrote it with Lindsey and David Hodges.
Loretta Lynn's Real Van Lear Rose
To celebrate the recent release of the multi-artist tribute album, Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn, Sony Music Nashville presented the Country Music Hall of Fame member with her very own rose variety. Named after her Grammy-winning album, it's called the Loretta Lynn Van Lear Rose.
The first plants will be delivered to her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., this spring. The rose color is described as apricot, but I've never seen an apricot as beautiful in color as Loretta's rose.
Having acted in the CBS series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, word has it that Rascal Flatts will spend a few days this spring shooting part of a miniseries based on a Civil War battle. I also see where band member Joe Don Rooney and his lovely bride, Tiffany, recently caught Garth Brooks' solo show in Las Vegas.
Justin Moore spent last summer opening shows for Brad Paisley. Miranda Lambert, the token female on the bill, was the other opening act. Jason admits that he loves Miranda's music. Says Justin, "She's different. She does her own stuff. I really respect her as an artist." Me, too, Justin! Me, too!
I like Charlie Monk, a longtime music industry executive in Nashville. Charlie is more than funny. Charlie sent out a photo of himself with Jamey Johnson and the Oak Ridge Boys' William Lee Golden to celebrate their home state. The caption read, "Three Wise Men From Alabama." That is crazy funny. Do officials in the great state of Alabama know Charlie dared do this?
The great George Jones will perform at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on March 12.
Joe Nichols is releasing a greatest hits package on Jan. 25 on the Show Dog-Universal label. The set includes hits like "Brokenheartsville," "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" and his most recent hit, "Gimmie That Girl."
Neal McCoy celebrates his heroes in his new book, A New Mountain to Climb, set for release in January. Based on his current single of the same title, he says the title caused him to think of people who have inspired him. Neal's hope is others will read the book and be inspired to find their heroes.
Lee Greenwood is set to headline the Sun Bowl halftime show on New Year's Eve in El Paso, Texas.
Billboard has named Easton Corbin its top new artist of 2010. That boy is hot!
Remember the name: Amos Lee. He performed with the Zac Brown Band on the recent CMT Artists of the Year special. I loved his vocals. You will, too.
Nashville's Kix Brooks and Bob DiPiero have been on a USO tour of the Middle East with Lance Armstrong and funnyman Robin Williams.
Publicist Kirt Webster's holiday party brought out 500-plus people. In the crowd, I saw Tony Conway, Paul Lohr, Lisa Konicki, Anita Cochran, Opry Dan, Nancy Cardwell, Fletcher Foster, Michael Campbell, Keith Anderson, the Roys, M.C. Potts, Michael McCall, Vernell Hackett, Deborah Evans Price, Jennifer Herron, Carolyn Tate, Phyllis Stark, Rondal Richardson, Brian Wagner and many others. It was a lovely party with oodles of food, drinks and fun.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chicken and Rice Casserole.