(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.)
The two-story house on the corner of 18th Avenue South and Chet Atkins Place on Nashville's Music Row was home to Mercury Records in 1990 when label chief Harold Shedd decided to bite the bullet and sign Billy Ray Cyrus to a recording contract. Sandy Neese headed up the publicity department, and Buddy Cannon, who discovered Billy Ray and is now Kenny Chesney's longtime producer, was running the A&R department.
They wanted me to hear Billy Ray's music for the first time. I sat down on a sofa against the wall in Shedd's office and listened. Keep in mind, Sandy had told me Billy Ray would be as big as Elvis. Those three people and a record promo gal named Patty were BRC believers. And they made a believer out of me.
Mercury released Billy Ray's debut single, "Achy Breaky Heart," and it became a monster hit on the country and pop charts in 1992. It spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's country chart. Jack McFadden managed Billy Ray and had him performing almost every night. He was big as Elvis. Well, almost.
With all that money rolling in, Billy Ray bought a farm south of Nashville and built a house. When daughter Miley was born, I thought he called her Smiley, but Sandy corrected me and said, "He calls her Miley. He's crazy about her."
It's been a long while since I've seen Billy Ray, but I'm betting he's the same boy from Flatwoods, Ky., who still respects his parents and adores his kids. Even though they're going through a divorce, Billy Ray most likely still loves his wife Tish. But from what I've heard and read lately, he wishes he'd never left his Tennessee home. After living in L.A., he's now back at home on the farm where Miley was born 18 years ago, Braison 16 years ago and Noah later on.
He wishes he'd never heard of the Disney TV series, Hannah Montana, starring his little girl. He's worried about Miley. Worried that those who make their living from her are keeping everyone else away from her.
When Miley turned 18 in L.A., Billy Ray didn't attend her birthday party because it was held at a bar, and he doesn't approve of underage young people being allowed in such a place. If that sounds old-fashioned, well, that's OK. That's the way Billy Ray is.
He had no idea when he moved to Hollywood that his family would be torn apart. When they moved from Tennessee four years ago, it was Tish who had the entire family baptized to protect them and keep them from harm's way. Even Tish has had her problems in L.A., and now Billy Ray has returned home alone.
The GQ magazine writer who recently interviewed Billy Ray didn't seem to understand how country people have their dreams come true and their prayers answered. Tongue-in-cheek comments by the writer led me to believe he doesn't really understand anything about Billy Ray, especially his faith. People like that are more to be pitied than scolded.
If Miley, Tish and the rest of the family do not respect Billy Ray and what he did to support and care for his family through the massive success of "Achy, Breaky Heart" and Hannah Montana, then they need some knees time -- on the knees in prayer time. As for Miley, she needs to rid herself of anyone who tries to keep her away from her daddy.
An 18-year-old is not mature enough to make adult decisions in Hollywood. There are more people who'd like to see Miley fail than to see her become a positive role model. Hollywood is filled with people who are afraid they'll lose their job if they ever disagree with a celebrity boss. Leeches such as this -- who suck blood until life is no more -- do not work. They just hang out and collect a salary.
Some Thoughts About the Grammys
You've got your faves from last week's Grammy Awards. I've got mine, too, so I must say the finest performance of night, hands down, was Mick Jagger. Sans Keith Richards, the pencil thin Jagger still has the vocals, the moves and the ever-so-tight britches. Yep, Mick put on quite a show.
Almost a third of Hillary Scott's beautiful face is now bangs! Do I like her do? I'm not sure. Hillary is naturally so beautiful, I can't help but wonder why the bangs. There are those who think the bangs are a hairpiece. I understand that her mama, singer Linda Davis, didn't know about the bangs until she saw her on the Grammys, where Lady Antebellum performed and took home five awards.
Female country vocal winner Miranda Lambert was absolutely fabulous looking and sang like an angel. Her man, Blake Shelton, was so cute while introducing her on the show. Miranda and Blake and Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman were the best-looking couples of the night. Keith, who won male country vocal honors, showed John Mayer how to pick and how to sing with Norah Jones. Am I crazy, or did Mayer look a lot like my favorite actor, Johnny Depp?
And I must mention Martina McBride, who sang her part with Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera and the other divas to honor the Queen of Soul. The difference between Martina and the other singers was that she performed a genuine tribute to the great Aretha Franklin. The others seemed like they were thinking, "Listen to me. Look at me. I'm great!" But not our Martina. She sang to Aretha like she was supposed to.
I have to say, I actually gagged when I saw Lady Gaga being carried queen-style into Staples Center in an oversized egg. When she stood up, that girl was nearly nude. Between that and Jamie Foxx acting as though he couldn't wait to utter the "F word," is it going to get to the point where we can't allow our children to watch the Grammy Awards?
Barbra, Kris and the Captain
Those who did not know the late Roger "Captain Midnite" Schutt missed a world filled with free information and a lifetime of laughter. All of us who knew the Captain had a love/hate relationship with him, but he was certainly loved by both Tompall Glaser and Waylon Jennings. As a matter of fact, the Captain used to sleep on a sofa in Tompall's office.
A first-class name-dropper, the Captain loved to tell of his roaring days with Kris Kristofferson before he became wealthy and famous. He had plenty of stories about Roger Miller and all the others. His firsthand reports of their activities often caused others to respond by saying, "They did what?" Of course, Kris penned all those hits, moved to Los Angeles and got into the movies.
Youngsters may not remember that Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson starred in the 1976 film, A Star Is Born. The movie was released and a became a huge box office hit before Kris finally had the time to come through town and spend some quality time with the Captain.
Watching the Grammys, a smile crept across my face as Kris introduced Streisand. I hoped the Captain was somewhere warm and comfy -- enjoying ice cream and Oreos and the Grammy show.
When Steel Magnolia made their debut on Late Night With David Letterman, they met Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the MVP of this year's Super Bowl.
Actor Dan Aykroyd was in the audience enjoying the Zac Brown Band at the House of Blues in L.A. during Grammy week.
Clay Walker walked away a winner at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament. He and his golfing partner -- singer Michael Bolton -- split the $19,000 purse between their favorite charities. Clay's portion goes to his foundation, Band Against MS.
I got four hearts for Valentine's Day -- one from each of my sons, one from the church and the other from my perfectly-marvelous CMT crew on Southern Fried Flicks -- cameraman John Lee, lights and sound (and all things great) tech Jimmy Corn, makeup and hair artist Michael McCall, stylist Martha Armstrong and also Bart, Jody, Audry, Matt, Anna and Billy. Thank God, from whom all blessings flow, for all these wonderful friends.
And I got cards, too. I loved the one from Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney, his beautiful wife Tiffany and their incredible children Jagger and Raquel Blue. The card featured a photo of the foursome. Tiffany and Jagger are wearing sets of Mick Jagger red lips with a red tongue -- and Joe Don is holding Raquel Blue.
Also got a great one from my friend Dave. Five-year-old Mattie drew my picture wearing a nightgown. Guess how she knew that?!
And there were others. Thanks to all!
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Old Time Buttermilk Pie.