(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.)
Did you know Alison Krauss has amassed more Grammy Awards than any female in all genres of music -- 26, to be exact. More than Aretha Franklin, Loretta Lynn or Alison's hero, Dolly Parton. She has sold over 10 million albums, received eight awards from the CMA and another two from the ACM.
Once she started achieving widespread success in the '90s, every record label in Nashville chased her and tried to sign her to a deal, but Alison still remains loyal to Rounder, the independent label she signed with when she was still a fiddle-playing teenager. She quietly became the biggest secret in country music. Acoustic music was her forte, and she's never drifted very far from its boundaries. Call her bluegrass, acoustic, Americana or country. She's not concerned with being categorized. And while the critics love her, she pays very little attention to what anyone writes or says about her.
She's been here, yonder and everywhere the past few years. She recorded a Grammy-winning album with former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant, and the two sold out tours in Europe as well as the U.S. Her pristine vocals and musicianship was obviously music to the rock legend's ears.
Alison and Union Station are back with a new album, Paper Airplane, that debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's country chart and No. 3 on the all-genre Billboard 200.
Watching CMT, I saw the "Paper Airplane" music video. It was such a joy seeing Alison just being herself in black and white video -- swinging, singing and enjoying herself while looking totally cool. It's hard to believe that same sweet girl traveled half the world last year and spent several mornings in my kitchen over coffee and sausage biscuits.
After kicking off their tour in Louisville, Ky., in early June, Alison, Union Station and the great Jerry Douglas will be following the wind -- sort of like a paper airplane. They've already got tour dates scheduled through late September.
Other than a few exceptions, including her 1995 tribute to Keith Whitley, "When You Say Nothing at All," and her 2004 duet with Brad Paisley on "Whiskey Lullaby," Alison has never gotten the sort of radio airplay she deserves. Radio programmers, will you at least give a listen to "Paper Airplane"? Surely you love killer music.
In the meantime, coffee's on, Alison. Sausage biscuits are waiting.
Kid Flies In and Out
Kid Rock, his son Junior and Junior's friend -- along with the Kid's lady, Miss Audrey -- flew from Motor City to Music City to attend friend Bob Seger's sold-out concert at the Bridgestone Arena. When the concert was over, the foursome flew to the Bahamas for a little R&R. Then I heard the Kid was in Paris. (Paris, Tenn., not Paris, France.) That's where his pal Hank Williams, Jr. lives. Seems Hank had Manuel, the great tailor, design the Kid a fishing coat with rhinestones on the sleeve.
Faith Hill, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn and Taylor Swift are among the 70 female artists featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" exhibit opening May 13 in Cleveland. Items on display include a 1964 telegram from Dusty Springfield to Brenda, Faith's Versace outfit worn during a CBS special in 2000, Loretta's pink gown worn in her "Portland Oregon" video and Taylor's handwritten original lyrics for "Change."
Ashton Shepherd's new MCA album is titled Where Country Grows. I like to hear her sing.
The Voice, the NBC talent competition series featuring Blake Shelton as a judge and mentor, outrated Glee last week but came in second to Dancing With the Stars. With 10 million people watching Blake, I hope they each buy a copy of his new album when it's released on July 12.
"I fell in love with a sad song and a teardrop at a young age," said singer-songwriter Bradley Gaskin. If there's any fairness left on this earth, Bradley and his debut single "Mr. Bartender" will top the chart and stay there for a while. Thanks, John Rich for bringing this guy to town.
Kenny Chesney has landed his 20th No. 1 single on the Billboard chart with "Live a Little." He's already sold over 850,000 tickets on his Goin' Coastal tour and sold out his third night at Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver in just 10 minutes. "Three Nights in Colorado" sounds like a song title, Kenny.
Huey Meaux, who produced Freddy Fender's "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," died April 23 at his home in Texas. Meaux, who was known as the Crazy Cajun, played a key role in the early success of the Sir Douglas Quintet and also produced B.J. Thomas' pop remake of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."
Remembering the Other Hazel
Bluegrass was a man's music -- at least until Hazel Dickens took the stage. Tough as the slopes of West Virginia, where she was born and raised, she went onstage with her guitar and opened her mouth wide to let her songs waft across the flowers, trees and people that grew wild on those beautiful hillsides.
The eighth of 11 children born in a mountain shack, she wrote and sang about what she knew -- coal mines, dead babies, mother, love and hunger. Her daddy, a banjo picker and a Baptist preacher, hauled lumber to the mines and only allowed his children to listen to the music of Uncle Dave Macon, the Monroe Brothers, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Martha Carson and the Carter Family. The radio was one of the family's few possessions. Poor mountain folks seemed to soothe their hunger with music.
When Hazel was a small child, she became very ill and was nearing death. Her mother would not give her up. She carried her daughter on her back across the mountain to the doctor. She lived and set the stage for females in bluegrass, country and folk music.
Hazel died April 22 in Washington, D.C., of complications from pneumonia at age 75.
What a legacy of music she left. Blessed with an untrained voice but God-given talent, her albums with folk singer Alice Gerrard were the harmony foundation for the Judds, West Virginia's Kathy Mattea, Emmylou Harris and many others.
All you bluegrass singing girls, let's give Hazel a big hand.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Banana Fruit Bread.