CMT News

HOT DISH: Willie Nelson Revisits History With New Record Deal
More News About Taylor Swift, Kellie Pickler, the Eli Young Band and Others
Hot Dish
Hot Dish
(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 great Willie Nelson, the record makingest man of the entire kit-and-kaboodle, is taking a step back in history to sign with Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Entertainment.

From 1975 until 1993, Willie recorded for Sony's Columbia label, beginning with Red Headed Stranger, the album that changed his life. Fans will also remember Stardust, his album of pop music standards, that hung on the charts for 10 years.

Willie will be recording new music for Legacy, but he'll also be personally selecting music from his archives, including his tenure with RCA Records that began in the '60s. The deal calls for five brand new albums, with the first to arrive this spring.

"I'm really happy to be back home with Sony Music," he says. "We have been partners for many years -- all the way back to Pamper Music and Tree Music [publishing companies]. We share a great history, and I'm looking forward to many more years together."

Taylor Swift Receives Bling, Donates Books
Taylor Swift was awarded four platinum and gold certifications from RIAA in January. Platinum singles were presented to Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Jerrod Niemann and Blake Shelton and gold singles to Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert and Tim McGraw.

By the way, Taylor and Scholastic Books have donated 14,000 books to Nashville Public Library. Books may be checked out of the city's 21 branches. Some of the books will be given to low-income children, preschools and daycares, while others will be used as prizes for completing the summer's reading program. Thanks, Taylor!

Kellie Pickler Gains Top 10 Album, Gives Away Cat
Congratulations to Kellie Pickler, whose new album, 100 Proof, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's country chart and No. 7 on the Billboard 200 that includes all musical styles.

Kellie recently had to give away her cat, Pickles, because her songwriting hubby, Kyle Jacobs, is allergic to felines. Pickles has found a new home with a nice family in the beautiful state of North Carolina. If Kellie gets cat-lonesome, she's more than welcome to visit my grandson Jeremy's cat, Spooky.

Eli Young Band Going Strong on New Tour
My friends in the Eli Young Band kicked off the first leg of their Keep on Dreamin' tour last week in West Palm Beach, Fla. Singer-songwriter Eric Paslay is their special guest on the dates.

Several shows were already sold out before the boys got there including a two-nighter in Chicago! Go get 'em!

And while the rest of us will be flying kites in March, the Eli Young Band will be spending part of the month down under in Australia as the support act for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's tour.

Trisha Yearwood to Host Cooking Series
With two cookbooks to her credit, Trisha Yearwood will be hosting a new cooking show to air on the Food Network in April. She'll be sharing her food traditions with family and friends. The six episodes will be produced by Ellen Takisten, one of Oprah Winfrey's former producers. Trisha will also be singing on the show.

Tom T. Hall and Others From the Great State of Kentucky
Kentucky native and Country Music Hall of Fame member Tom T. Hall has joined Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and others to launch new promotional initiatives involving U.S. Route 23, also known as the Country Music Highway. The announcement was made last week.

Greats from the area include Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, the Osborne Brothers, Loretta Lynn, the late Keith Whitley and many others. The famed and near famed of Kentucky are pitching in to cultivate and discover new talent from the area and support music programs in the schools. You do recall that Dwight wrote and recorded "Readin,' Ritin' and Route 23 North" on one of his albums.

Jay and Allison DeMarcus Expanding Family
Allison Leigh is Madeline Leigh's mother and Jay's wife. Allison Leigh Alderson DeMarcus is a beauty queen who resides in Nashville. She competed in Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss America pageants. She's a triple crown winner because she held state titles in each competition. And she is married to Rascal Flatts member Jay DeMarcus.

Allison, an on-air correspondent for CMT Insider, is one of Nashville's most beautiful people. And, believe you me, she is that. Not only is she beautiful to look at, she is also one of the nicest people I know. I loved having Allison in my kitchen.

Allison and Jay were married on May 15, 2004. Their daughter Madeline Leigh was born Dec. 17, 2010. And they couple recently learned that another baby is on the way!

More News
Speaking of Rascal Flatts, their new album, Changed, is coming out in April. As lead vocalist Gary LeVox explains, "Everything in our professional life has changed. ... Hey, the single 'Banjo' is on the album."

During Lady Antebellum's recent concert in Bloomington, Ill., local radio station WBWN delivered a wedding cake to surprise new bride, Hillary Scott. What a sweet thing to do.

Nothing hurts worse than a broken tail bone. Ask Miley Cyrus, who broke hers while doing a flip on the sofa.

Wait until you see the album cover for new artist Casey James. Whee! He's purty!

Nashville's Ryman Auditorium will have its historic stage replaced for the first time since 1951 to handle the additional weight of equipment involved in presenting concerts these days. I understand they're leaving some pieces of the stage where legends like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams once walked.

Blake Shelton was surprised at his concert in Duluth, Ga., when Warner Music Group Nashville prez John Esposito and a bevy of folks from the label showed up and presented him with a platinum certification for his single, "God Gave Me You," and a gold one for his album, Red River Blue.

Miranda Lambert's guest appearance on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs Wednesday (Feb. 8). That pretty Louisiana boy, Harry Connick Jr., also will guest star in this episode.

Darryl Worley has signed with Tenacity Records.

More than 500,000 tickets have been sold for the Brothers of the Sun tour with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. It's shaping up to be one of the biggest tours for 2012.

As president of MCA Nashville, Jim Foglesong signed George Strait and Reba McEntire. As president of Capitol Nashville, he signed Garth Brooks. And he signed many others, too. Jim's been teaching at Vanderbilt University and will retire this spring. Thanks to the great Jim Foglesong, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins and Sugarland will join Keith Urban on the soundtrack for Act of Valor. Other new songs are performed by Montgomery Gentry, Josh Kelley, Lori McKenna, Jake Owen, Hunter Hayes and Wynonna. The soundtrack will be released by Capitol Nashville on Feb. 21.

I see where Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas will pay tribute to 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year honoree Paul McCartney during a sold-out gala on Friday (Feb. 10) in Los Angeles, two days prior to the 54th annual Grammy Awards. The tribute will also feature Duane Eddy, Norah Jones, James Taylor and Neil Young, along with other people whose names I do not know and will not try to say.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Quick and Easy Chicken Treat.
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