(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.)
By the time you read this, Whitney Houston will be buried in New Jersey, but her voice will continue to travel around the world with the sounds of "I Will Always Love You."
Surely the world knows it was actor-producer Kevin Costner, Whitney's co-star in the movie The Bodyguard, who insisted she sing Dolly Parton's most famous song. He knew the song would fit the movie and knew it would keep the soundtrack alive until ... well ... today. Whitney's version of "I Will Always Love You" returned to Billboard's Hot 100 chart last week at No. 7. It's a shame she had to leave this world for that song to take over the airways again.
I can still see Dolly at Porter Wagoner's funeral. Lord knows, that man adored Dolly, but she knew she needed to move on, call it quits from his syndicated TV show and find her own voice and identity. And she truly did that with "I Will Always Love You." She wrote the song for Porter and, pretty soon, they were history. So many people love Dolly's earlier songs -- and so do I -- but when I heard her sing "I Will Always Love You" for the first time, it gave me chills. Dolly was really thin at Porter's funeral. She was beautiful, of course, but she looked as sad as she could be.
Jeremy, my grandson, was watching the Grammy Awards with me. When LL Cool J led the prayer at the beginning of the show, I closed my eyes, but I'll admit I peeked a bit. What did I see? Half the people in the audience did not even bow their heads in respect to Whitney. Was the room filled with the non-caring or nonbelievers. As Jeremy pointed out, "Only the country music singers and R&B singers knew to bow their heads in prayer."
I must mention Jennifer Hudson's version of "I Will Always Love You" later in the show as a tribute to her late friend. What a beautiful/sad rendition.
As for the rest of the Grammys, I'm so proud my dear friends Alison Krauss & Union Station won the best bluegrass album award for Paper Airplane. The Civil Wars got two awards -- best country duo/group performance for their recording of the song "Barton Hollow" and best folk album for the album of the same title. Joy Williams, the female half of the Civil Wars, is expecting a baby in June.
Taylor Swift's "Mean" also scored two Grammys -- best country solo performance and best country song. Lady Antebellum received the best country album Grammy for Own the Night.
Carrie Underwood was the most beautiful woman on the entire show. Her dress was gorgeous. She sang the duet she recorded with Tony Bennett on his Duets II album.
It was pretty dadgum cool to see Paul McCartney on his feet, singing and dancing as Glen Campbell performed "Rhinestone Cowboy." And it brought tears to my eyes to hear "Gentle on My Mind" performed by The Band Perry during the tribute to Glen. It made me miss the late John and Marie Hartford. John wrote the marvelous song.
Martina McBride Expects Good Things
When Martina McBride felt her music industry team had given up on her, she began to question if her career had run its course. But all of that changed when she signed with a new management company and a new record label.
"I think when you surround yourself with people who believe in you and have passion for what you do, it empowers one to turn in a record and know good things are gonna happen," she says.
Go get 'em, Martina. Nobody's better than you.
Gary Allan Headlining Country Throwdown Tour
Gary Allan will be joined by the wonderful Josh Thompson, pretty Sunny Sweeney and newbie Eric Paslay for this year's Country Throwdown tour. Kicking off in Gulfport, Miss., on May 18, the 20-city tour will also feature Justin Moore, Rodney Atkins and more.
Fans, go out and see this big tour. Why? Because it's country!
Mr. Tillis Goes to Washington
During ceremonies at the White House last week, the great Mel Tillis was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama.
"I've had a blessed career, and that has been acknowledged in many ways over the years," Mel said. "I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call because I didn't know there were any more awards left to win. I'm very thankful -- and what an honor!"
Congratulations to Mel, actor Al Pacino, poet Rita Dove and all the others honored with the award.
James Otto Stays Busy Writing
If you're missing the wonderful country-soul vocalizing of James Otto, I thought you'd like to know he is busy writing songs. As a matter of fact, he's been writing in Belize.
By the way, James co-wrote the Zac Brown Band's latest single, "No Hurry," with Zac and his songwriting partner, Wyatt Durrette.
Watch Out for Kip Moore
From south Georgia, Kip Moore spent weekends at the beach and would grab his older brother's guitar to learn to play. During college on a golf scholarship, he was already writing songs every day. He performed throughout the South to make a living and even spent six months in Hawaii. He finally landed in Nashville on Jan. 1, 2004, driving an old Nissan truck and carrying one bag and his guitar.
Kip co-wrote "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" with writing buddy, Dan Couch. As he prepares to tour with Billy Currington and David Nail, it sure makes him feel good to know his single has already reached the Top 25 on Billboard's country songs chart.
Folks lined up for days in advance at a department store in Hendersonville, Tenn., in anticipation of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's appearance to promote their new his-and-her fragrances, Soul2Soul.
Ringo Starr is set to celebrate his birthday on July 7 in Nashville with a performance at the Ryman Auditorium. Boy, he has good taste!
This is a new one on me. Brantley Gilbert says he began writing songs because he was too lazy to learn someone else's. That is pretty lazy.
For the second consecutive year, Pollstar has named Nashville's Ryman Auditorium as its theatre of the year. It's the fourth time the Ryman has received the honor during the past decade.
Construction is underway on the Johnny Cash Museum, an 18,000-square-foot facility scheduled to open this summer on Third Avenue South in downtown Nashville. Johnny's brother and sister, Tommy and Joanne, were present at last week's announcement. Johnny's son, John Carter Cash, and his granddaughter, Chelsea Crowell, were also present for the occasion.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Crunchy Chicken Crescents.