(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.)
My all-time favorite singer is George Jones, and my all-time favorite song is "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Did you know those are Alan Jackson's favorites, too?
Tom T. Hall once said, "I've never talked to a country music performer who didn't say his or her favorite singer was George Jones." I recall Waylon Jennings singing a song that includes a line that goes something like, "If all of us could, we'd all sing like George Jones." I also vividly remember Bill Monroe saying, "George Jones is a singer. The man can sing anything."
Johnny Paycheck loved Jones, and so does Randy Travis. Melba Montgomery loves George's singing. Their duets were classic. Emmylou Harris loves his singing, and so did Gram Parsons. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones loves the Possum and his singing. Ditto for Marty Stuart and his wife, Connie Smith. Kenny Chesney and Jamey Johnson adore George and his singing. Everybody worth the salt in their bread loves George's singing.
Now George is not well.
"Not at all," according to his wife Nancy.
When I spoke with her on the phone, she was nearly in tears as she explained, "He has allergies. It's hard for George to breathe."
She has been by George's side for 30 years. She stayed with him when he was in the hospital. She's his constant companion. She knows him better than anyone, and I can tell you, his well-being is a major concern for Nancy. Everyone in the music business -- all of those I know, anyway -- totally respect Nancy. Like me, they know Nancy has saved her man's life many times.
He's had to cancel some tour dates recently. According to his website, however, he's scheduled to begin performing again with a May 25 concert at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
I hope all of you will join me and others in prayer for George and Nancy. This is a man we need in country music.
George and Nancy, I love you. May God bless and heal you.
Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert Spend Quality Time in California
Blake Shelton popped up and sang "Honey Bee" midway through wife Miranda Lambert's recent concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif. RaeLynn, a former member of Blake's team on NBC's The Voice, sang Maroon 5's "Wake Up Call" with Miranda at the Stagecoach festival in Indio, Calif. Also joining Miranda onstage at Stagecoach were Blake, Luke Bryan, the Pistol Annies, Sunny Sweeney and Justin Moore for a mass encore of Roger Miller's "King of the Road."
By the way, Blake's recent concerts grossed $474,685 in Sacramento, Calif., and $439,044 in Seattle. Maybe he'll write a generous check for Miranda's Paws for the Cause fundraiser that's coming up soon in Texas.
Jay and Allison DeMarcus Expecting a Boy
"The fans have always been faithful," Rascal Flatts member Jay DeMarcus said in a recent interview. "There's been times we felt a lack of support from the music industry, but the fans have never let us down. When they get a chance to have a voice, they speak loud and clear."
The fans are most important, Jay! But there's another item of utmost importance for the DeMarcus household. With a new baby due in August, the family had settled into the idea of a baby sister for Madeline, who celebrates her second birthday in December. Said Allison, "There's 21 months between my sister, Ava, and myself, and we had such a happy childhood. Our babies will be the same -- 21 months apart." (By the way, Ava is married to James Otto.)
As it turns out, all this saving girlie clothes for a little sister is a waste of time, though, because Allison and Jay have named their unborn baby Dylan Jay DeMarcus. You got it! The new baby is a boy -- a brother for Madeline. I phoned Allison and left word that I expect Jay has washed his last dish, changed his last diaper and wiped his last nose.
Willie Nelson's Mind Remains on Music
Willie Nelson turned 79 on April 30, and his mind is always on making music. He's back with Sony Music, where he spent from 1975 until 1993 recording his best music, including the legendary Red Headed Stranger and Stardust albums.
His first album after returning to the company is Heroes, which arrives May 15. A collection of top-flight songs from the '30s and '40s and new songs by Willie and sons Lukas and Micah, the music is performed with the homespun warmth that has become his trademark. Special guests on Heroes include Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Billy Joe Shaver, Snoop Dog and Jamey Johnson.
Also set for release May 15 is Occupy This Album, a four-CD compilation featuring Willie, Yoko Ono, Jackson Browne, Loudon Wainwright III, Lucinda Williams and many others. Willie contributed a previously-released track, "Peaceful Solution," to the project that supports the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Willie is also recording a Paul McCartney song for a tribute album set for release later this year. McCartney turns 70 on June 12. Others performing songs from his Beatles, Wings and solo catalog include Billy Joel, Brian Wilson, B.B. King, Steve Miller, Jeff Lynne, Heart, Wanda Jackson, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Ronnie Spector, the Cure and Corinne Bailey Rae.
Of course, Willie teamed up with Lionel Richie for a remake of the Commodores' "Easy" for Lionel's Tuskegee album which features a bevy of hillbillies and is still selling like hotcakes.
Zac Brown Band Hosting Music and Food Festival
The Zac Brown Band's second annual Southern Ground Music and Food Festival is ready to get down again Oct. 20-21 in Charleston, S.C. Executive chef Rusty Hamlin will be there, and additional concessions will be available from "Cookie," the band's tractor-trailer sized mobile kitchen which will offer a la carte items from Brown's recipes as well as selections from Charleston eateries.
Kenny Rogers' Career Heats Up -- Again
Kenny Rogers is putting the finishing touches on his autobiography set for a fall release. And just as the news came that Kenny's two shows this week at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Ford Theater are sold out, it was announced that he has been added to the lineup for the Bonnaroo festival set for June 7-10 in Manchester, Tenn. Other acts at the mostly-rock festival include Radiohead, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Phish.
In August, he'll be appearing in New Zealand and Australia. His fans in the U.S. can again count on Kenny for his annual Christmas and Hits tour featuring holiday classics and some of his biggest hits.
Toby Keith's USO Trip
Toby Keith's latest USO tour reached 26,000 troops in 12 days. To date, Toby has raised the spirits of 182,600 U.S. servicemen and women in 14 countries, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Iraq, Italy, South Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan and Macedonia.
Thanks, Toby. You are the best to give time and entertainment for our service people. May God continue to bless and keep you and those you care for.
Look for Luke Bryan, Dolly Parton and Gloriana on the season premiere of NBC's The Bachelorette on May 14.
The Mavericks had already been stirring up things in Music City before their recent performance at the Stagecoach festival in Indio, Calif., where I'm told you couldn't walk for all the people who showed up to see them. They've been getting nothing but positive reviews. Their new album is set to be released later this year.
Justin Moore's current single, "To My Last Day," is about a man trying to be better for his woman. Ella and Kennedy, Justin's very young daughters, got him thinking about the kind of man he wants his girls to meet and fall in love with. However, he finally concluded, "I need to be dead before they date."
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Good Casserole.