(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.)
All I'd heard was that Lee Ann Womack, Eric Church, Willie Nelson and the Dixie Chicks were performing at a benefit in Greenwich, Conn., for the China Care Foundation. So I began scratching and clawing to find out more about China Care and who was behind the event.
First off, I found out that Matt Dalio is chairman of the China Care Foundation and is an MBA candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The son of billionaire hedge fund boss Ray Dalio, the 27-year-old made his first trip to China when he was 11. At age 16, he spent a year working in China at an orphanage.
"I started a foundation to address a need," wrote Dalio. "I designed and implemented the establishment of five China Care Homes to provide over 300 financial aid grants, 400 foster placements and over 1,000 surgeries." He has raised more than $12 million for the charity.
The invitation-only concert took place June 23 at an exclusive waterside club.
Apparently, Lee Ann looked movie-star great and sounded as wonderful as she looked. Church followed Lee Ann and sang all his hits and must have been a hit with the audience.
Next, it was Willie time. He performed for about two hours, and the crowd loved him. No matter if Willie turned 79 this year, he's still a superstar and can still carry a tune with the best of 'em.
Then came the Dixie Chicks, who were reportedly just killer great. Lead singer Natalie Maines is "thin as a rail," so I was told. "She has her hair cut very short and colored dark brown." Martie Maguire was fiddling and Emily Robison was picking that banjo like a saint.
"They are better than ever," said my friend, who lucked up on this trip. The Dixie Chicks are superstars, and it's a shame they aren't onstage every week doing what they do best -- picking and singing.
Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw Tour
Cuter than ever and singing like a savior, Kenny Chesney recently performed on NBC's Today. I never saw so many females with cups that runneth over in my life -- and all in Kenny's face. I don't know how in the world Kenny could sing with all those staring at him, but he did.
Then Kenny and Tim McGraw brought the Brothers of the Sun tour to Nashville for a total sellout of LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. Some female tried to crawl over a fence to get inside the stadium, but she got stopped. I've done some dumb stuff in my life, but I've never tried to climb over a fence to a concert.
At the tour stop at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., hometown hero and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery joined McGraw onstage to help him sing "I Like It, I Love It."
Rascal Flatts, Labelmates Hope to Outnumber Hunger
Have you heard about the Outnumber Hunger bus that features the Big Machine Label Group's Rascal Flatts, the Eli Young Band and Edens Edge? They've all teamed up with General Mills this summer to help Feeding America secure meals for local food banks. At each of the 35-plus stops on their tour through the end of October, Outnumber Hunger will make a donation to Feeding America to provide 5,000 meals for each city's food bank.
Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire and Martina McBride are already pictured on specially-marked packages of General Mills products.
Carrie Underwood Set for CMA Songwriters Series in Boston
Carrie Underwood will appear for the first time with super songwriters Brett James, Luke Laird, Hillary Lindsey and host Bob DiPiero when the CMA Songwriters Series returns to Boston on July 31.
"We first brought the songwriters series to Boston last year and it was a huge success," said Country Music Association CEO Steve Moore. "We are so excited to have Carrie participating in this event."
Said Carrie, "I'm so excited to be a part of the CMA Songwriters Series with Hillary, Luke, Brett and Bob. Not only are they some of the best songwriters in Nashville, but I am lucky to call them my friends. It'll be a great night."
Don Williams Has a Top 20 Album
Country icon Don Williams' first recording project in eight years, And So It Goes, has made a Top 20 debut on Billboard's country albums chart. From sea to shining sea, fans are no doubt lined up for Don's masterpiece featuring Alison Krauss, Keith Urban and Vince Gill.
Reunited with longtime producer Garth Fundis, Don recorded an album that's nothing but great from beginning to end.
Billy Ray Cyrus will make his Broadway debut in the long-running production of Chicago as Billy Flynn, the silver-tongued devil of the courtroom. He'll be appearing in the musical at the Ambassador Theater from Nov. 5 through Dec. 23.
Bet you haven't heard the big news that 26,000 fans bought tickets to watch the Eli Young Band's recent concert in Grand Prairie, Texas. And they were the only act on the bill!
During Lee Brice's recent appearance on NBC's Today, it appeared to me that co-host Hoda Kotb was all over him. Lee didn't seem to mind.
Willie Nelson hosted his first annual Cut-n-Putt Celebrity Golf Tournament on Saturday (June 30) in Spicewood, Texas. Jamey Johnson, Ray Price, Ray Benson, Billy Joe Shaver, Earl Campbell, Sonny Throckmorton and Amy and Paula Nelson were scheduled to participate in the event at the Pedernales Golf Club, also known as Willie Nelson's Cut-n-Putt. As Willie describes it, "The golf course is eight songs from Austin."
The Bellamy Brothers and the Bacon Brothers are rereleasing "Guilty of the Crime," their collaboration from a few years ago. The track is featured on David and Howard Bellamy's Let Your Love Flow: The Ultimate Bellamy Brothers Collection and singer, songwriter and actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael's Philadelphia Road -- The Best of the Bacon Brothers.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chicken Fried Rice.