HOT DISH: Pondering the Grammy Nominations

More News About Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Others

(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

With the Grammy Awards just around the corner, it's time once again to try and figure out how in God's name do the peeps at the Recording Academy decide who the nominees are. And how is it decided who chooses the nominees?

I scratched my head and said, "Kenny Chesney has eight entertainer of the year trophies -- four from the CMA and four from the ACM -- yet he's never received a Grammy nomination until now. And Kenny's first nomination is for his duet with George Strait, Shiftwork.' Lo and behold, the great George Strait has been awarded more statues by CMA than any other artist. He's been nominated for a Grammy but has yet to win one, either."

I must have been thinking aloud.

"Who are you talking to, Grandma?" asked Jeremy.

"Maybe the Lord," I replied, knowing full-well that even He might have trouble figuring out the Grammy answers.

Now, what about the nominations for Alison Krauss and Robert Plant? My friend Alison and her pal Plant have fiddle-farted around to receive three nominations for the same record in three different categories -- pop, country and folk/Americana! Does that top your cotton? Chalk one up for Alison. She doesn't care what the powers-that-be call her music. She's blessed to sing whatever she likes.

Carrie Underwood is nominated in the best female country vocal performance category for "Last Name." Let me tell you, I am so grateful and thankful that our youngsters like Carrie and Taylor Swift do not have the same shoddy dress code as Britney Spears and other Hollywood wild ones. I'm so proud that these young ladies respect themselves and their music. More than anything else, I am thankful that these ladies -- and others like Kellie Pickler, Julianne Houghand all the rest in country music -- wear underwear!

There! I said it, and I mean it.

The Eli Young Band's Success Keeps Building

The Eli Young Band is another one of those Texas groups that took root in Denton during college some eight years ago. Staying single, they played bars and clubs, did an indie record and traveled in used vans while playing 200 dates a year. Suddenly, the foursome got a bus, signed with Universal South Records and released an album titled Jet Black & Jealous. They are traveling as far west as New Mexico, hitting Denver, Kansas City and Chicago and selling out every place they go -- from blues clubs to Billy Bob's, the 6,000-seat honky-tonk in Fort Worth, Texas.

Like aged wine, the group has only gotten better through the years. A good looking band of guys, I've named the dude with the shaved head Curly. And then there's the guy with the hat, and I call him Hat Man. Radio is nibbling. They need a hit single, and it looks like they are on their way with that.

Tune in Feb. 7 for the Jim Carrey movie, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and get a good look at the Eli Young Band on CMT's Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith.

Dolly Parton's Songs on Broadway

The 9 to 5 musical will open on Broadway on April 7 at the Marriott Marquis Theatre in New York City. The play is based on the 1980 movie, also titled 9 to 5, co-starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman. Dolly wrote the title song during the shooting of the movie 28 years ago and has penned an additional 20-plus songs for the Broadway production.

Steve Martin Is Making Music

For decades, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen has had a banjo-playing best friend who just happens to be actor, comedian, musician and bestselling author Steve Martin, who is now set to release his own first full-length CD, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo on Jan. 27. McEuen produced the project which took two years to record in places like Dublin, Hollywood and Nashville and features singers like Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Mary Black and Tim O'Brien, as well as musicians such as Earl Scruggs, Pete Wernick and Tony Trischka.

Martin began writing banjo songs for the album a few years ago after playing banjo on Scruggs' Grammy-winning remake of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Martin's album includes 15 original tracks. He'll host Saturday Night Live on Jan. 31, followed by a Feb. 2 appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman and Feb. 3 visits to Good Morning America and Live With Regis & Kelly.

Nominated this year for a Grammy in the spoken word album category for Born Standing Up, the three-time Grammy winner will reprise the role of bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the new film, The Pink Panther 2, arriving in theaters on Feb. 6.

Even More News

Reba McEntire in the recording studio with producers Tony Brown and Mark Bright to work on her first album for the Valory Music Co.

Loretta Lynn in the studio with producer John Carter Cash for an album featuring new versions of her classic hits. She also plans to record an album of new songs.

Jamey Johnson and his label are still in the process of choosing his next single. He has great songs, but will radio play some of the lyrics?

The late John Hartford is ever smiling, ever gentle on my mind as I look forward to an upcoming exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The tribute to the great singer, songwriter and musician is scheduled to open Jan. 24.

No matter what you read elsewhere, Capitol Records tells me that Keith Urban still has not titled his forthcoming album that will be released on March 31.

Gene Watson got a call from Brad Paisley. Heck, yeah, Gene will open shows for Brad. Other openers for the new tour include Darius Rucker and Dierks Bentley.

Taylor Swift will headline her own concert tour beginning in April and continuing through August. This will be after she returns to the United Kingdom and performs for the first time in Australia. I wonder if her opening act in the U.S. will be Kellie Pickler. Those gals are buds.

Jack Ingram will be opening shows for Toby Keith in February.

Prayers going out to Little Jimmy Dickens, who is being treated for subdural hematoma at a Nashville-area hospital

Clay Walker joins Bo Jackson, Huey Lewis and Michael Bolton to play in the 50th annual Bob Hope Chrysler Classic hosted this week (Jan. 19-25) by golf legend Arnold Palmer.

The 2009 CMT Music Awards will broadcast live on June 17 on CMT and The fan-voted awards honor the best country music videos of the year. Host, venue and ticket info will be announced at a later date.

Remembering Jon Hager

The 67-year-old Jon Hager of the singing Hagers was found dead in bed in his apartment on Jan. 9. Jon had not been well since the sudden passing of his twin, Jim Hager, on May 1 of last year.

Buck Owens discovered the Hagers when they were performing at Disneyland and signed the brothers to a management, booking and recording contract. The duo appeared on the first Hee Haw episode in 1969 and remained on the series until 1988.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Tomato Soup.

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