HOT DISH: 'American Idol''s Bucky Covington Excited About New Album

More News About Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Toby Keith and Kip Moore

(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

Like every time before, Bucky Covington walked into my house with his arms filled with beautiful flowers for me. A native of Rockingham, N.C., the American Idol runner-up was off to a promising start in country music when Disney closed Lyric Street Records in Nashville in 2010, leaving him and others without a label home.

Fortunately, Bucky had already cultivated a strong fan base, so he continued touring, mostly in the Southeast. Being a Southern gentleman, he kept smiling and laughing and singing and writing songs and treating fans like family.

Days became weeks -- and weeks became months -- but he finally found a new label home in October 2011 when he signed with the Nashville division of eOne Music.

Bucky lives north of Nashville near Gallatin, Tenn., where he has 100 acres. His twin brother Rocky has something like a dozen acres -- and a wife. Rocky plays in Bucky's band. The identical twins are as close as ever. They've got all the toys they can afford and are buying a couple of four-wheelers. Bucky, born in the racing world of Rockingham, plans to drive a legends car on Aug. 11 at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Meanwhile, he's working on his sophomore album, Good Guys, to be released later this year. His favorite song on the album is the self-penned "Drinking Side of Country," a duet with Shooter Jennings. Bucky had a huge grin when he told me about producing his own album. But when he told me he'd produced Shooter Jennings' session for the album, too, his smile went ear to ear and then some.

"Producing someone else, now that's a whole lot higher than producing oneself," said Bucky.

The single by Bucky and Shooter is at radio. The album arrives Sept. 11.

"We've done a video with a Dukes of Hazzard theme -- starring Kellie Pickler as Daisy Duke," Bucky laughed. "When Kellie walked onto the set wearing a skin-tight T-shirt, she was Daisy Duke from the hills of North Carolina. Kellie was something else."

Since he and Kellie were on American Idol together, they've been pals for years.

I had to know what it was like working with Shooter, so I asked, "Bucky, when you were producing Shooter, did you ever just stop and say to yourself, 'That's Waylon Jennings' son'?"

With that, Bucky dropped his head and reached for my hand. He didn't say. He didn't have to. And I was not about to let him cry into my delicious homemade cheesecake the Kraft foods folks had me make for CMT's Southern Fried Flicks.

Ain't show biz grand?! Even when it's better to laugh than cry.

Taylor's Money

Taylor Swift is the highest-paid celebrity under age 30, according to Forbes magazine. She earned an estimated $57 million between May 2011 and May 2012. The tally accounts for album sales, concert revenues and endorsements, as well as film revenue, profit participation and advertising work.

Justin Bieber came in second with $55 million.

Team Blake Vocalist Gets a Record Deal

RaeLynn, the fair-haired 18-year-old singer from Baytown, Texas, has signed with the Republic Nashville label, a division of the Big Machine Label Group, following her appearance on the second season of NBC's The Voice.

She was on Blake Shelton's team and performed the Pistol Annies' "Hell on Heels" during her blind audition. Since then, she has appeared with Miranda Lambert at California's Stagecoach Festival and has been writing and recording songs for her first album.

On Sunday (July 29), RaeLynn will perform in Indianapolis at the Brickyard 400 with labelmates Martina McBride, The Band Perry, the Eli Young Band, Sunny Sweeney and Greg Bates during a concert sponsored by Big Machine.

Josh Thompson Exits Sony

I see where my friend Josh Thompson has exited RCA's artist roster. Josh was first signed to Columbia before moving to RCA in a corporate restructuring of Sony Music Nashville. The multi-talented Josh released his debut album, Way Out Here, in 2010.

His singles include "Beer on the Table," "Way Out Here" and "Won't Be Lonely Long." As a songwriter Josh's credits include Jason Aldean's "Church Pew or Bar Stool" and Brad Paisley's "A Man Don't Have to Die."

With four decades to my name in the music business, without fear, I'll yell from the rooftops, "Josh Thompson is a star."

Three Great Men Being Honored by Leadership Music

A trio of music icons and humanitarians -- Charlie Daniels, Vince Gill and Randy Owen -- will be honored as recipients of the 2012 Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award. The threesome will be saluted at the annual cocktail reception and musical tribute on Oct. 17 at Nashville's War Memorial Auditorium.

These three have left their mark over the past decades by giving back to the community and various charities. There are no finer three men in this town or any other town. We are blessed with their goodness and kindness and faith. I am proud to call each of them my friend.

Miley Cyrus Still Mining Platinum

Although she hasn't released an album since 2010's Can't Be Tamed and is in the midst of recording a new one, Miley Cyrus is still achieving success with her music. "Ready, Set, Don't Go," her duet with dad Billy Ray Cyrus, has just gone platinum for digital sales of 1 million copies. Her summer smash from 2009, "Party in the U.S.A.," is on its way to being quintuple platinum.

Besides the precious metal, Miley has a diamond on her ring finger about the size of a grape from her fiance, Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth.

Kitty Wells: A Precious Memory

A while back, someone asked Country Music Hall of Fame member Jean Shepard about the other female artists who were around when she began her recording career. Jean answered honestly, "Kitty."

It was those two. Now Kitty is gone. The Queen of Country Music died July 16 at her home in Madison, Tenn., at age 92.

I used to see Kitty shopping at the local Kroger, pushing her own buggy up and down the aisles. Nobody else in the grocery store probably knew she was the one who gave credibility to females in country music with a song titled "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels."

Kitty and her late husband, singer Johnnie Wright, were fine Christian people. For years, they attended the huge Church of Christ in Madison.

We have lost one of the greatest song stylists that ever walked onto a stage. She is now a precious memory and will forever be in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

More News

When the box offices opened recently, Jason Aldean sold more than 24,000 tickets in two minutes in Indianapolis and another 20,000 tickets in four minutes in St. Louis.

Kip Moore's "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" is certified platinum.

Lionel Richie's Tuskegee is the best-selling album for the first half of 2012.

Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" has been certified double platinum. That's 2 million downloads, honey.

Little Big Town will release their new album, Tornado, on Sept. 11. Featuring the group's hit single, "Pontoon," five of the album's 11 songs were co-written by the foursome.

Glen Campbell, who continues to tour after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, has canceled his concerts in Australia and New Zealand. "Travel concerns" are the main reason for the cancellations. It's just too far to fly with that disease. Lord bless Glen Campbell.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id="1690115"]Potato Salad.[/news]

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