TODAY IN COUNTRY MUSIC HISTORY
(Thurs., Feb. 28)
Jim Denny, music executive and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, was born in 1911.
Audrey Williams was born in 1923.
Don Helms, steel player with the Drifting Cowboys, was born in 1927.
Joe South was born in 1940.
Tennessee Ernie Ford released his first single, "Tennessee Border No.1," in 1949.
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith died at age 72 in 1971.
Barbara Mandrell performed at the Universal Amphitheater in 1986. It was her first show after her car accident.
MUSIC AND MORE
COUNTRY'S NIGHT AT THE GRAMMYS
The 44th Annual Grammy Awards turned out to be a big night for the old-time sound of bluegrass as the soundtrack from the Coen brothers movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" grabbed five awards, including album of the year.
"O Brother" also won for best compilation soundtrack album and its producer, T Bone Burnett, was named non-classical producer of the year in ceremonies held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Two songs from the album were also singled out. Ralph Stanley, the 75-year-old bluegrass legend, won for male country vocal performance for "O Death," and Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen and Pat Enright -- The Soggy Bottom Boys -- won for country collaboration with vocals for "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow."
Burnett also picked up a traditional folk album Grammy for "Down from the Mountain."
Asked backstage to explain the popularity of the "O Brother" soundtrack, Burnett said it isn't that easy. "Really, this is music for people who like music," he said. "Not everybody does. Music annoys some people. They just don't care for it. But if you do like music, then chances are you like this record."
The Recording Academy on Wednesday night showed a lot of love for bluegrass music all around -- awarding three prizes to Alison Krauss & Union Station. They won for best bluegrass album ("New Favorite") and best country song and Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "The Lucky One."
Dolly Parton won for best country female vocal performance for "Shine."
Comic actor Steve Martin won a Grammy as part of the music ensemble on "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," which was named best country instrumental performance. Martin played banjo with a lineup that also included Earl Scruggs, Glen Duncan, Randy Scruggs, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Gary Scruggs, Albert Lee, Paul Shaffer, Jerry Douglas and Leon Russell.
"Timeless -- Hank Williams Tribute" won for best country album.
The country winners:
Album of the Year: "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," soundtrack, various artists; T Bone Burnett, producer
Female Country Vocal Performance: "Shine," Dolly Parton
Male Country Vocal Performance: "O Death," Ralph Stanley
Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: "The Lucky One," Alison Krauss & Union Station
Country Collaboration with Vocals: "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow," Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen & Pat Enright (The Soggy Bottom Boys)
Country Instrumental Performance: "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," Earl Scruggs, Glen Duncan, Randy Scruggs, Steve Martin, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Gary Scruggs, Albert Lee, Paul Shaffer, Jerry Douglas & Leon Russell
Country Song: "The Lucky One," Robert Lee Castleman, songwriter (Alison Krauss & Union Station)
Country Album "Timeless -- Hank Williams Tribute," various artists; Luke Lewis, Mary Martin & Bonnie Garner, producers
Bluegrass Album: "New Favorite," Alison Krauss & Union Station
Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album: "Bill & Gloria Gaither Present a Billy Graham Music Homecoming," Bill & Gloria Gaither and the Homecoming Friends
Traditional Folk Album: "Down from the Mountain," various artists; T Bone Burnett, producer
Contemporary Folk Album: "Love and Theft," Bob Dylan
Compilation Soundtrack Album: "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," various artists; T Bone Burnett, producer
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: T Bone Burnett -- "Down from the Mountain," "Fan Dance," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
(Thanks to UPI Entertainment Reporter Pat Nason)
FAITH DOES THE OSCARS
Faith Hill will perform "There You'll Be" at the 74th Academy Awards March 24, country.com reports. Written by Diane Warren for the "Pearl Harbor" soundtrack, the tune has been nominated for best original song.
Hill's recording of the song reached No. 11 on the charts last summer.
"I'm honored to have been asked to perform Diane's song on the Oscars," Hill said in a statement, "and I'm looking forward to being there again."
The singer performed two years ago at the Oscars, filling in for Whitney Houston at the last moment.
COUNTRY STARS SING FOR ARTISTS' RIGHTS
The Dixie Chicks headlined one of the Recording Artist Coalition (RAC) benefit concerts held Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Also playing at the Universal Amphitheater -- Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, and Dwight Yoakam, among others, Billboard.com reports.
Yearwood played an hour-long, 11-song set, made "self-effacing comments" and joked about sound problems "to keep the crowd smiling," according to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper.
The Chicks' set, meanwhile, featured many of their hits as well as a pair of guest appearances. Bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs joined the trio onstage for his "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," and later on, Sheryl Crow showed up to duet with Natalie Maines on Bob Dylan's "Mississippi."
During the set, Maines alluded to the group's own record label troubles -- telling the crowd, "We did make a new record. Now we have to find a new label to put it out." The trio has been battling Sony over its contract and royalties.
GARTH BROOKS ON THE ROAD TO READING
One of the superstars of modern-day entertainment, Garth Brooks -- only recently emerged from a self-imposed exile from the stage -- will participate in a major program aimed at getting kids to read.
The National Education Association's "Read Across America" project confirms that Brooks will make a tour of national appearances starting this week to promote the cause. His first was a visit with the folks at "Good Morning America" Wednesday. During the broadcast, he talked about his plans to read to elementary school students in various cities across the country, while raising the awareness level of the problems of a society that "watches" rather than "reads."
Among the cities on his tour: Los Angeles, Nashville, Tucson, Tulsa and Clarksdale, Miss. At several stops along the way, he'll be joined by other country stars, including Steve Wariner, at the Nashville stopover.
(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)