Interview: Toby Keith Foundation’s 10th annual hometown fundraiser brings in $1 million for OK Kids Korral
A version of this story appears in Wednesday’s The Oklahoman. Read more of my interview with Toby Keith in the coming day.
Toby Keith Foundation’s 10th annual fundraiser brings in $1 million
The Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, along with its Denim & Diamond dinner and auction, benefits the country music star’s foundation and its primary project: the construction of the OK Kids Korral, a home-away-from-home for Oklahoma children fighting cancer and their families.
NORMAN — With the help of more than a thousand fellow celebrities and hundreds of supporters, Toby Keith’s 10th annual hometown fundraiser raised more than $1 million last weekend. Toby Keith’s 10th annual hometown fundraiser raised more than $1 million last weekend.
The Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, along with its Denim & Diamond dinner and auction, benefits the Toby Keith Foundation and its primary project: the construction of the OK Kids Korral, a home-away-from-home for Oklahoma children fighting cancer and their families.
The $8.5 million, 25,000-square-foot lodge on the south end of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is due to open in a matter of months.
“For the first time, we get to show people some results of what we’ve been working on for the last decade,” Keith said backstage at Friday’s Denim & Diamond event at Riverwind Casino. “The OK Kids Korral should be open in the fall, and people get to drive by and actually see where their money went.”
Having results to show seemed to resonate with supporters at the two-day event. With Keith and Tulsa comedian Rodney Carrington acting as auctioneers, Friday night’s live auction raised nearly $500,000 alone. The highest-priced item was a behind-the-scenes day with Keith’s crew on his upcoming “Hammer Down Tour.” CMT Music Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards packages and a custom Honda Rune motorcycle were other top-selling live auction items, according to a news release.
The Denim & Diamonds dinner also boasted nearly 100 silent auction items, including the opportunity to name a sandwich at the Oklahoma City Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, which sold for $10,000.
The 2012 fundraiser raised $664,000.
Juliet Nees-Bright, executive director of The Toby Keith Foundation, said the appearance of Edmond resident Beth McDowell and her daughter Mia, 3, at Friday’s event also moved donors. Mia, who is cancer-free after battling stage 4 neuroblastoma, enchanted attendees when she began twirling around the stage.
“When I told them about our day rooms for families who live relatively close to OKC, but who have multiple appointments in a day, she (Beth) told me how they … really needed a place like the Korral while they were in treatment,” Nees-Bright said. “So, I asked her to come speak to the people at our event.”
The Korral, 818 NE 8, also will have overnight suites for families who must travel hundreds of miles from rural Oklahoma towns for their children to receive treatment, plus a kitchen, dining hall, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, game rooms and a movie theater.
Together, the live and silent auction totals were by far the biggest in the fundraiser’s 10-year history. Organizers believe the event is one of the biggest auctions ever in the state, according to the release.
In addition, a record-breaking 240 people participated in Saturday’s golf tournament at Belmar Golf Club in Norman, forcing organizers to arrange two separate shotgun starts for the first time.
For more information on the OK Kids Korral, go to www.tobykeithfoundation.org.
Today’s featured event:
SHAWNEE — Laugh with Tulsa comedian Rodney Carrington at 5 p.m. today at Grand Casino Resort, Interstate 40 at Exit 178. Information: 964-7777 or www.grandcasinoshawnee.com.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
The third annual American Country Awards were handed out Monday night in Las Vegas.
Co-hosted by Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth, who hails from Broken Arrow, and multiplatinum country star Trace Adkins, the fan-voted ACAs were broadcast live on Fox from the Mandalay Bay Events Center. To see some of the co-hosts’ memorable moments from the show, click here.
With nine awards, including Artist of the Year, Luke Bryan received the most awards, followed by Lambert, who received three awards. Following her two wins this year, Underwood has earned a total of 11 ACA awards, the most ACA honors of any artist, according to a news release. To read more about the winners, click here.
The two-hour show included performances by Chenoweth, Bryan, Lady A, Rascal Flatts (which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney), Jake Owen, Kip Moore, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Keith Urban with youths from the Grammy Band Camp program and a surprise performance by Lynyrd Skynyrd with Adkins.
Check out these Associated Press photos of the ACA Awards performers and presenters:
7:00 p.m.: The show is kicking off with Luke Bryan, who has the most nominations tonight, performing his latest hit, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” He’s got his trademark ball cap on; look for him to turn it around backwards in just a couple of minutes. That Georgia boy has a killer grin, y’all.
7:03: I can’t wait to see what kind of nonsense co-hosts Kristin Chenoweth – a fellow Oklahoma girl – and Trace Adkins have worked up for our amusement tonight. It will be hard for them to top last year’s Baby Bjorn stunt.
7:05: They’re opening with a skit and a few jokes about Kristin’s teeny stature, with Trace trying to sit in miniature pink furniture and sip out of itsy bitsy Red Solo Cups. They show gets back to live when they emerge, this time with Kristin in a baby sling on Trace’s shoulder. It was funny the first time, it’s silly the second, let’s hope they leave it behind now. They’re giving the giant sling to Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, who is having a baby. “That’ll come in handy when he’s 12.” They’re making jokes about Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” and “motorboatin’” and cracking about Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and I wonder if Carrie Underwood is reciting the gags along with them because they sound just like the ones she did with Brad Paisley at last month’s CMA Awards.
7:10: We’re moving on, thankfully, and Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert comes out in a sleek, short black dress with silver swirls to present group of the year. Here are the nominees:
Artist of the Year: Group
The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Zac Brown Band
7:12: Winner: Lady A. They also win single of the year by a group for “We Owned the Night.” Charles Kelley asks Miranda, “Blake lets you go out like that?” while Dave encourages Hillary to thank the baby. After thanking the fans, Charles says the band has new music coming early next year. I’ll take it!
7:13: Kristin is sitting in the lap of one of the hot young things of Love and Theft – she made sure he wasn’t married first because she didn’t want to get her butt kicked – to introduce Dierks Bentley. He’s got his hat turned around backwards too while he’s belting his party/drinking anthem “Country and Cold Cans.” Kristin and Trace were right: There’s a lot of drinking songs out right about now. But it’s great fun, and Dierks is one my personal faves because he’s a sweetheart.
7:21: Kristin looks super-sexy in a super-low-cut silvery gown, and they’re arguing over who gets to be sexy Santa and who gets to be the elf in a seasonal skit planned for later in the show. Kristin is lobbying for casting against type in this deal. You can tweet your preference with #kristinsanta or #tracesanta. The height jokes are getting almost as bad as the rehashes from the CMAs, folks. Here comes Scotty McCreery and rodeo star Trevor Brazil to present the new artist trophy. I hope the Annies win but I’m expecting Hunter Hayes to get a new purple and white guitar:
Artist of the Year: New Artist
7:24: Winner: Lauren Alaina. Scotty smilingly hands the guitar that is this year’s trophy to his “American Idol” runner-up, who seems truly shocked. “I can’t breathe,” she says with a huge smile and obvious emotion in her voice. While her mama looks on, she’s thanking God and “Idol” and everyone else, before commenting “I think I’m holding it backwards,” and switching the guitar to her other side. She finally just covers her face and laughs and let’s the girl toting the guitars lead her away by the hand.
She wasn’t my choice for the award, but she’s so happy that I’m kind of glad she got it.
7:25: Love and Theft and Natasha Bedingfield are introducing the next performer: Rascal Flatts, who are a co-nominee with Bedingfield in the collaborative performance category. The Flatts are performing their latest love song, “Hot in Here.” Not my favorite of theirs, but I still love those harmonies.
7:29: Joe Don Rooney guitar solo! That is hot. The pride of Picher is a talented guy.
7:34: The guys from Florida Georgia Line are introducing “There’s Something ‘Bout a Truck” hit-maker Kip Moore to sing his new Southern rocker “Beer Money.” I’m starting to think that the ACAs are sponsored by Budweiser since these are all drinking songs. Or whatever company makes trucker caps, since all boys have one to turn around backwards.
7:37: Kip is setting aside his guitar so he can high-five the fans and sing “There’s Something ‘Bout a Truck.” It was like two songs in two minutes. I guess that’s what you get in a two-hour awards show.
7:38: Comedian Ron White takes the stage with his mom, Barbara, and his customary glass of scotch. They’re quipping that country music used to mean George Jones and Dolly Parton and now “it’s the cast of ‘Glee’ in cowboy hats,” which gets a giggle from Keith Urban. I guess if you make fun of yourself, it makes it easier when everyone else does it. But I do love Ron’s jokes about having the same number of Tour De France wins as Lance Armstrong. That one was funny.
They’re going to give the breakthrough artist award. Here are the options:
Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist
7:42: And Barbara wants to give it to the Rolling Stones. Why not? They’re as country as anyone there, I suppose. Whatever that means.
Anyway, the actual winner is Jake Owen, who thanks the fans and declares his love for his mom, his wife and his new baby girl, who is about two weeks old. Very sweet.
7:47: Kristin, looking lovely in a long sparkly black gown, introduces hot newcomers Jana Kramer, Lee Brice and Casey James, who are going to present the touring artist award:
Touring Artist of the Year
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw
Zac Brown Band
7:48: Winner: Jason Aldean. “I tell you what, I couldn’t win an award that means more to me than something for touring,” he says, noting that’s what he’s tried to build his career around. He thanks the fans for showing up as well as his band, crew and booking manager.
7:50: Kristin is back to remind people to tweet in for her to play Santa and Trace to play the elf later in the show before kicking it over to her “badass co-host,” who is performing with Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd. They’re playing some Skynyrd classics, starting with “What’s Your Name?”
7:53: People like Dierks and Lady A’s Charles Kelley are on their feet rocking out to Skynyrd. Maybe I’m just being overly nostalgic, but here’s the problem with inviting legacy acts on the show: They seem to upstage the youngsters so easily. I mean, Trace held his own, but I’d rather watch Skynyrd than a lot of the folks up for awards tonight. OK, I’ll stop now.
7:58: Yikes. Kristin emerges dressed in a pink frilly dress playing “Honey Boo Boo.” Yikes. Just yikes. That’s crazy-scary. The woman has a Tony for playing Sally Brown on Broadway and now she’s playing Honey Boo Boo on a fan-voted awards show. At least we know she doesn’t have a problem taking herself too seriously.
Thankfully, she and Trace are quickly kicking it to Gloriana, who in turn hand off to Jake Owen, who is performing his third straight chart-topper “The One That Got Away.” He doesn’t have a trucker cap on, though. His hair is awfully pretty.
8:03: Tulsa-based comic Rodney Carrington is carrying a bouquet of red roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and he’s accompanied by a pair of stars from the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants. Rodney has the gifts in hand for when the winner of “the best female ever” gets the prize and wants to kiss him. Here are the potential lucky ladies:
Artist of the Year: Female
8:05: That honor will go to Carrie Underwood, who also is winning for her collaboration with Brad Paisley. She now has 11 ACAs, the most of any artist. Looking quite lovely in a short coral-colored dress, she calls herself the luckiest and most blessed person in the world.
“We’ve had such an incredible year being on the road,” she says. “I work with so many amazing people. Thank you, God for blessing everyone in this building with just a great love of what we do.” She’s thanking the fans and all her peers in the audience.
And yes, she even gave Rodney a kiss on the cheek.
8:11: Goodness, Dustin Lynch is handsome. And he’s got a cowboy hat on! He’s just here to help introduce Jason Aldean’s performance, but it’s good to see him while he’s onstage. The Georgia superstar is rocking through his new surefire hit “The Only Way I Know.”
8:15: Trace is wandering around, singing “Viva Las Vegas” and pondering “what would Brad Paisley do” when a knocking noise starts coming from inside a guitar case. It’s Kristin telling him to open the case. “You idiot, you were supposed to do a magic trick with me, but you just left me in there. Brad Paisley would never do that to Carrie Underwood.” Trace replies, “He wouldn’t do this either,” picks her up and shakes her. They then declare it the worst magic trick ever. The magic isn’t here for those two tonight. I love Kristin and like Trace a lot but they need better writers BADLY.
Penn and Teller and Lauren Alaina are going to do a real magic trick to present the next award, single of the year by a female artist:
Single of the Year: Female
Sara Evans, “My Heart Can’t Tell You No”
*Miranda Lambert, “Over You”
Martina McBride, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”
Taylor Swift, “Ours”
*Carrie Underwood, “Good Girl”
8:20: Penn and Teller use the static electricity from Trace’s ponytail and a playing card to play a little tune across the top of Trace’s black cowboy hat. It’s neat little trick, but even better, the winner is Miranda!
“Well, that was cool,” she comments. Ran tells Lauren she made her cry with her speech earlier and reassures her she wasn’t holding the guitar upside down earlier. She thanks her hubby Blake Shelton for writing a great song with her. She comments that he isn’t there because he’s doing live shows for “The Voice” and she Tivo’d his show because she’s really nervous for him and his team. “I hope he Tivo’d me too because we won!”
Love, love, love her.
According to the announcer, Miranda also won video of the year by a female artist and most-played radio track.
8:25: Trace is reminding people to tweet for him to be Santa and not an elf. “Speaking of elves,” he says to introduce his co-host, Kristin, to perform her country song “What Would Dolly Do.” It’s a terrifically fun song, and I’ve heard the Oklahoma Music Hall of Famer perform it live. I love the “W-W-Double-D” chorus; it is too sassy, even if you can’t help but notice that the Broken Arrow native is using about 1/10th of her vocal power when she sings country music. She is a true powerhouse.
8:28: A very handsome Chris Young and very giggly LeAnn Rimes are going to present the top video by a group. Here are the options:
Music Video of the Year: Group or Collaboration
Gloriana, “(Kissed You) Good Night”
Lady Antebellum, “Dancin’ Away With My Heart”
Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
Love and Theft, “Angel Eyes”
The Band Perry, “All Your Life”
8:29: Winner: The oh-so likeable Little Big Town. They’re thanking “the greatest fans in the world.” Kimberly Schlapman says “I thought these things were cardboard, but they’re heavy like they’re real and everything.” I’ve interviewed three of the four members of LBT and liked them very much. They’ve paid a lot of dues, and you can tell they’re having such fun with the success they’re experiencing these days.
8:35: “It’s not a rumor, it’s a fact, Fleetwood Mac is reuniting and they’re going on tour,” Kristin says. She’s right, they’re coming to Tulsa in 2013. She’s introducing Fleetwood Mac guitarist/singer/songwriter Lindsey Buckingham, to the tune of “Tusk,” who is introducing Aussie country superstar Keith Urban, who is going to perform with kids from the Grammy camp program. And they’re not doing a Fleetwood Mac song, but Keith and these amazing young rockers are playing the Cream classic “Crossroads.” Wow. This is incredible. Every last one of these youngsters is astonishingly good, and Keith looks like he is having the time of his life playing with them. This is far and away the highlight of the night. Kudos to Keith for being willing to turn the spotlight over to such remarkable young women and men. That ROCKED!
8:44: Texas guys and Grammy nominees Eli Young Band are introducing Little Big Town’s performance. “How could you not love them?” the EYB boys wonder. How indeed. They’re awesome, and they’re singing their witchy new hit “Tornado.” Love it.
8:49: Jewel, who is getting ready to play June Carter Cash in a Lifetime TV movie, and her hubby, rodeo star Ty Murray, are going to present the artist of the year award to one of these folks:
Artist of the Year
Zac Brown Band
8:50: Winner: Luke Bryan, who basically also wins everything else that hadn’t been handed out yet. I’m not kidding: He wins a total of nine awards.
“I want to thank God for the ability to get out there on the road and do what I love and play for great country music fans,” he says, thanking his wife, band, crew, label, mama and daddy, tourmate Jason Aldean and “all the artists that are in this room that inspire me.”
“Country music, there’s nothing better. We get to do what we love and we get to do it for honest, hardworking people,” he adds. “They’re telling me to wrap, but I don’t wanna wrap.”
They’re going to commercial anyway, and presumably Kristin and Trace will be back to close the show. Please let the writing suddenly become drastically improved in the next 90 seconds while these ads play …
8:56: “Here comes Santa Claus,” and here comes the results of the Twitter vote: Kristin is dressed as sexy Santa and Trace is decked out as a giant elf, complete with fake ears. “You look like a holiday hooker,” he grouses at Kristin. “What are you supposed to be, a Viking elf?” she counters. “Can I sit on your lap? I’m so glad I wore underwear,” Kristin adds, reminding the audience there’s only 14 shopping days ’til Christmas. This is actually the funniest moment of the whole show. It may be a straight-up sight gag, but at least it isn’t a month past its expiration date.
They’re introducing Lady A to give their rendition of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” and it will definitely get you in the yuletide spirit. Charles Kelley is coming down to playfully dance with big winner Luke Bryan, and Kristin takes the stage to frolic along with them. She and a downtrodden, ridiculously costumed Trace wish everyone a good night.
And that’s a wrap on the third annual ACAs, which were at their best when they were actually not even the slightest bit country. I love seeing Kristin Chenoweth on national TV, but I hope she puts her dainty foot down and insists the writers come up with non-height-related jokes next year.
Parody singer-songwriter Cledus T. Judd released his 10th studio album, “Parodyziac!!,” today on Warner Bros. Records/LoudMouth Entertainment. Released digitally on Oct. 16, the album features Judd’s latest single, “Honeymoon,” a music video for which is soon to be released and is directed by Laura Bell Bundy.
The album’s first single, “The House That Broke Me,” spoofs Tishomingo resident and country music superstar Miranda Lambert’s smash ballad “The House That Built Me.” Check out the video posted above.
His new collection also includes a collaboration with Oklahoma comedian Rodney Carrington called “Feel Like a Pawn Star,” which is an obvious riff on the Tim McGraw-Kenny Chesney duet “Feel Like a Rock Star.”
In 1995, Judd released his debut album, “Cledus T. Judd: No Relation,” kicking off a career that spans nine studio albums and boasts more than 2 million records sold. His first video, “If Shania Was Mine” (his take on Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine”), won CMT’s 1996 Independent Video Of the Year award, launching his reputation as a must-see video star. 1996’s “I Stoled This Record” was certified gold; 1998’s “Did I Shave My Back For This?” hit the Top 20 on the country album charts, and he cracked the country singles chart for the first time in 2000 with “My Cellmate Thinks I’m Sexy.”
His albums and videos have featured guest performances by everyone from Buck Owens to Brad Paisley, and he’s thrilled crowds as an opener and emcee for acts like Brooks & Dunn, the Dixie Chicks, and Toby Keith. Judd was recently nominated for a 2012 Academy of Country Music Award as Major Market Personality for his work on the morning airwaves at WQYK in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida, alongside partners Dave McKay and Veronica.
Cledus T. Judd’s Parodyziac!! track listing below:
Feel Like A Pawn Star (feat. Rodney Carrington)
A Little More Hungry Than That
Living Single In A Double Wide
The House That Broke Me
If This Is Country Music
104 Amanda Street
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Toby Keith to perform on Fox’s New Year’s Eve special
The Oklahoma country music star is coming off a red-letter year highlighted by the viral success of his raucous party anthem “Red Solo Cup.”
Toby Keith will toast the arrival of 2012 with his “Red Solo Cup” as part of a nationally televised year-end bash.
The Oklahoma country music star will perform his popular party hit on the “American Country New Year’s Eve Live,” airing at 10 p.m. Central time Saturday on Fox.
Tulsa comedian Rodney Carrington, who just played his annual post-Christmas stint at Shawnee’s FireLake Grand Casino, will host the holiday special with Rick Harrison and Austin “Chumlee” Russell of the reality TV series “Pawn Stars.”
Country stars Joe Nichols, Rodney Atkins, Lauren Alaina and Eli Young Band also are set to musically ring in the New Year on the show, while comic Howie Mandel will make an appearance to share his New Year’s resolution and offer a sneak peak of his upcoming “Mobbed” series of specials.
For most of 2011, Keith experienced his usual excellent year: He was the highest-ranking country artist on Forbes’ roster of the World’s 25 Highest-Paid Musicians, his U.S. and European tours were blockbusters, and his annual album release, “Clancy’s Tavern,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country album chart. The album’s first single, the flag-waving anthem “Made in America,” became one of the fastest-rising songs of his career as it bulleted to the top of the charts.
Overseas, the Norman resident embarked on his ninth United Service Organization Tour, and on the home front, he raised more than $650,000 for his Toby Keith Foundation at his eighth annual charity golf tournament and auction. Earlier this month, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority approved the foundation’s plans to build the $8.5 million OK Kids Korral at NE 8 and Laird, where it will provide lodging for families with children undergoing cancer treatment at nearby facilities such as The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.
The Clinton native opened several more of his I Love This Bar & Grill establishments, including new locations in Denver, Boston and Cincinnati, and successfully launched his own premium spirit brand, Toby Keith’s Wild Shot Mezcal.
But Keith’s fans will probably best remember 2011 as the year he toasted a familiar plastic beverage receptacle. Two months ago, he released online the music video for his raucous party anthem “Red Solo Cup,” and suddenly, Keith’s year became even more red-letter as the uproarious mini-movie went viral in a big way. Since its October release, the unedited version of the video has earned more than 7.7 million YouTube hits, and its popularity prompted Keith and his team to make it a single.
The top-15 hit has been covered on the cult favorite TV show “Glee” and spawned a holiday variation on the video, plus Keith performed it earlier this month on Fox’s American Country Awards after receiving the artist of the decade title as the country star with the most airplay over the past 10 years.
Keith has jokingly deemed “Red Solo Cup” “the most profound, intelligent thing I’ve ever done.”
“There’s nothing else out there like it, and it’s just one of those crazy things that happens sometimes in music,” Keith told The Oklahoman in a fall phone interview. “It’s just one of the craziest things we’ve ever done. And I’m having so much fun with it.”
Multi-talented Tulsa comedian and actor Rodney Carrington will stay up late to host the biggest celebration of the year and ring in 2012 on “American Country New Year’s Eve Live,” airing at 10 p.m. Oklahoma time on Fox.
Carrington, and co-hosts Rick Harrison and Austin “Chumlee” Russell of the reality TV show “Pawn Stars,” will help count down to 2012 during the year-end party featuring some of country’s biggest and brightest musical stars.
Oklahoma country music star Toby Keith will perform his raucous party anthem and latest top-15 single “Red Solo Cup” during the show.
Joe Nichols, Lauren Alaina and Rodney Atkins will rock the Las Vegas strip on the show. The year-end festivities also will feature a performance by Eli Young Band. Howie Mandel will make a special appearance to share his New Year’s resolution and offer a sneak peak of his upcoming “Mobbed” series of specials, airing Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 on Fox.
Carrington is a comedian, actor, singer and writer who has recorded eight comedy albums that have sold more than three million copies. His album “Morning Wood” has been certified gold and his “Greatest Hits” recently was certified platinum. Carrington starred for two seasons on his own TV sitcom “Rodney,” and co-wrote and co-starred with Keith in the feature film “Beer for My Horses.”
According to Pollstar, Carrington was one of the Top Five highest-grossing touring comedians in the past five years, and he consistently has been in the top 10 over the past 10 years. He regularly performs to sold-out crowds across the U.S. and Canada. On Monday and Tuesday, he planned his annual post-Christmas stint at Shawnee’s FireLake Grand Casino.
Harrison, who is currently starring on “Pawn Stars,” is the owner-operator of Las Vegas’ World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, a family business. Trained in the pawn business from the age of 13, Harrison was born a hustler. He dropped out of high school to sell fake handbags, and later, with enough money to partner with his father, he opened the Gold & Silver, where his son also works. Harrison is the author of “License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver.”
Russell stars on “Pawn Stars,” working at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop for the Harrison family. Having been around the shop since he was a kid, Chumlee’s heart of gold makes him a pro at customer service, and he always wants to give his patrons the best deal.
7:00 p.m.: Co-host Trace Adkins, dressed in his usual all black, is performing one of his past smashes, “Honkatonk Badonkadonk” while a group of female dancers shake theirs around him. Carrie Underwood is singing along in the crowd. “Now for something completely different,” he says as the dancers shimmy offstage and he starts crooning “Just Fishin’.” Now the dancers are back, the electric guitars are rocking again, and Trace is doing “Ladies Love Country Boys.” The ladies end by surrounding him like a harem, while Trace intones “thank you ladies.” It’s an odd little medley, but if this show is anything like last year, that will be par for the course for the still-young ACAs.
7:05: Trace says he hosted the show last year and thought he did a pretty good job, but the “network people” didn’t feel like he followed the rules or the prompter too well. So they gave him a “co-host” to “keep him in line,” he says, noting that anyone trying to him in line is an opponent because those are fighting words. So 4’11″ Oklahoma native Kristin Chenoweth comes out with boxing gloves and a robe and starts dancing around him throwing punches. “Watch the below-the-belt stuff,” he says. “I have no choice but to go below the belt,” she says, showing off her slogan on her robe “Four Feet of Fury.” She is having him pull off her gloves so she can get her hands on “country’s sexiest man,” as determined by Country Weekly, and he tells her to stop it.
7:09: She’s challenging him to a singoff, winner gets to host, loser goes home to Louisiana. She’s bragging that she’s from Oklahoma and challenging him to sing “Oklahoma!” for the first round. “You’re pretty comfortable with those jazz hands you could be on Broadway.” He challenges her to sing “Honkytonk Badonkadonk,” so she throws off her robe to reveal a prodigiously padded rear and sings it in her best opera voice, with some guy dancers. “So it looks like I’m staying.” “This ain’t over yet, Chenoweth.” This is silly but it’s kind of fun too.
7:11: Josh Turner and Jordin Sparks are going to present the first award, which will honor some of country’s top ladies. But first the “American Idol” contender is asking Josh to sing one of his songs. That deep voice is pretty se
Single of the Year: Female
Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”
*Miranda Lambert, “Heart Like Mine”
*Reba, “Turn On The Radio”
Taylor Swift, “Mean”
*Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”
xy and all the girls including Jordin are singing along. Of course, we’re not getting all these awards distributed very quickly.
Anyway, they’re gonna present single of the year: female to one of these fine ladies:
7:14: Winner: Carrie Underwood for “Mama’s Song.” “First off, I don’t even know what to do about that intro, that was awesome,” the Checotah says as she holds the commemorative guitar, which is given in lieu of a trophy at the ACAs. She’s effusively thanking the country fans for their support. I believe Carrie won 6 or so awards at the first ACAs, so we could see a lot more of her tonight. Of course, since she got her break on Fox’s “American Idol,” she maybe has a bit of a homefield advantage.
7:19: The Band Perry, who were just nominated for the Grammy for best new artist, are performing their latest hit “All Your Life” while the fans in the crowd wave glow sticks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to win that Grammy, they are so hot right now. Kimberly is even rocking a dress with a tulle skirt that looks like it escaped relatively unscathed from 1989.
7:23: Kristin Chenoweth announces that they will be awarding an Artist of the Decade, based on MediaBase’s assessment of the most-played artist of the past 10 years. They’ll be counting down throughout the show the top 10 most-played artists, with the No. 1 getting the prize and performing live. No. 10 is Keith Urban, and No. 9 is Brad Paisley.
Didn’t they give an artist of the decade award on this show last year?
7:25: Comedian Bill Engvall and “Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina are up to tell us a bit about the Telecaster guitars they’re giving away. Bill and Lauren fumble the hand-off and drop the nice guitar to the floor, but they’re still gonna name the single of the year winner. I think Thompson Square (including Miami, OK, native Keifer Thompson) has a great shot here:
Billy Currington, “Let Me Down Easy”
Tim McGraw, “Felt Good On My Lips”
*Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”
Chris Young, “Voices”
Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”
7:27: Winner: Chris Young for “Voices,” and he’s treating us to a performance of his winning song, which I absolutely adore. Plus, Keifer and wife Shawna of Thompson Square have 6 more chances tonight to win a guitar.
7:29: As Chris finishes up his performance and begins thanking the usual suspects, the announcer says he’s also been named breakthrough artist of the year. Good for him.
7:35: Two unbelievable things just happened at the ACAs: Garth Brooks, who has released maybe one single this millennium, is No. 8 on that artist of the decade countdown. And Trace just came out carrying Kristin on his chest in a big baby carrying, quipping, “I knew I’d end up carrying you on this show.”
They’re quickly tossing it to rodeo legend Larry Mahan, GAC personality Storme Warren and up-and-coming singer Hunter Hayes. They’re gonna present music video of the year
Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”
Jerrod Niemann, “What Do You Want”
*Blake Shelton, “Who Are you When I’m Not Looking”
*Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”
Josh Turner, “I Wouldn’t Be A Man”
7:39: Winner: Blake Shelton, who also wins music video by a male artist. Blake is saying hi to his dad back home because he’s had a rough couple of weeks, so he’s dedicating the award to his dad and telling him he loves him. Aw.
7:40: Eli Young Band is on to perform “Crazy Girl,” which has helped elevate them to a whole new level of success. It’s nice to see some Texas country represented here.
7:46: Rascal Flatts is listed as No. 7 on the artist of the decade list. And now Trace is getting some script changes from Kristin, and the wrestler Big Show shows up to make sure her co-host does just what she wants. He’s introducing the men of “Pawn Stars” per her instructions, and they show up holding that broken guitar claiming Bill Engvall tried to sell it to them for $500. They’re reading the canned lead-up to the album of the year noms with varying degrees of painfulness. Here are the noms:
Jason Aldean, “My Kinda Party”
Kenny Chesney, “Hemingway’s Whiskey”
Brad Paisley, “This Is Country Music”
Taylor Swift, “Speak Now”
Keith Urban, “Get Closer”
Zac Brown Band, “You Get What You Give”
7:49: Winner: Jason Aldean, who gets an undamaged guitar. He notes “it’s been a hell of year,” and he’s certainly been on a hot streak. But I think Paisley should have won in this category. Jason notes that he’s proudest this year that more than 1 million fans came out to his shows. He’s coming to OKC in the new year if you want to see him live.
7:50: Trace appears in a neck brace, and Kristin, in an extremely low-cut green dress, is apologizing for having the biggest athlete in the world brutally body slam him. “You’re right, this is our show, we can do whatever the hell we want,”as she yanks off the neck brace. “I like your style, Chenoweth, I’m gonna let you be my co-host.” Now that that is settled, they’re introducing the amazing duo of Pistol Annies: Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert, Angeleena Presley and Ashley Monroe are in matching black outfits as they croon their smoking first single “Hell on Heels.” Love them so much.
7:58: Brooks & Dunn is No. 7 on the artist of the decade countdown, and Tulsa comic Rodney Carrington, who has been playing Vegas and will be playing his annual post-Christmas shows at Firelake Grand in Shawnee soon, is with The JaneDear Girls. They’re going to present the new artist of the year prize. Here are the options:
The Band Perry
8:00: Winner: “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, whose debut album has already gone gold, is the performing his new single “The Trouble with Girls” to mark his second big win on Fox. Carrie is nodding along as he croons. It’s amazing that a guy that young sounds so grown up; no matter how many times I hear him sing, I’m still kind of startled by it. “Thank y’all so much. It’s my first award, and it’s a dad-gum Telecaster.” He’s thanking the usual suspects, putting his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ first, and giving a birthday shout-out to his mom. If he were any sweeter, the kid would be Tim Tebow.
8:08: The duo Love and Theft are revealing No. 5 on the artist of the decade countdown, Alan Jackson, and Kristin Chenoweth is chatting with her fellow Oklahoma girl Carrie Underwood, noting that she’s perfect “just like my girls from Oklahoma.” “Sometimes awards show put people together that go together; this is not o
The Band Perry, “You Lie”
*Rascal Flatts, “Why Wait”
Sugarland, “Stuck Like Glue”
*Thompson Square, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”
Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”
ne of those times.” The Big Show is back, with NASCAR pit reporter Jamie Little, and their chatting about their jobs while the wrestler points out her “Olympic conditioning” in her sleek purple gown.
They’re going to present single of the year by a group. Here are the noms:
8:12: Winner: Thompson Square, who are performing their winning, breakthrough, Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling ballad. It’s been a ginormous year for this husband-and-wife team. The couple also won best single by a new artist and best video by a new artist. “Thank y’all very much. This is the first we’ve ever won anything, so be patient with us,” Keifer said. He’s thanking God for making it such a blessed year for them.
8:20: Artist of the decade countdown continues with George Strait at No. 4, and with Kristin Chenoweth pretending to be the dummy to Trace’s fake ventriloquist. “How do you like the show so far?” Trace asks. “I’d like it better if I was sitting on Blake Shelton’s lap,” she said in a voice that’s more like a robot. But she can’t because Blake – who got huge cheers earlier when he won his music video honors – is going to croon his latest hit, “God Gave Me You.” Love this Okie, and I’m glad to see he’s finally achieving the level of success he deserves. And Miranda is singing along to the song, which he recorded for her and earned a Grammy nomination for the songwriter, Dave Barnes, to boot. It’s a gorgeous performance, and I love it when we get to see romantic Blake and not just crazy-funny Blake.
8:29: Artist of the decade countdown continues with Kenny Chesney at No. 3. Since I bet my boots that Toby Keith is No. 1, this list is awfully male-dominated. NASCAR star Kyle Busch, who’s giving a shoutout to his smoking hot wife, is going to present the female artist of the year:
8:31: Winner: Carrie Underwood, who also wins music video of the year by a female for “Mama’s Song.” She is thanking her fans, specifically her fan club, and promising an amazing 2012. She also says she loves and misses her hubby Mike, then apologizing because his teammates are gonna make fun of him for that later.
8:32: Trace says he’s been pretending that he doesn’t want to listen to his co-host but that’s just an act, and he’s introducing her singing her sassy country single “I Didn’t.” She’s letting her Okie accent and full-blown feisty out as she dedicates the song to her ex-boyfriend. No question her voice is amazing, but I think the Broken Arrow native is trying a little too hard with her performance, particularly with the “yee haw.” Of course, the last time I saw her perform “I Didn’t Live,” it was in front of 2,000 people – about a fourth of them relatives or friends and all of them fellow Okies and fans – at her Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame induction in Muskogee. So that could just be my perception based on a show in which she was definitely at home and ease.
8:39: The artist of the decade countdown is almost over with Tim McGraw getting the No. 2 spot. They’re going to give the Hits Award, which last year went to Alan Jackson, and since ACA male artist Brad Paisley is doing the intro via video, it’s safe to say the winner is going to be Alabama. The legendary band is getting a standing O as they take the stage to play a medley of their hits including “Tennessee River,” “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” and “Mountain Music” that has everyone in the crowd singing along. It is so amazing to see this band playing their hits, and the crowd is just adoring every minute. Like most of the people there, I grew up with this band’s music. What great players, every one!
8:45: Trace is presenting the Greatest Hits Award to Alabama, saying the first concert he ever attended featured the band, who was “the greatest then and they’re still the greatest now.” He literally takes his hat off to the band, who then figuratively tips their hats to the fans and to the military members who keep Americans free to play and listen to the music of their choice. I notice that one of the band members is wearing a big slogan “We’re Back” on the back of his shirt. Awesome.
8:49: I’m betting that Okie Toby Keith is No. 1 on the artist of the decade countdown, though I may well be wrong. If that’s the case, the list will not have included a single female. If that’s the case, it’s just shameful.
8:51: Miranda Lambert, who is the first country artist to have her first four albums go No. 1, is looking quite sexy in a black dress covered in rectangular golden beads, and she’s going to present the artist of the year award. I’m disappointed that her honey isn’t in the running here, but here are the candidates:
Zac Brown Band
8:53: Winner: Jason Aldean, who comments, “This is getting ridiculous.” Yep, it sure is because that’s not all he’s won. He also gets:
Album and single of the year by a male artist for “My Kinda Party.”
Single and music video of the year by group/duo/collaboration for “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson.
That brings his total ACA wins to 6. Wow. What a year.
8:56: Trace and Kristin (who looks stunning her long golden and black dress) are presenting the artist of the decade honor to … Toby Keith, who comes out to his tune “I Wanna Talk About Me.” “Hell, anybody can have a good decade, right?” TK quips before going on to thank the fans. Before he performs his new smash “Red Solo Cup” for the first time, Stephen Colbert pays tribute to TK as the “pop of Nashville” in a taped message. Love that TK won, and my disappointment that there were ZERO women on the countdown is being drowned in the catchiness of “Red Solo Cup.” Everyone out in the crowd – from the fans to the stars – are holding the plasticware in question, and Toby Keith is so into this song, he just goofed on the lyrics. He is totally selling this ridiculous song! “You’re my friend!”
9:00: all the presenters along with Trace and Kristin join TK on stage to toast and drink from their red Solo cups, with Trace contributing to the lyrics and Kristin pretending to coach one of the guitar players.
It’s a fun way to end the show, and a handy way for Fox to promote that “Red Solo Cup” will be performed on Tuesday’s new episode of its cult favorite show “Glee.”
Thanks for following my live blog tonight. As usual, I’ll have more coverage to come soon. And if you’re drinking from a red Solo cup, please be safe and smart about it!
From Monday’s Life section of The Oklahoman. To read my new feature with Kristin Chenoweth, click here.
Thompson Square competing for 7 American Country Awards
Other artists with Oklahoma ties nominated for the second annual ACAs include Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith.
Hot new duo Thompson Square are set to light up the second annual American Country Awards.
The husband-and-wife pair, which includes Miami, OK, native Keifer Thompson, will view for seven commemorative guitars, which are given in lieu of trophies at the ACAs. Other artists with Oklahoma ties nominated include Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith.
The fan-voted awards show will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday on Fox. Broken Arrow native Kristin Chenoweth will co-host the show with country star Trace Adkins, who hosted the inaugural show solo. The ACAs are billed as the only country music awards show that “gives fans the opportunity to vote for their favorite artists not only in traditional categories but also in previously unrecognized areas of the business such as touring, encompassing the entire spectrum of country music.”
Thompson Square is nominated for Artist of the Year: New Artist and will compete for overall Single of the Year, Single of the Year: Duo or Group, Single of the Year: New Artist, overall Music Video of the Year, Music Video: Duo, Group or Collaboration and Music Video: New Artist on the strength of their smash “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.”
Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert’s new all-girl trio Pistol Annies also will contend for the Artist of the Year: New Artist award. As a solo artist, Lambert is nominated for Artist of the Year: Female and Single of the Year: Female for “Heart Like Mine,”
Lambert’s husband and fellow Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton is nominated for Artist of the Year: Male along with overall Music Video of the Year and Music Video: Male for “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking.”
Checotah native Carrie Underwood is nominated for Artist of the Year: Female; Touring Headline Act of the Year; and Single of the Year: Female and Music Video: Female for “Mama’s Song.”
Reba McEntire, who hails from Chockie, also is nominated for Single of the Year: Female and Music Video: Female for “Turn on the Radio.”
Rascal Flatts, which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney, will vie for Artist of the Year: Duo or Group; Single of the Year: Duo or Group for “Why Wait”; and Touring Headline Act of the Year.
Norman resident Toby Keith also is nominated for Touring Headline Act of the Year.
Performers for the second ACAs will include Keith, Shelton, Pistol Annies, Thompson Square, Chenoweth, Adkins, Alabama, Scotty McCreery, Eli Young Band and The Band Perry.4
The show also will include appearances by Lambert, Tulsa comedian Rodney Carrington, Lauren Alaina, Josh Turner, Jordin Sparks, The Big Show, The JaneDear Girls, Bill Engvall, Larry Mahan and the men of the reality TV show “Pawn Stars.”
Jason Aldean and Zac Brown Band each earned a leading eight nominations for this year’s ACAs.
Carrie Underwood was named the first-ever American Country Awards artist of the year tonight, as Fox debuted its fan-voted country music awards show live from Las Vegas.
The Checotah native earned five other prizes at the inaugural ACAs, including female artist of the year, touring artist of the year, album of the year for “Play On” and single and music of the year by a female artist for “Cowboy Casanova.” She was lucky in Vegas, winning all six awards for which she was nominated.
“I’d like to thank God for giving all the artists, all the people in this room, and all the fans watching back home and myself the biggest love for the best music in the world, country music,” Underwood said, cradling the Fender Stratocaster guitars the ACAs handed out in lieu of trophies.
“We have had the most amazing year out on the road, and of course, we wouldn’t be doing anything if there weren’t people sitting out there in the audience. So to everybody that came out to see us (or) anybody else out here, you guys are awesome supporting us like you do. God bless the fans.”
It was the second time this year Underwood has taken home the top prize at a country music awards show. She was named entertainer of the year at April’s Academy of Country Music Awards, also staged inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas.
Both are fan-voted prizes, proving the 2005 “American Idol” winner still knows how to marshal her fervent fan base when it comes time to cast ballots.
The ACAs became the fourth country music awards show of the year, after the ACMs, June’s Country Music Television Awards and last month’s Country Music Association Awards.
The new show experienced obvious growing pains, with some of its numerous performances cut short as it came close to running over its two-hour time slot. Although she won six awards, Underwood took the stage only once; Brad Paisley’s male artist of the year win wasn’t even announced on air.
Ada native Blake Shelton, who gave the opening performance, and show host Trace Adkins earned the music video and music video by a male artist prizes for the mini-movie to their raucous chart-topping duet “Hillbilly Bone.” But the ornery host informed Shelton that the show was over on time and proceeded to thank the Tishomingo resident’s fans, fiancee Miranda Lambert and himself on Shelton’s behalf.
When Adkins gave Shelton the chance to say one thank you, the befuddled Oklahoman jokingly expressed his gratitude for air.
Norman resident Toby Keith was honored as a Video Visionary and played his cinematic new single “Bullets in the Gun.” Rascal Flatts, which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney, earned the Decade Award, and the band performed a medley of its hits.
Venerable star Alan Jackson also played a medley of a few of his 34 chart-toppers before accepting the Greatest Hits honor.
Newcomer Easton Corbin and hot trio Lady Antebellum went into the show tied with a leading seven nominations each. Lady A won group of the year along with single of the year, single by a group and music video by a group for the smash “Need You Now.”
Corbin earned three Fenders for breakthrough artist, along with single and music video by a breakthrough artist for his hit “A Little More Country Than That.”
Josh Turner garnered the single of the year by a male artist for the country radio favorite “Why Don’t We Just Dance.”
Other stars with Oklahoma ties to earn ACA nominations included Lambert, Brooks & Dunn, and Reba McEntire, who performed her latest hit “Turn on the Radio.” Tulsa comic Rodney Carrington was one of the show’s presenters.
For more on the American Country Awards, go to my live blog of the event by clicking here.