Originally created 11/15/02

Ramblin' Rhodes: Country music couple riding high everywhere, except in Nashville



Faith Hill and her husband, Tim McGraw, may have been shut out in the Country Music Association's recent awards, but their careers are in high gear.

Both have hot new albums: Ms. Hill's Cry debuted at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's top 200 album chart and country album chart; and Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors comes out Nov. 26. They also have specials set to air on consecutive nights on NBC for November sweeps.

Mr. McGraw's first television special, Sing Me Home, airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, on WAGT-TV (Channel 26). The program includes a concert at C.W. Earle's Cotton Gin in Mr. McGraw's hometown, Start, La.

He also is lined up as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Monday, Nov. 25; the Today Show on Wednesday, Nov. 27; and makes his debut guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday, Nov. 30. Many Augusta viewers will be unable to see that historic country music moment since our Comcast cable carrier does not carry the CMT network, which broadcasts Opry shows.

Ms. Hill's self-titled TV special airs at 9 on Thanksgiving night. It will include live performances of many of her hits and a look at "the creative process" behind her new album.

Considering their success in the past year, one has to wonder why Mr. McGraw was not even nominated in the Country Music Association's Best Male Vocalist category; why Ms. Hill was not nominated in the Best Female Vocalist category; and why neither was nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category. Mr. McGraw won the CMA's Best Male Vocalist award in 1999 and 2000 and the Entertainer award last year, and Ms. Hill won the Female Vocalist award in 2000.

How can you go from Entertainer of the Year to not even being nominated in the Male Vocalist category a year later? He was nominated in the Vocal Event category for singing backup on Jo Dee Messina's Bring on the Rain, which lost out to Willie Nelson's Mendocino County Line duet with Lee Ann Womack. Come on, does anybody with the slightest musical taste think Mendocino County Line is superior to Ms. Messina's haunting ballad?

It really comes down to the too-familiar refrain Nashville has adopted: build them up, make them stars and then push them aside so some new and younger talent can make the record companies, personal managers and booking agents a lot more dollars.

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 32 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at ramblin@morris.com.