COUNTRY BEAT: Toby Keith, Mindy McCready, Waylon Jennings ...

Keith serenades Orange Bowl; McCready loses clothes; Jennings sells 'General Lee.'

Oklahoma native Toby Keith will be symbolically going home Wednesday (January 3) when he sings the National Anthem at the FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami, where Oklahoma University will face Florida State. Keith grew up and still lives near Owen Field in Norman, where the Oklahoma Sooners play, and as a teenager he sold sodas at Sooners games. The game will be broadcast live on ABC. ...

Mindy McCready fans will find a surprise in their McCready 2001 wall calendars. The singer poses nude for the month of August and there's not a whole lot of cloth covering the rest of the year. ...

Waylon Jennings' Nashville estate sale last weekend drew large crowds, who bought such items as the orange 1969 Dodge Charger featured in the "Dukes of Hazzard" television show. Known as the "General Lee," it sold for $45,000. Not selling was the Ariel motorcycle that once belonged to Jennings' friend Buddy Holly. Asking price for the cycle is $750,000. Jennings, who now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, still has his Nashville house on the market for $1.2 million. ...

The Country Music Hall of Fame permanently closed the doors of its Music Row building on New Year's Eve. Workers are beginning to move the hall's millions of pieces of country memorabilia to the institution's new downtown Nashville home, which will open in May. ...

The Soul 2 Soul 2000 Tour by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw ranked fifth on the list of the year's top tours, according to industry magazine Pollstar. Grossing $48.8 million, the tour was just ahead of the sixth-ranked Dixie Chicks' Fly tour, which grossed $47.3 million. Leading the list for the year was Tina Turner, followed by 'NSync, the Dave Matthews Band and Kiss. In Billboard's year-end artist rankings, McGraw was the top singles and tracks (denoting radio play) artist (Hill is second), while Hill's "Breathe" (RealAudio excerpt) led in country singles sales (it was also pop single of the year), and Fly was the best-selling country album of the year. ...

Country comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy are taking the Blue Collar Comedy Tour back on the road throughout much of 2001. They'll start another leg of their tour January 12 at the Hersheypark Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Theater dates are scheduled nationwide through May 4. ...

The Dixie Chicks' record company is being sued over the group's use of a gospel song in a hit tune, the Tennessean reports. The suit, filed against Sony Music Entertainment Inc. in a federal court in Missouri, claims the group did not seek or obtain authorization to use gospel composer Albert E. Brumley's "I'll Fly Away" at the end of "Sin Wagon" (RealAudio excerpt), a single from the Chicks' 1999 Fly. Albert E. Brumley & Sons, the Powell, Missouri, publisher that holds the song's copyright, is asking $500,000 in damages. A Sony Music spokeswoman said the company had not seen the lawsuit. Brumley, who died in 1977, composed "I'll Fly Away" in 1932. The song has been recorded more than 500 times, the suit says. Sean "Puffy" Combs and singer Faith Evans settled a lawsuit in Nashville in September in federal court over the use of "I'll Fly Away" in the song "I'll Be Missing You" (RealAudio excerpt). ...

Sara Evans has added more dates to her opening gig with Alan Jackson. She'll open for him on January 31 in Albany, New York; February 1 in Salisbury, Maryland; February 2 in Pittsburgh; February 3 in Auburn Hills, Michigan; and February 7 in Augusta, Maine. ...

Cyrus Charities Foundation has given $12,764 in grants to charities, Billy Ray Cyrus' father, Ron Cyrus announced. The money, raised through concerts and donations, went to a summer day camp for children who have diabetes and asthma and to needy students for school clothes. Cyrus is also holding a benefit concert for a slain police officer's family on Saturday (December 23). ...

As a result of Kenny Rogers' face appearing on 1 million boxes of its Honey Nut Cheerios, General Mills is donating $50,000 in proceeds from sales of those boxes to America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization. …

Shania Twain's Come on Over (RealAudio excerpt of title track) has been certified 18-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, making it the most successful solo album by a female artist, surpassing Whitney Houston's soundtrack to "The Bodyguard." The Dixie Chicks' Fly is now eight-times platinum; their first album is 10-times platinum. ...

Country music touring revenues in 2000 were up more than 50 percent over last year, and total attendance was up just over 30 percent, according to Billboard sister publication Amusement Business. The magazine said the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill co-headlining "Soul 2 Soul" tour was the top country package, grossing $49.6 million and drawing 969,600 people to 65 shows. The Dixie Chicks led in total attendance, drawing 1 million fans and grossing $46.1 million in 81 shows. The George Strait Country Music Festival grossed $21 million from 10 stadium dates. ...

Dolly Parton's second bluegrass album, Little Sparrow, is scheduled for a January 23 release. Guest artists include Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss, Chris Thile, Sonya Isaacs and the Irish group Altan. Parton includes a version of the Cole Porter song "I Get a Kick Out of You." ...

An Alison Brown song will be the wake-up music for the crew of the space shuttle Destiny during its mission to the International Space Station. "Girl's Breakdown," a tune from Brown's Fair Weather that she wrote for friend and astronaut Marsha Ivins, will accompany the crew on its January 18 launch. ...

Trisha Yearwood's log cabin, on 17 acres in Hendersonville, Tennessee, is on the market for $575,000. ...

Brad Paisley will be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in February. The singer was asked to join onstage during a show Saturday (December 16) by Little Jimmy Dickens and Jeannie Seely, who were dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Paisley will be inducted in an Opry performance at the Ryman Auditorium on February 17. The Opry returns to the Ryman, its former home, for shows in January and February. ...

Jo Dee Messina's first headlining tour will start February 8 in South Bend, Indiana. She's calling it the "Burn Tour 2001," after Burn (RealAudio excerpt of title track), the title of her third album. Rascal Flatts will open dates during the 75-city tour. ...

When the new Country Music Hall of Fame opens in May, 10 new members will be inducted in opening ceremonies, said the Country Music Association. Traditionally, between two and four new members are inducted annually into the hall. There are now 74 members. ...

BR5-49 are in a Nashville studio with Dixie Chicks producer Paul Worley working on their fifth album. BR5-49, dropped by Arista Nashville earlier this year, were signed recently by Sony Music Nashville's Lucky Dog Records, which specializes in alt-country music. ...

Craig Morgan's new holiday single, "The Kid in Me," is being offered as a promotional download to help raise donations for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The download can be obtained by visiting the St. Jude official Web site at www.countrycares.org. The single is not for sale and is not on Morgan's current, debut album. ...

Nashville's Gospel Music Association has signed with Dick Clark Productions to produce the annual Dove Awards show, the Tennessean reports. The production, held in the Grand Ole Opry House in April, has never been on network TV, something Clark said he was aiming for. ...

Brad Paisley, Chely Wright, Billy Dean, Toby Keith and Mindy McCready are among the more than 20 country artists who will take part in the 7th Annual Country in the Rockies, from January 27 to February 3 in Crested Butte, Colorado. Proceeds from the series of concerts and outdoor events help fund research efforts of the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories for Cancer Research, a division of the T.J. Martell Foundation at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville. ...

Brooks & Dunn and Kenny Chesney have been added as presenters on the American Music Awards special airing January 8 on ABC. Martina McBride and SheDaisy will perform on the show. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report