COUNTRY BEAT: Collin Raye, Jamie O’Neal, Trent Summar …

Raye wins humanitarian award, Russell Crowe surprises O'Neal; Summar gets new gig.

Collin Raye has been named the 2001 recipient of the Artist Humanitarian Award from Country Radio Broadcasters Inc. Raye is an ambassador to Childhelp USA, has worked with USA Weekend’s Make a Difference Day as a celebrity judge for the past two years, works with Native American organization Hecel Oyakapi and has been recognized by the Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence for his work in combating violence against women and children. Last year, he helped deliver supplies to Kosovo and visited U.S. troops there. He also has contributed to efforts by Silent Witness National Initiative, Al-Anon, Alateen, Special Olympics, First Steps, United Cerebral Palsy, Emily Harrison Foundation and Dreammakers. …

Jamie O’Neal got a surprise at her concert Saturday night (March 3) with Darryl Worley and Rascal Flatts at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon. Friend and fellow Australian Russell Crowe jumped onstage unannounced and sang “Folsom Prison Blues” with O’Neal. Crowe was in Nashville to pick up a new motorcycle and heard that she was performing. …

Trent Summar and the New Row Mob will play 15 dates on this year’s Volunteer Jam tour in May and June. The group will join .38 Special, the Dickey Betts Band and the Charlie Daniels Band on the tour, in support of its self-titled debut album. “Paint Your Name in Purple” (RealAudio excerpt), the third single from the album, is set to be released to radio. …

After sifting through some 14,000 songs, Garth Brooks says he’s approved just two for his upcoming album. In taking audience questions (and song requests) in a rare, hour-long acoustic performance Friday (March 2) at Nashville’s Country Radio Seminar (CRS), the singer — commemorating his commercial launch at the luncheon 11 years ago — said one of the tunes will be a duet with Trisha Yearwood. Brooks said he has rebounded from the commercial and critical drubbing he got for Chris Gaines, his rock-alter-ego project. “I got the living sh– kicked out of me for doing that,” he said. “But I had fun. And, if Paramount calls me [to work on the soundtrack to 'The Lamb,' a movie about Chris Gaines], I’ll work with Babyface and Don Was on it.” In his acoustic set, Brooks, who announced his retirement from performing last October, also performed some of his own favorites, as well as songs by Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Bob Seger. About his upcoming album, Brooks said he was aiming to make it the modern equivalent of what Seger’s music was to the 1970s: “I’ll sing cool, blue-collar stuff,” he said. …

A new Lucinda Williams single titled “Essence” is due March 27, the Austin Chronicle reports. It will be the first single from her upcoming Broken Butterflies album, scheduled for a May 22 release. She will perform at the Austin Music Awards on March 13. …

Dolly Parton and Rory Block have been added to the talent roster for the 14th annual MerleFest, scheduled for April 26–29 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Parton, whose latest album is Little Sparrow (RealAudio excerpt of title track), will perform on April 28th. Other artists scheduled for MerleFest include Earl Scruggs With Family & Friends, the David Grisman Quintet, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Balfa Toujours, Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, Jerry Douglas, Donna the Buffalo, Herb Pedersen, John McEuen, Jimmy Ibbotson Chris Hillman, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Tony & Larry Rice, Beth Nielsen Chapman, the Lonesome River Band, Tim O’Brien & the Crossing, the Del McCoury Band, and the Dan Tyminski Band. …

Toby Keith‘s How Do You Like Me Now?! has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Keith received six Academy of Country Music Awards nominations this week. Gaining RIAA gold certification is the soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou?. …

Duane Jarvis has set a June 26 release date for his new album, Certified Miracle, in the United States and Canada. Guests on the new album include Buddy Miller and Joy Lynn White on harmony vocals and Richard Bennett on guitar. Jarvis co-wrote “Still I Long for Your Kiss” with Lucinda Williams and formerly played guitar in her band. …

Steve Earle will headline a contingent of artists taking part in the 500th broadcast of the two-hour, weekly syndicated radio series “Mountain Stage.” Others appearing on the May 4 broadcast will be Jesse Winchester, Bruce Cockburn, Amy Ray with the Butchettes and mandolinist Johnny Staats. …

Trisha Yearwood has released a new single, “I Would Have Loved You Anyway,” from her as-yet-unnamed upcoming album, due for a summer release. …

Merle Kilgore, who co-wrote “Ring of Fire” (RealAudio excerpt of Johnny Cash‘s version) with June Carter before she became June Carter Cash, will host the 2001 Legendary Acoustic Concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on April 3. Other songwriters performing in the concert will be Gordon Lightfoot, Ray Parker Jr., Andrew Gold and Sharon Vaughn. The event is sponsored by The Nashville Songwriters Association International and is part of Tin Pan South 2001, a week of events, concerts and songwriting workshops, running April 2 though 7. …

Tim McGraw‘s forthcoming album, Set This Circus Down, includes 14 tracks and is due for release April 24. The track listing is: “Cowboy in Me,” “Telluride,” “I Guess You Get Used to Somebody,” “Unbroken,” “Things Change,” “Angel Boy,” “Forget About Us,” “Take Me Away,” “Smiling,” “Set This Circus Down,” “Angry All the Time,” “Let Me Love You,” “Grown Men Don’t Cry” and “Why We Said Goodbye.” …

Charlie Robison‘s first single from his upcoming album, Step Right Up, will be a remake of the old NRBQ song “I Want You Bad.” The single will be released March 12; the album is due April 10. …

Chely Wright has been appointed to the Music Educators National Conference advisory council. She founded the Reading, Writing & Rhythm Foundation to further music education. …

Billy Gilman and Jessica Andrews, two of country music’s youngest artists, will tour together this summer, the Associated Press reports. The 17-year-old Andrews’ single ”Who I Am” is at #6 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, and her debut album of the same name was released Tuesday (February 27). Gilman, at 12 the youngest-ever Grammy nominee, has had chart hits with “One Voice” and “Oklahoma.” …

David Frizzell is set to release a new album, David Frizzell 2001, on April 17. Frizzell — who has had two #1 Billboard singles with “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home” (RealAudio excerpt) and “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma,” and duet partner Shelly West — will release “You’ve Just Been Robbed by Jesse James” as a single April 9. …

Bill Anderson will host his fifth annual City Lights Festival in Commerce, Georgia, on June 28 and 29. Charley Pride, Little Jimmy Dickens, comedian T. Bubba Bechtol, Billy Walker and Jeannie Seely will also appear. …

This year’s Orville H. Gibson Guitar Award winners include: Emmylou Harris, Best Female Acoustic Guitarist; Alabama‘s Jeff Cook, Best Male Country Guitarist; and Shelby Lynne, Best Female Country Guitarist. …

Asleep at the Wheel are compiling a best-of album for a late-April or early-May release. The Very Best of Asleep at the Wheel will comprise 14 tracks and include such songs from the group’s live shows as “House of Blue Lights,” “My Baby Thinks She’s a Train,” “Miles and Miles of Texas,” “The Letter Johnny Walker Read,” “Route 66″ and “Big Balls in Cowtown” (RealAudio excerpt), which will be the first single and video. …

An exhibit of original Patsy Cline letters called “Love Always, Patsy: Letters From the Jewelry Box” will go on display March 5 at the Smithsonian-affiliated Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The exhibit is built around a series of letters Cline wrote to a young fan between 1955 and 1959, just as the singer’s career was getting underway. …

LeAnn Rimes has informed her fans, via a note on her official Web site, that she will not take part in Fan Fair 2001, due to “conflicting prior commitments.” Rimes, who publicly disavowed her new album, I Need You, is in a battle with her label, Curb Records, over her contract. The musical portions of Fan Fair are presented as record label concerts, in which artists from a particular label follow each other onstage. …

Tracy Byrd will perform a concert and host a bass fishing tournament and golf tournament in Beaumont, Texas, from March 30-April 1, to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. Joining Byrd in the March 30 concert at the Beaumont Civic Center will be Sammy Kershaw, Brad Paisley, Bill Engvall, and Mark Chesnutt. …

Radney Foster and his wife, music journalist Cyndi Hoelzle, say they plan a new Web zine to be called PureSpunk.com, dealing with roots music. Scheduled for the first issue of the zine are a feature on Rodney Crowell, 10 Questions with Keb’ Mo’, the “coolest gigs” in America, short fiction and a Song of the Month Club. …

The late Tammy Wynette will be the subject of a new musical coming to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. “Stand by Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story,” named for her signature song “Stand by Your Man” (RealAudio excerpt) and her 1979 autobiography of the same name, is scheduled to run September 13 through October 28. Auditions for the 10-member cast will be held at the Ryman and in New York in April. Wynette died in 1998. …

The CMA Awards ceremony has officially been moved to November 7, placing the live CBS telecast in the ratings sweeps period for the first time. The move lengthens the eligibility period for awards from 12 to 13 months. Held in September for many years, the show was moved to October last year to accommodate telecasts of the Olympic Games. Vince Gill will host for the 10th straight year. (Sonicnet.com’s parent company, Viacom, also owns CBS.) …

Dwight Yoakam is in the running for a gospel award. His song “Miner’s Prayer” has been nominated for a Dove Award in the Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year category. The song was recorded by New Tradition on their June album, Cradle, Cross, Crown. The 32nd Annual Dove Awards will be held April 26 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. …

Reba McEntire will headline a summer all-woman tour. Scheduled for the tour, to run July 10 through August 13, are Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Jamie O’Neal and Carolyn Dawn Johnson. …

BR5-49 and the Warren Brothers have been added to the talent lineup for George Strait‘s Country Music Festival. They will perform on the second stage on the all-stadium tour, which launches March 24 in Tampa, Florida. BR5-49 recently played at the Aspen, Colorado, wedding reception for “Almost Famous” actress Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes. …

Lucinda Williams and her new band are scheduled to perform at the Austin Music Awards, to be held at the Austin (Texas) Music Hall on March 13, the Austin Chronicle reports. Other scheduled performers are James Cotton, Vallejo and the Gourds. …

Randy Travis is working on an album combining new, original material and some of the songs he’s done in his movie and TV projects. The album is due in the fall from new label Relentless/Nashville. …

John Michael Montgomery has been added to the lineup for Fan Fair, scheduled for June 14–17 in downtown Nashville. Other artists joining the roster include Tracy Lawrence, Bryan White, South 65, Gary Allan, Tim Rushlow, Craig Morgan and Kristin Garner. Four-day tickets, allowing access to all events, are on sale and range from $90 to $115. …

— sonicnet.com staff report