Faith Hill has garnered five nominations in the upcoming Billboard Music Awards show, set for December 5 in Las Vegas. She was second only to Santana's six nods. In addition to nominations in the two country categories (artist and album of the year, for Breathe), Hill got nods for Female Artist of the year, Hot 100 Singles Artist and for Hot 100 Single ("Breathe"). Country Artist of the Year nominations also went to the Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw and George Strait. Country Album nominations also went to the Chicks (for Fly), McGraw (A Place in the Sun) and Shania Twain (Come on Over). Winners are decided by the 2000 year-end charts compiled from Billboard's weekly charts published from December 1999 to December 2000. ...

Nashville mayor Bill Purcell made the official announcement Tuesday (November 28): Fan Fair is moving to downtown Nashville next year. The 30th annual country star-fan lovefest leaves the 20,000-seat Tennessee State Fairgrounds for Adelphia Coliseum, which can hold 50,000. Besides main music shows at Adelphia, other Fan Fair events will take place just across the Cumberland River at the Nashville Convention Center, Riverfront Park, the Ryman Auditorium and the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Now officially being dubbed "the world's biggest country music festival," the event will take place June 14-17. Artists already committed to play include Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Lonestar, Patty Loveless, Jo Dee Messina, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood. Around 200 artists performed last year. ...

Country music parodist Cledus T. Judd will be the opening act for Brooks & Dunn on their December 4-6 run at the Las Vegas Hilton. ... Faith Hill's Thanksgiving television special, "Faith!," drew 13.9 million viewers, the best CBS Thursday night audience since last Thanksgiving's Shania Twain concert, Variety reports. ...

The Dixie Chicks have been added to the lineup of performers for the Billboard Music Awards, to be held December 5 in Las Vegas and televised on Fox. Faith Hill is also scheduled to sing. ...

Kinky Friedman will host a benefit concert at Austin, Texas' La Zona Rosa on December 10 for local fiddle player Mary Hattersley, who is battling breast cancer. The concert, known as Sweet Mary Aid (after Hattersley's nickname), will feature Asleep at the Wheel, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kelly Willis, Bruce Robison, Shawn Colvin, Willis Alan Ramsey, Damon Bramblett, Mojo Nixon, the Austin Lounge Lizards, Marcia Ball and others. The 8 p.m. concert will be preceded by a 3 p.m. kids' matinee show with Alvin Crow and other artists. Among the items available at the show will be a CD of Hattersley's 1972 jam session in Austin with the Grateful Dead, Doug Sahm and Leon Russell. ...

Thieves stole Christmas figures from the lawn of George Jones' farm near Nashville over the weekend, the Associated Press reports. Missing from Jones' display are Santa Claus, a cow and a choir of carolers. The exhibit has become an area tradition and is annually viewed by many. ...

Kathy Mattea joins a cast that includes Charlotte Church and Billy Gilman, who will sing at the 77th annual Christmas Pageant of Peace in Washington D.C., Monday, December 11, at 5 p.m. ET, televised on C-Span and HGTV. President Bill Clinton will press the button that lights the 40-foot national Christmas tree at the conclusion of the event.

Also featured this year will be the United States Navy Band and the West Tennessee Youth Chorus.

Mattea also performs in her first Christmas TV special this year, "Sounds Of The Season," which will air on an as yet unspecified date in December on public TV. She also begins a Christmas tour, with the following dates: November 30, New London, Connecticut; December 1, Northampton, Massachusetts; December 2, Scranton, Pennsylvania; December 4 & 5, New York City; December 9, Ponca City, Oklahoma; December 14, Normal, Illinois; December 15, Kalamazoo, Michigan; December 17, Orono, Maine; December 19, Millburn, New Jersey; December 20; Schenectady, New York. ...

Country singer and founding member of the Texas Tornados Freddy Fender has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C in Corpus Christi, Texas, and is experiencing kidney complications associated with the Hepatitis, said a representative for the singer. Fender is undergoing dialysis treatments and is being evaluated for a liver transplant. He has continued to play occasional dates. …

As an offshoot of the burgeoning Americana Music movement, Lucinda Williams lands on a new Nashville record label, where she'll be joined by Robert Earl Keen, Kim Richey and Ryan Adams. The four are managed by Frank Callari, who is starting the as-yet-unnamed label with Mercury Nashville. …

— sonicnet.com staff report