July 17, 2009 — Toby Keith is taking part in a 9/11 tribute, Julianne Hough picked up an Emmy nomination and Merle Haggard has been sidelined from the road.
Numerous country stars — including Trace Adkins, Willie Nelson and Grand Ole Opry star Mel McDaniel, among them — are making news. Here's the rundown:
• A day after the Tennessee Titans visit Pittsburgh to kick off the National Football League season, Toby Keith will be in Pittsburgh at the Post Gazette Pavilion — but via a remote, he'll be able to take part in a special 9/11 tribute at the Steelers' stadium, Heinz Field. The event will honor the crew and passengers of Flight 93, the plane that went down in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists were overtaken by ticket-holders. Hosted by former Steelers Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier and Jerome Bettis, the Heinz Field event also features General Tommy Franks and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Sponsors hope to raise $300,000 to build a memorial to Flight 93.
• Julianne Hough and her brother, Derek, picked up an Emmy nomination Thursday for Outstanding Choreography for a routine they performed to "Great Balls Of Fire" on "Dancing With The Stars" in November. It's the second year in a row Julianne's been a finalist.
• Merle Haggard has cancelled a five-day run of shows because of back and neck pain, according to the Associated Press. Several of the concerts are festival dates and can't be rescheduled.
• Willie Nelson's Farm Aid benefit concert has been slated for Oct. 4 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis. Fellow Farm Aid board members John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews will also appear. Tickets go on sale July 25.
• A fire destroyed the church where Trace Adkins and Stephen Baldwin shot the video for "Muddy Water," according to The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle in Tennessee. Lightning might have sparked Wednesday's blaze at the Bethlehem United Methodist Church, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
• Mel McDaniel, hospitalized in a medically induced coma, will be the focus of an Aug. 13 benefit concert at the Nashville Palace, according to examiner.com. Among those slated to appear: Buddy Jewell, Gene Watson, David Ball, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jean Shepard, T. Graham Brown, Jim Ed Brown, Jan Howard, Rick Blaylock and Mel's road band, Ok lahoma Wind. Tickets are $10, with proceeds intended to aid Mel, known for such hits as "Louisiana Saturday Night," "Big Ole Brew" and "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On."