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COUNTRY PEOPLE

(ran GB edition)

COUNTRY ROADS: Vince Gill had no trouble finding a way to pay tribute to friend and influence John Denver Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry. Appearing during the Opry's televised segment on the Nashville Network, Gill recalled that he and his father made a home recording of Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads when Gill was in the seventh or eighth grade. "It's the first tape that I have of me singing," he said. Gill and Denver played golf together, and Denver recently recorded Gill's song about his daughter, Jenny Dreamed of Trains. Gill performed the song on a guitar that belonged to his late father and invited the Opry House audience to join him in singing the song, saying, "Let's honor ole John tonight."

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Naomi Judd hosted Make a Difference Day festivities last weekend at the Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tenn. Judd worked as a nurse at the facility before starting her singing career. She emceed a program presented by Kids on Stage performers and served as a celebrity judge on a panel that awarded more than $130,000 from Paul Newman's company, Newman's Own, to charities chosen by participants who submit the most unique projects. "You can't help everyone," Judd says, "but you must try to help someone."

GOOD CAUSE: Garth Brooks, Rhett Akins, John Anderson, Ray Benson, Ruby Lovett, Neal McCoy and Collin Raye were among country stars entertaining participants at the 15th annual Academy of Country Music Bill Boyd Golf Classic held Monday in Burbank, Calif. Brooks' 1986 Chevy Silverado longbed pickup truck, shown in the video for If Tomorrow Never Comes, fetched $20,500 in an auction. Beneficiaries of the event include the T.J. Martell Foundation and the Los Angeles Shriners' Hospital for Crippled Children.

GLIMPSES: Kathy Mattea performed at the Women in Cable & Telecommunications' 13th annual benefit gala this week at the Sheraton Washington in Washington, D.C. The event honored Discovery Communications Inc. for its innovative Work/Life Program . . . Trace Adkins launched his new album, Big Time with a "worldwide radio premiere" Oct. 21 on SJS Entertainment. The 90-minute program was broadcast live from Blockbuster Music in Arlington, Texas . . . Dwight Yoakam will join Dean Miller in a performance of It Only Hurts When I Cry on an upcoming TNN Special honoring Miller's father, the late Roger Miller. Yoakam and the senior Miller wrote and recorded the song together for Yoakam's 1990 album, If There Was a Way.

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