Today” has been in a country music state of mind all week. The longest-running morning TV show hosted Dolly Parton midweek, and the most successful and prolific female artist across genres (with Grammy and Guinness world record status to prove it) was ecstatic, discussing her new “Heartstrings” series for Netflix. The biographical chronology traces the history of many of Parton’s most treasured songs and relates them to periods in her life and career. Dolly always has time for a special “Hello” for everyone, and she stopped by the control room to give a special hug to Harvey, a “Today” show production assistant, who has been singing the superstar’s full catalog since his childhood in Virginia.

Dolly remembered to shout out to Harvey's grandmother, too.

It's hard to resist the down-home feel of Nashville, much less the atmosphere soaked in song, and the third-cohosts of “Today” made themselves right at home in Nashville this morning, November 22. Al Roker, Craig Melvin, Sheinelle Jones, and a long-distance Dylan Dreyer welcomed their favorite Nashville resident, Kathie Lee Gifford, for the hour, along with good company who proved that music, food, and fun are all about acceptance and inclusion.

Always room for one more

It didn't take a New York-minute for Kathie Lee Gifford to have her stool alongside her old “Today” friends, and she is still thrilled with her new southern roots. “I haven't moved here, but I live here,” she describes, still gushing over the “culture of kindness” that thrives in the growing city over the chaos and constant stress in many huge cities. The proud mama was thrilled to have both her engaged kids, Cody and Cassidy, along with their intended loves, home with her for long Thanksgiving week.

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An engagement ring balloon bouquet was presented to her in honor of the news.

Gifford has always had an open heart and an open door, and this morning, she brought along Brian “Head” Welch, the guitarist and co-founder of the heavy metal band, Korn, who has openly shared his transformational journey of faith since 2008. Welch was there for friendship and support, never taking the stage at Pinewood Social, where friends can meet morning to night for breakfast, lunch, and evening cocktail, or a game of bowling.

Jimmie Allen is a long-time friend of “Today” and Gifford, and the “Best Shot” singer and expectant father joined Hunter Hayes in elaborating that Nashville appreciates and fosters music across every genre and creative realm, from Christian artists to rappers and country legends-- it has become home to everyone. Allen reflected on his personal story when he said that “people come for the music, but they stay because of how the people here make them feel.”

No one feels at home without a good meal, and all the “Today” co-hosts dove into dishes from famous Nashville barbecue to “Bonuts” (biscuit donuts) and other confections galore.

Gifford praised how the local cuisine has transformed from “everything fried” to a rich menu of local vegetables and other products, all featured in signature dishes.

Vanderbilt quarterback, Mo Hasan, initiated his Second Spoon food mission in 2016. Determined to offer 40% of already-prepared and processed food that gets discarded to hungry people in need. Hasan has now served hundreds of thousands of meals with fellow students and has a mobile truck that he bought from craigslist. Giving is bred into the southern culture. Several of the local restaurant owners related the percentages donated to local pantries from favorite dishes served.

The guys and girls go separate ways

Hospitality doesn’t only come from a table. Craig Melvin and Al Roker slowly swigged on preferred local beers-- a vocational benefit they both enjoyed. They also treated themselves to a leisurely straight- razor shave at the best barbershop in “The Gulch” area of Nashville. Al couldn't resist ribbing Craig about the balding spots on his 40--year-old head. Just when Craig was dozing off, Al whispered “I love you” into his ear. This guy-thing fun is going strong.

Dylan Dreyer was on doctor's orders to stay home this morning, being passed her 32-week mark in pregnancy. She made a preview Nashville visit with Sheinelle Jones awhile back, though, and both ladies fell in love with White’s Mercantile, owned by Holly Williams, the daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and respected artist in her own right. Dylan quickly decided that “I want one of everything in this store,” checking off her Christmas list. Meanwhile, Sheinelle spied things for herself. Jones surprised Dylan with a pair of baby cowboy boots, sure to fit the baby brother for months after his birth.

Feeling full and fully loved, the “Today” third-hour hosts are probably always keeping reasons to return to Nashville handy.

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