I thought we’d share a little country music this week, focusing on the ladies.
Today’s selection: Faith Hill
Faith Hill (born Audrey Faith Perry; September 21, 1967) is an American country pop singer and occasional actress. Her voice type is a mezzo-soprano. She is married to Country superstar Tim McGraw, with whom she has recorded several successful duets. Hill has sold more than 40 million records worldwide.
Hill’s first two albums, Take Me as I Am (1993) and It Matters to Me (1995), established her as a popular country singer. The pair placed a combined three No. 1’s on Billboard’s country charts and each received multi-platinum certifications in the U.S. But the release of her next two albums, Faith (1998) and Breathe (1999), brought Hill mainstream, crossover and international success, by achieving high positions and huge sales globally. Faith spawned her first international hit, “This Kiss”, and went multi-platinum in various countries. Breathe became her best-selling album to date and one of the best-selling country albums of all time, by being buoyed by the huge crossover success of her best known single, “Breathe”. It went multi-platinum in several countries around the world and earned Hill three Grammy Awards, including Best Country Album. In 2001, she recorded “There You’ll Be” for the soundtrack of the movie Pearl Harbor and the song became an international success and her best-selling single in Europe. Hill’s next two albums, Cry (2002) and Fireflies (2005), kept her mainstream popularity. The former went multi-platinum and spawned another crossover single, “Cry”, which won Hill a Grammy Award. The latter went multi-platinum as well, bolstered by the success of the singles “Mississippi Girl” and “Like We Never Loved at All”, which earned her another Grammy Award.
Hill has won five Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, four American Music Awards and several other awards. Her Soul2Soul II Tour 2006 with McGraw became the highest-grossing country tour of all time. In 2001, she was named one of the “30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies Home Journal. In 2009, Billboard named her as the No. 1 Adult Contemporary artist of the 2000 decade and also as the 39th best artist. Hill was, from 2007 to 2012, the voice of NBC Sunday Night Football’s intro song.
1993–1997: Country success
Hill’s debut album was Take Me as I Am (1993); sales were strong, buoyed by the chart success of “Wild One”. Hill became the first female country singer in 30 years to hold Billboard’s number one position for four consecutive weeks when “Wild One” managed the feat in 1994. Her version of “Piece of My Heart”, also went to the top of the country charts in 1994. The album sold a total of 3 million copies. Other singles from the album include “Take Me as I Am”.
The recording of Faith’s second album was delayed by surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel on her vocal cords. It Matters to Me finally appeared in 1995 and was another success, with the title track becoming her fourth number-one country single. Several other top 10 singles followed, and more than 3 million copies of the album were sold. The fifth single from the album, “I Can’t Do That Anymore”, was written by country music artist Alan Jackson. Other singles from the album include “You Can’t Lose Me”, “Someone Else’s Dream”, and “Let’s Go to Vegas”
In spring 1996, Hill began the Spontaneous Combustion Tour with country singer Tim McGraw. At that time, Hill had recently become engaged to her former producer, Scott Hendricks, and McGraw had recently broken an engagement. McGraw and Hill were quickly attracted to each other and began an affair. After discovering that Hill was pregnant with their first child, the couple married on October 6, 1996. The couple have three daughters together: Gracie Katherine (b. 1997), Maggie Elizabeth (b. 1998) and Audrey Caroline (b. 2001). Since their marriage, Hill and McGraw have endeavored never to be apart for more than three consecutive days.
After the release of It Matters to Me, Hill took a three-year break from recording to give herself a rest from four years of touring and to begin a family with McGraw. During her break, she joined forces with her husband for their first duet, “It’s Your Love”. The song stayed at number one for six weeks, and won awards from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. Hill has remarked that sometimes when they perform the song together, “it [doesn’t] feel like anybody else was really watching.”
1998–2003: Pop crossover breakthrough
She reentered the music business in 1998 with Faith. The album showcased her progression toward a more mainstream, pop-oriented sound, although it retained some country sound. “This Kiss” became a number one country hit, and was the first of her singles to place on the pop charts, peaking at number seven. More than six million copies of the album were sold. The album also delivered several other hits including another duet with McGraw, “Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me”, “Let Me Let Go” and “The Secret Of Life”.
To follow up this newfound success, Hill immediately released Breathe, which debuted at the top of the Billboard Country and all genre charts, ahead of albums by Mariah Carey and Savage Garden. Although the album had few overt country sounds, it “complement[ed] her vocal strengths.” For the first time, the album consisted solely of songs about love and did not venture into the more somber territory that her previous albums had touched. The title track, “Breathe”, reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “The Way You Love Me” hit the top 10 as well, topping out at number six on the charts. The album won Hill three Grammy Awards including Best Country Album, Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for “Let’s Make Love” featuring Tim McGraw and Best Country Female Vocal Performance for “Breathe.” It also marked a step away from her girl-next-door image, as the videos and promotional pictures all portrayed a much sexier image. Breathe has sold almost 10 million copies worldwide.
2000 was an especially busy year for Hill. Besides a successful tour with her husband, Hill was featured in a CBS television special, VH1’s Behind the Music, VH1 Divas 2000, and the Lifetime cable channel’s Intimate Portraits series. She signed an endorsement deal with CoverGirl makeup, performed at the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards, appeared on the cover of numerous magazines, and performed the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Hill was also named to Mr. Blackwell’s 10-best dressed women of 2000, the only singer listed among actresses and other celebrities. Hill and McGraw also embarked on their first Soul2Soul tour, the “Soul2Soul Tour 2000.”
Musically, in 2000 Hill recorded a song for the movie Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, entitled “Where Are You Christmas.” The song also appeared on the pop and country charts. Hill’s success on the pop charts disturbed some country music insiders, who questioned whether she was trying to dismiss her country roots and move into the pop genre. Despite the grumbling, Hill won the CMA Female Vocalist of The Year Award, and in her acceptance speech announced, “I love this business, and I love this industry… and my heart is here.”
In 2001, Hill recorded a song for the Pearl Harbor soundtrack which was originally offered to Celine Dion. It is one of her most critically acclaimed song. Besides, as how she said it in her own words, “One of the biggest honor of my career is being asked to sing a theme from Pearl Harbor.” “There You’ll Be” also appeared on the album There You’ll Be: The Best Of Faith Hill, an international greatest hits album. The album featured dance mixes of “Breathe” and “The Way You Love Me” along with alternate versions of “Piece Of My Heart” and “Let Me Let Go.” “There You’ll Be” is considered to be Faith Hill’s biggest hit single in the UK up to date. The song was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In 2002, Hill released her new album with a more pop-oriented sound, Cry. The album “spotlight[ed] her impressive set of pipes,” but also marked the completion of her “transformation into a pop diva,” containing few nods to her country roots. Though the album debuted at number one on Billboard magazine’s pop and country album charts, and Hill made her debut as musical guest on Saturday Night Live, the album’s singles (including the title track “Cry”, written and originally performed by Angie Aparo) received much less radio airplay than her previous smashes. The album however, did win a Grammy Award and 3.7 million copies have been sold worldwide.
Hill’s 2002 song “Baby You Belong” off her Cry album was used as the theme song for the movie Lilo & Stitch. The music video featured clips from the movie as well as performance clips.
2005–2006: Return to country
In concert in Dallas on the Soul2Soul II Tour, July 29, 2006
In 2005, Hill returned with her new country album, Fireflies. The CD debuted on top of the Billboard Country and all genre album charts, placing her among only a handful of artists to have three consecutive albums debut at number one on both charts. The debut single, “Mississippi Girl”, became Hill’s highest-debuting single. The song was written specifically for her by John Rich (of Big and Rich) and Adam Shoenfield of MuzikMafia, and tells the abbreviated story of her life. Hill recorded two other songs by Rich, “Sunshine and Summertime” and “Like We Never Loved at All”, both of which became successful singles. The title track, “Stealing Kisses” and “If You Ask” were written by artist Lori McKenna and also appear on McKenna’s albums. The album marked a return to Hill’s country roots and succeeded in reestablishing her place on country radio.
In 2006, after a six-year break from touring following the birth of her youngest daughter, Hill and husband Tim McGraw embarked on their Soul2Soul II Tour 2006. The tour became the highest grossing country music tour ever with a gross of $90 million. It was named “Major Tour of the Year” by the prestigious Pollstar, beating out such heavyweights as Madonna and the Rolling Stones.
2007–2010: The Hits, Joy to the World and Sunday Night Football
In 2007, Hill started work on her first domestic greatest hits package, titled The Hits, which was released on October 2. It contains two new tracks, “Lost” and “Red Umbrella”, as well as 13 additional tracks. The album also features hits covering her entire career from 1993–2005. Included with the 2-Disc Special-Edition of The Hits is a DVD of 11 of Hill’s music videos. The DVD substitutes the Tim McGraw duet “Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me” for their “I Need You” duet on the CD.
She’s also featured on husband Tim McGraw’s 2007 album Let It Go. She sings two duets with him, “I Need You” and “Shotgun Rider.” Both songs were sung at the couple’s critically acclaimed Soul2Soul II Tour 2006. She and Tim also did an encore of their Soul2Soul II Tour; Soul2Soul 2007 began in June and ran through August. The song I Need You has been nominated twice at the 2008 Grammy Awards for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals and Best Country Song. The show took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA on February 10, 2008 but the song didn’t win.
In 2007 Hill took over as the signature voice of NFL on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, singing the theme song about which the show’s producer said:
It’s not often that you get the opportunity to have a mega-star like Faith Hill perform the signature open to your show.
Hill performed the opening theme until April 15, 2013, when she announced that she will no longer sing the intro for Sunday Night Football.
In September 2008, Hill issued her first Christmas album, titled Joy to the World. The compilation was given positive reviews, including about.com, which gave the album four and a half out of five stars, calling the album, “a great collection of classic Christmas songs”. Hill continually worked on the album two years prior to its official release. The album included one new track, “A Baby Changes Everything”, which was released as the album’s only single in late 2008. The song debuted at No. 24 on Billboard’s AC chart, and quickly rose to No. 1, becoming Hill’s fourth number one on that chart.
On February 1, 2009, Hill performed “America the Beautiful” at the Super Bowl XLIII pregame show. The other performers at the pregame show were Jennifer Hudson and Journey, and Bruce Springsteen performed at the Halftime show.
In October 2010, Hill contributed to the Country Strong soundtrack. On it, she recorded a song titled ‘Give In To Me’. Hill also appears on Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute To Loretta Lynn, on which she performs “Love Is The Foundation”. Hill also contributed her vocals on the Ryan Tedder penned song “All I Ever Wanted” for the 2010 feature film Life As We Know It. The song was used in trailers to promote the film and also appeared during the end credits of the film.