Audrey Faith Perry, a.k.a. Faith Hill, was raised in the town of Star, 25 miles outside of Jackson, Mississippi. Brought up in a devout Christian household, along with her two older brothers by adoptive parents Pat and Edna Perry. Her first singing experience came as a child in her family’s Baptist church. As a young teenager, Hill learned to play guitar, and by age 16 she had started her own country band that played at a number of local fairs and rodeos. After graduating from high school in 1986, Hill spent a year in community college before moving to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue her love of music.
While in Nashville, she met and married a songwriter and music publishing executive named Daniel Hill. Her breakthrough came when she was spotted by a talent scout from the Warner/Reprise recording company, while singing back-up for Gary Burr in the Bluebird Café, a popular Nashville bar. Her debut album, Take Me As I Am, was released in 1993 to immediate success. The album’s first single, “Wild One,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard country music chart and stayed there for four weeks.
Hill’s rise to country stardom coincided with a good deal of upheaval in her personal life. In 1990, she had begun a search for her birth mother, whom she eventually met in 1993. Hill has declined to publicly name her birth mother in order to protect her privacy, but has remained in contact with her. Shortly after the release of her album, Hill found her marriage falling apart. She and Daniel Hill divorced in 1994.
In the spring of 1996, Hill began a joint tour, dubbed the Spontaneous Combustion tour, with country superstar Tim McGraw. At the time, McGraw had recently broken an engagement to Kristine Donahue, and Hill was engaged to Scott Hendricks, a record producer who had helmed her first two albums. Nonetheless, sparks flew, and the two began a romantic relationship behind closed doors. How could she not fall for the bad boy with the growly voice?
Tim McGraw grew up thinking he was the son of Horace Smith. When he was 11 years old, he discovered his birth certificate and saw his biological father’s surname. Turns out, that father was former baseball player Tug McGraw. Tug, unaware that he’d knocked up 18-year-old Betty Dagostino, left town. When Tim was seven months old, Betty married Horace Smith, whom she told Tim was his father. Ironically, McGraw had Tug’s baseball card taped to his bedroom wall even before he knew he was his father. Tim contacted Tug and after years of being ignored, Tug finally began to develop a relationship with his estranged son.
McGraw left college early to move to Nashville. He picked up guitar and began performing anywhere he could. It didn’t take long for him to become one of the most popular “Young Country” stars to emerge in the 1990s. After the release of his second album in 1994, McGraw quickly began to top charts and pack arenas.
While on tour with Faith Hill in Montana, he popped the question in his dressing room, which was housed in a trailer. He later reminisced about the event in an interview with People magazine: “She said, ‘I can’t believe you’re asking me to marry you in a trailer house,’ and I said, ‘Well, we’re country singers, what do you expect?’”
The happy couple married on October 6, 1996. Their daughter, Gracie, was born in 1997, and another daughter, Maggie, was born the following year. They now have three daughters. In May 2000, Hill and McGraw launched the Soul2Soul Tour, which stands as the highest grossing country music tour ever. In addition to her 5 Grammy Awards, Hill has also won 12 Academy of Country Music Awards, 4 American Music Awards, 4 People’s Choice Awards, and 3 Country Music Association Awards. McGraw’s list of awards is just as impressive, with the two combining to win a Grammy for Vocal Collaboration with the song Let’s Make Love.
In addition to her thriving career and family, Hill devotes a good deal of time to her charity organization, the Faith Hill Family Literacy Project, launched in 1996 with the cooperation of Warner Bros. and Time Warner.
“There’s a lot of people who can pick up a guitar and sing you a great song, but there’s very few people that can tell you how they feel. That’s the main purpose of acting or doing an opera or painting or anything. It’s to tell somebody how you feel and more importantly, tell them how they feel.”—Tim McGraw
Watch their adorable new video here: