Born: September 21, 1967, in Jackson, Mississippi.
When she was a week old, a little girl who would grow up to be one of the world’s most beloved performers was adopted. Her new parents named her Audrey Faith Perry, and took her home to live in the tiny town of Star, Mississippi. At the age of seven, at a 4-H luncheon, she sang in front of an audience for the first time. She then joined the church choir, where she sang her heart out every Sunday.
At 17, Audrey formed a country band that played at local rodeos. Encouraged by this modest success, at age 19 she quit college and headed for Nashville. She hoped, like countless others before her, to become a star. At first the nearest she could get to stardom was selling T-shirts at concerts. Later she was hired as office help by singer-songwriter Gary Morris. Morris overheard her singing along with the radio as she worked, and invited her to perform on a demo tape. That led to her first job as a professional singer: backup vocalist for songwriter/musician Gary Burr, who would later become her co-producer. Audrey was singing with Burr at Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Café when she was discovered by a Warner Brothers executive. He urged her to change her name and get busy recording solo albums.
In 1993 Warner Brothers released Faith Hill’s debut album, “Take Me as I Am,” which included the song “Wild One.” By January 1994, “Wild One” reached the number one position on Billboard’s country singles chart. It became the first debut single by a female vocalist in more than 30 years to hold the number-one spot for four consecutive weeks. Two other singles, including the title track, also reached number one. The album itself went on to sell 2 million copies.
The title song on Hill’s 1995 album, “It Matters to Me,” rose quickly to become a number-one hit. It also led her to team up with another rising star, Tim McGraw, for the Spontaneous Combustion Tour. During the tour, Hill and McGraw became engaged and got married. They became country music’s most glamorous couple. Their first duet, “It’s Your Love,” rose to the top of the charts and stayed there for six weeks.
In 1998, Hill’s album, “Faith,” included her first cross-over hit, “This Kiss.” The recording moved to number one on Billboard’s country singles chart and rose to number seven on the Hot 100 pop chart. That song and other hit singles, including “Let Me Let Go,” and “Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me,” helped “Faith” sell more than 5 million copies. As a result, Hill was invited to be a spokesperson for Cover Girl Cosmetics. She was given modeling gigs and appeared on the covers of many magazines. Her meteoric rise landed her a spot in the enormously popular “Divas Live” concert on VH1. Hill shared the stage with Tina Turner, Cher, and Whitney Houston.
But she was just getting started. Hill toured 50 cities on her first series of live performances as a headliner. Then she returned to the studio. Six weeks later, Hill completed her 1999 album, “Breathe.” The songs on this album mixed such musical styles as country, pop, gospel, and rhythm and blues. It debuted at the top of the country album and Top 200 charts. The album ultimately sold more than 7 million copies. The title track topped the charts in country, adult contemporary, and Top 40.
Hill earned three Grammy Awards in 2000: Best Country Album; Female Country Vocal Performance; and Best Country Collaboration (for a duet with McGraw, “Let’s Make Love”). The couple’s Soul 2 Soul tour later that year was the top-drawing country tour of 2000. It helped earn Hill the female vocalist of the year award from the Country Music Association.
As the albums continued, the awards kept piling up and fame came knocking. Hill filmed steamy music videos. She starred in such high-profile television performances as Super Bowl XXXIV, the 1996 Summer Olympics, and the 2000 Academy Awards. These made her one of the most familiar faces and voices in country and pop music.
When she’s not performing, Hill spends time with her husband and their three daughters. She also promotes her nonprofit charity, The Faith Hill Family Literacy Project, which fights illiteracy around the world. In Hill’s case, it’s personal. Her father, who was one of 14 children, never learned to read. He was forced to quit school at an early age in order to help support his family. His daughter says her dream now is that “someday every person will be able to read.”