The Mega Star Series rolls on and this week it's Faith Hill. As I sat down to write this and recall her truly remarkable career, it's a hard pill to swallow that it began almost 30 years ago. We don't think of Faith in that light, but it's true. I proudly played all of Faith's country singles on great radio stations across the country for many years.
Early Faith - Big, Big Song
The idea of these articles is not to make it a biography per say, but to acknowledge the gifts that certain artists brought us in addition to the music, and in some cases still bring to us. Faith Hill was a major star for a number of years and brought us a lot of new listeners. She had that sound, talent, the look and the lifestyle that was right on time. She made fans want to be her, and live her life. She kind of had two musical careers too. Early Faith - which was very country in image and sound, and then a more pop sounding later career. Both did well.
Title Song - First Album
Faith Hill was and is an incredible pure vocalist as she would sound good singing the dictionary. She was blessed with incredible talent and we were lucky to have her. She broke through in 1993 with her first big album Take Me As I Am. Wild One was a gigantic hit as was the entire album. It sold an unheard of 3 million for a debut country album, and listeners had an instant love affair with her. In 1995 her second album, It Matters To Me came out and again was multi-platinum and had a ton of big songs. Country had been on a roll for a few years when she showed up and she really helped accelerate its mass popularity.
Always Loved This Song - Very Underrated
She of course married Tim McGraw and they are still married. Faith took a pause in her recording career per say, but was still out there being a big part of McGraw's enormous Everywhere album in 1997, recording It's Your Love and some other duets with him. Then album number three, Faith came out in 1998, selling 6 million copies and for me, this is the album that defined her perfectly. This Kiss was a huge hit, a great mix of country and pop. Her image was a bit different now and she was clearly mainstream country and pop. I think it's one of the great albums of the 1990's. The Breathe album was next and it too was a huge hit selling about 10 million total. She had incredible success in the 1990's, and when you look back at the numbers it is very impressive.
What A Hit! - 1998 - Perfect Artist For The Perfect Song
Over the years she was everywhere, recording for movie soundtracks, TV shows, the opening for Sunday Night Football for many years, and recorded one of the best National Anthems you will ever hear at a Superbowl. She acted in movies, on TV, the stage, and was seemingly out front every day doing something special, magazine covers too. She literally sang at about everything you could for a good long while. Faith Hill became a gigantic country star and pop culture icon and had fans from every avenue of society. Her stepping outside of strictly country with Faith was a big move for not only her, but she helped bring us new fans, fans that maybe would never have tried us, but they liked her so much it made everything better.
This Is Many Fans Favorite Faith Song
She sold a ridiculous amount of albums, about 40 million worldwide in a very short period of time. She won Grammy's, a truckload of CMA /ACM Awards, American Music Awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk OF Fame. She also has a whole lot of #1's and being honest, is one of the biggest stars overall we've had, especially from 1990's country. Funny how things work out. As her 2002 album Cry came out, this album was without question the project that solidified her as a legit pop star as it was clearly pointed in that direction. It's probably her best vocally, sold about 4 million, and won a Grammy. But in country it was a major turning point for her. I loved the single, Cry, but country overall did not at that moment. Nor did country react very well to the rest of the singles from the album. In the minds of many country fans, Faith had left us. I always felt country or not, the song Cry was one of her best all around songs.
Cry - I Always Loved This Song
Big success is never a mistake. But many others have tried the same thing, hoping that country will be the safety net for a project that has another motive. I always felt Taylor Swift did brave thing. She left us, and said so out loud. And she has had great success in pop after her incredible country run. To me, that was the right and brave play. In 40 plus consecutive years in Country Radio, I never really remember an act doing just that saying, "I'm OUT", and I'm going over here now.. for good!" Many times country fans don't want to feel like they are not good enough anymore. And in the minds of many in country, a new musical direction does exactly that. This didn't backfire on Faith because this album and her pop success was undeniable, but in some ways she never completely recovered with many country fans.
Early Faith - Another Underrated Song - Great Example of 1990's Country
A few years later her album, Fireflies came out and was far more country rooted again and Mississippi Girl was a big hit, as were a few more singles from that album. But the bulk of her big country charting success was behind her. But a whole bunch of successful tours were in front of her including Soul2Soul II tours with McGraw that were highly popular, and she was still a pop culture icon. There have been other albums, duets, tours, residencies, and projects since, and she is always near the surface.
Sunday Night Football For Many Years
But the real truth is this. Few country singers reach the heights that Faith Hill did. She did it all. Her sales figures are simply staggering and her popularity in country's biggest decade was mind blowing when the competition was fierce. She is an amazing singer, and has the ability galvanize audiences no matter where or what she is singing. She is in the same conversation as ANY of the HUGE singing stars of today, or from any modern era. From a humble concert setting to her Las Vegas residency, Faith Hill has been it all and done it all.
Great National Anthem - Brings Tears To Your Eyes
The term superstar probably gets tossed around too much in all avenues of our society, but here it is apt. Faith Hill was plain and simple - a Mega Star in every way.