Faith Hill and Tim McGraw: A Lasting Love Story
The world will never get bored of the truly American-hearted sound of country music. In the spirit of Johnny Cash and June Carter, who stole the spotlight in the 1960s and '70s, today's country music darlings are none other than Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
With his cowboy hat, chiseled jaw and guitar and her flaxen wavy hair, perfect cheekbones and rockin' voice, these two are made for the front cover of both albums and magazines. Like most love stories, the couple has experienced many ups and downs, separately and together, but they continue to prove that love (and country music) can last.
Tim Had a Challenging Childhood
Tim McGraw's father, Tug McGraw, was a famous baseball player. When Tim's mother became pregnant in high school, Tug refused to admit he was the father. Tim's mother later married an abusive man who failed to provide the fatherly support that Tim was so desperately seeking in his life.
Tim has said the dysfunction and instability he experienced growing up was healed through meeting Faith, who provided stability and support when he hadn't had this in his past.
Faith Had a Tough Childhood, Too
Faith has recalled feeling like a "gypsy spirit" who didn't resemble anyone else in her family. As an adopted child, she was curious about her biological parents and says she dreamed of being Elvis Presley's daughter. She has said of her childhood that she had "a sense of not knowing who you are."
Faith’s first marriage to Daniel Hill ended in divorce not long before she first met Tim McGraw.
Faith and Religion
Raised in a devout Baptist family, Faith first discovered her voice when singing in church. She has said, "The music that inspired me early on was the music I heard in church … when I was a teenager, I sang in black churches, Pentecostal, and I'm really inspired by that music."
Still a committed Christian, she has said religion is where her strength is derived. "I was raised in a Christian home, and it prepared me to deal with life on my own … Having a backbone of spirituality makes me a little stronger. I pray a lot, and when I first moved to Nashville, that's what kept me alive. I believed I was being taken care of."
They Met in Nashville
The duo met at a country radio seminar in Nashville, Tenn., back in 1994. McGraw had a girlfriend at the time, though his attraction to Faith was immediate. He told “Billboard” magazine, "For me, there was an intense physical attraction."
McGraw recalls that he pursued Hill with vigor, but it took a lot of perseverance for her to finally accept a date with him. When she finally gave in, McGraw showed up at her doorstep with chicken, dumplings and cornbread that he’d made himself. He even brought cutlery, telling Hill he wasn’t sure if she preferred to eat dumplings with a fork or a spoon.
Faith Supported Him on Tour
In 1996, Faith was engaged to producer Scott Hicks when Tim asked her to be the supporting act on his headline “Spontaneous Combustion” tour. Months later, she had parted ways with her fiancé, and McGraw and Hill became an official couple.
Hill told “People” magazine that she was willing to be criticized to pursue her heart. “If someone is going to judge my character because I was engaged to somebody and then I left him for somebody else — 'Oh, okay, now she's a slut and a bad person' — I can't control that. But I wasn't about to let Tim slip through my hands.”
McGraw Proposed Onstage
McGraw recalls that he dropped to his knees onstage after one of Hill's performances and said, "I'm really serious. I want you to marry me."
When he came offstage after his own performance, Hill had written a message on his mirror reading, "Yes, I'm gonna be your wife! I love you," with a Sharpie pen. This was on June 26, 1996, and they were married only months later in Rayville, La.
McGraw says he still has that mirror to this day, after 30 years of marriage.
Hill Shows Off Her Baby Bump
Already three months pregnant at their October wedding, Hill showed off her full baby bump at the 24th annual American Music Awards in 1997. She gave birth to daughter, Gracie Katherine, in May that same year.
The couple followed the birth of their first daughter with another first: their first duet. "It's Your Love" was released on McGraw's album, "Everywhere," and was critically lauded, reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for six weeks.
The video for the single won the Country Music Awards’ Video of the Year in 1997.
Two More Daughters and a Major Tour
Gracie Katherine was joined by Maggie Elizabeth in August 1998. The couple also celebrated more American Country Music Awards wins that same year.
Then in 2001, they welcome their third daughter, Audrey Caroline. This was also the year they attended the Grammys after wrapping up a combined tour, called Soul2Soul, that earned more than $50 million, and attracted some 950,000 people across the country.
McGraw's Move Into Acting
With three Grammys, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and 11 Country Music Association Awards, McGraw would be forgiven for sticking to what he does best. But he also has proven himself to be a skilled actor.
McGraw debuted in the 2004 movie “Friday Night Lights” as an abusive father. He followed this up with a role as a sheriff in the independent film, “Black Cloud.” Having developed a taste for film, McGraw co-starred with Sam Worthington in the faith-based “The Shack,” a story of forgiveness adapted from William P. Young's bestseller. McGraw told Knox News, "I'm always searching for big themes that you can just reach outside the norm of what you're doing."
The Two Hit the Road Again
Hill and McGraw were confident enough after the success of their Soul2Soul tour to again combine forces for the Soul2Soul II tour in 2006.
Their confidence proved justified when the tour was the most attended tour of any musical genre in 2006 and the highest-grossing North American tour in country music history.
Las Vegas Calls
A 20-show residency at Las Vegas' Venetian Theater saw the duo performing for four months in a theatrical environment that allowed them freedom to dictate the creative elements of their show. They named the residency their Soul2Soul concerts, which began on Dec. 7, 2012.
McGraw told a press conference at the time that he appreciated the opportunity to perform with his wife without the travel and family separation that can be typical of cross-country tours.
By 2016, McGraw and Hill had truly established their roles as King and Queen of the country music scene in America. Their contribution to country music and to the city of Nashville earned them each a star on the Music Row Walk of Fame in the city's renowned Music Mile.
The same year, the duo celebrated their 20-year anniversary, though Hill’s plans were to stay in, binge watching television, she told “Us Weekly.”
An Album, a Tour and an Exhibition
In 2017, McGraw and Hill set off on Soul2Soul: The World Tour. Beginning in April, they performed 80 sold-out venues and extended the tour beyond its initial timeline. The same year, the duo released a duets album, "The Rest of our Life," performing tracks together on American television to promote it.
Aligning with the release of their first duets album, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville debuted an exhibit devoted to the couple. "Tim McGraw & Faith Hill: Mississippi Woman, Louisiana Man" allowed the public to explore personal and professional memorabilia belonging to the couple.
Support for Gun Control Measures
In 2017, the couple also called for gun control laws following the Las Vegas shooting at a country music festival, which killed 58 people.
McGraw told “Billboard” magazine, “Look, I’m a bird hunter — I love to wing-shoot,” he said. “However, there is some common sense that’s necessary when it comes to gun control. They want to make it about the Second Amendment every time it’s brought up. It’s not about the Second Amendment.”
A Charitable Pair
Throughout the years, Hill and McGraw have donated time and money to causes they believe matter most. McGraw took over his late father’s foundation, which was started in 2003 to help enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors. The duo also donated $1 million to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
McGraw and Hill are staunch Democratic supporters. Hill donated $7,500 to the Democratic National Committee in 2004, and $5,000 to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. She also performed at his inaugural celebration. McGraw has joined his wife in supporting the Democratic party, saying "My wife and I and our family will do everything we can to support Obama." Tim McGraw also performed at President Joe Biden's inauguration. They identify as "blue-dog" Democrats, meaning they have moderate, common sense-based political views, but lean left.
A Rocky Road
Rumors of unfaithfulness and divorce have dogged the couple over the past decades. In April 2016, several media outlets claimed McGraw and Hill were headed for divorce. “Star” magazine said the pair was "living separate lives" in 2016, and also predicted an expensive divorce. With a combined worth of $135 million at the time, the consequences for the duo of dividing assets could have proven messy tabloid fodder.
The “National Enquirer” went so far as to claim that McGraw was pursuing Taylor Swift, while at the same time rumors alluded to the fact that McGraw was gay.
They Defy Rumors
To celebrate his wife's 51st birthday in 2018, McGraw shared a collection of personal photos on his Instagram account. He also devoted a message to Hill that softened even the most skeptical of hearts.
"From the first time we met, I knew (she didn't!) that she was the love of my life forever … No matter the ups and downs, the happy and sad or the good and bad. She's so special and so loved by us. Happy birthday my love. When I wake up next to you in our 80s … I'll smile at the life we've built."
The two are very social media savvy, each with their own Facebook and Instagram profiles, which they regularly use to share news with their fans and followers. In 2019, McGraw released two books that became New York Times best sellers. He rejoined Big Machine Records in 2020, but his planned tour was cancelled. (Thanks, COVID.) Since then, he released a few new singles and a new album entitled "Here on Earth."
Hill, the winner of five Grammy Awards, 15 Academy of Country Music Awards and six American Music Awards, has slowed down on new music production, but she's plenty busy. She's starring in Paramount TV's 1883 series, and she's always posting heartfelt updates about her family, friends and latest endeavors.