236 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI FAITH HILL Grammy-winning country artist Faith Hill was born on September 21, 1967, in Jackson. Adopted as an infant and named Audrey Faith Perry, she grew up in the small Mississippi town of Star. She began singing for her family when she was just three years old, and at age seven gave her first public performance at a local luncheon. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, Hill sang whenever she could, and by age nineteen, she had formed her own band that played at rodeos in and around Mississippi. This same year, Hill left college to pursue a music career in Nashville, where she started out working low-paying jobs and soon married Dan Hill, a media executive. While working as a secretary at a music firm, Hill caught her big break when Gary Morris, head of the company, overheard her singing to herself. Morris promoted her to demo and background singer. Given this opportunity, Hill quickly proved her talents and landed a record deal as a solo artist. Her first album, Take Me As I Am, was released in 1993. The most popular of several acclaimed songs from Take Me As I Am, “Wild One,” remained number one on country charts for a month— making Hill the first female country artist to achieve this long-running success in three decades. The album sold more than 3 million copies. In 1995, the title track on her second album earned PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MISSISSIPPI SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE Hill her fourth number one song. Hill went on tour with Tim McGraw in 1996, and the two married that fall. After the birth of their first child, Gracie, in 1997, the couple recorded a duet, “It’s Your Love,” which reached number one, where it stayed for six weeks. Her first true pop-country crossover song “This Kiss” was a hit, reaching number one on the country charts for several weeks and number seven on the pop charts. The following year, Hill produced Faith, her top album to date, which sold more than 6 million copies. In 1999, her major hit album Breathe debuted at number one and sold more than 7 million copies. Her single of the same name was considered the biggest song of the year 2000. Hill continued to produce hits into the new millennium, and in 2000 again went on tour with her husband. Two years later, after taking time off to spend with her family, Hill produced Cry. The artist won Best Female Vocal Performance for the title song in 2003. In 2005, Hill paid homage to her Mississippi roots with the release of the song, “Mississippi Girl,” on her album Fireflies. Both song and album reached number one that year. Her 2006 tour with Tim McGraw is considered the highest-earning country tour in history. Today, Hill holds her position as one of the most prominent country singers of the 1990s and early 2000s, and continues to record and perform