The Transformation Of Faith Hill From Childhood To 54

Audrey Faith McGraw, known professionally as Faith Hill, is wife to Tim McGraw, and they have three daughters: Gracie Katherine, Maggie Elizabeth, and Audrey Caroline. Hill is a musician who has expanded into other arenas of entertainment, but she was originally a small-town Mississippi girl who was hell-bent on following her heart.

Country fans have worshipped Faith Hill since the 1990s. Billboard credits her as one of the female singers who changed the face of this genre in the late '90s and early 2000s amid "a perfect storm" of factors, according to American media executive Leslie Fram. "Those women each had a different style, and together they made a complete picture of life in general," CMA Foundation Chairman Joe Galante shared. He continued, "Each of them took a different path: Shania [Twain] was the worldwide star, Faith [Hill] had pop hits, and Martina [McBride] was the country star." McGraw himself feels that his wife is "one of the greatest singers on earth," he shared on his Apple Music show, "Beyond the Influence Radio" (via SheKnows).

What set Hill apart and helped define her as one of country's greatest female artists of all time? In the whimsical lyrics of her 2005 track "Fireflies," she sings, "Before you met me I was a fairy princess/I caught frogs and called them prince and made myself a queen. ... I slept in castles and fell in love because I was taught to dream." Hill's incredible journey speaks of deliberate choices and persistence at all costs.

Faith Hill was adopted

Ted and Edna Perry adopted Faith Hill, who was born on September 21, 1967. They started the adoption process three days after she was born, per James Dickerson's biography, "Faith Hill: Piece of my Heart," and eventually picked her up in mid-October of that year. The "You're Still Here" singer's adoptive parents already had two sons, Steven and Wesley, and wanted a daughter to round out their family. Eight-year-old Wesley wanted to call her Audra, while Ted and Edna chose the name Faith to reflect their religious beliefs. And so, a combined moniker was decided upon, and Audrey Faith Perry was welcomed into her new family.

Hill knew that she was adopted. "I had been told that [my birth mother] had an affair with a married man, and he didn't want to leave his wife to marry her, so she gave me up for adoption," she recalled (via Good Housekeeping). Unfortunately, it seems as if her mom and dad fabricated the story to protect Hill's feelings. Evidently, her biological parents were unmarried but later wed and had a son. In an interview with Billboard (via E! News), Hill shared, "I used to think there was some kind of conspiracy, that I must be the daughter of one of my aunts." Elvis Presley appeared as Hill's father in her other dreams, she dished. With a voice like hers, it's no wonder she used to think she was the daughter of the King.

Faith Hill started performing at a young age

There's a reason Faith Hill can belt out a tune like a gospel choir on the banks of the River Jordan. She first started singing at her local Baptist church and told The Washington Post that she was only 3 or 4 when she "stood up on the pew and sang along." The singer revealed, "For me, the big influence wasn't Linda Ronstadt, it was Aretha Franklin." And like Aretha, Faith Hill's influence and style was schooled in church. Hill continued, "I used to tell my mom I was supposed to have been born black, because I felt most at home in those churches." She explained, "They showed their excitement like I wanted to show mine."

Hill's first real performance came at the tender age of seven. Per Press-Republican, she kickstarted her singing career at a mom-and-daughter luncheon for 4-H, and continued performing throughout her formative years. The Washington Post noted that she joined a gospel quartet, the Steele Family, in her teens. In his biography, "Faith Hill: Piece of My Heart," James Dickerson wrote that for school events, Hill sang, "Dixie," "Amazing Grace," and the national anthem. A school mate revealed, "She just said one day she wanted to become a singer and she did." Similarly, when Hill was in the ninth grade, she was asked about her career aspirations. A former youth volunteer recalled that Hill declared, "I'm going to be a country singer." And so she did.

The future country star grew up poor

In 1996, the "This Kiss" singer founded the Faith Hill Family Literacy project. She was moved to start the initiative in honor of her dad, Ted Perry, who was only a fourth-grader when he permanently dropped out of school to work at a Jackson, Mississippi manufacturing plant, helping provide for his 12 siblings (per Good Housekeeping). Hill's mom, Edna Perry, was a bank teller in the same town, per "Faith Hill: Piece of my Heart." Even after the family relocated to Star, Mississippi, to enjoy a quieter country life, Hill's parents continued commuting to their workplaces.

Illiteracy goes hand-in-hand with job prospects, but Ted could rely on his wife for support. Edna was more educated than Ted and did what she needed to do to support her family. Hill revealed to Variety, "She was really, really smart and worked three jobs... she was raising my two older brothers and me during a rough time." Nevertheless, Hill doesn't diminish her father's intelligence. In a Barbara Walters interview, she reminisced, "I don't think any of the children wanted to put my dad in a position of being embarrassed or make him feel bad, ever. I have a great dad."

The singer also explained a bit more of her family's financial situation to People: "Mom financially stretched a dollar into 10. My parents' combined salary when I left home at 18 was probably $25,000, raising three kids and paying bills. That's impressive." 

Faith Hill worked at McDonald's as a teen

Young Faith Hill wasn't averse to earning a little extra money growing up, so she got a job in her teenage years. A fan online asked Hill what her first job was, and the multi-award-winning singer answered honestly. She tweeted, "It was McDonalds actually...lasted for 2 weeks." Clearly, Hill learned that she didn't have a future in the fast food industry. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

Yet, decades later, things came full circle for Hill on the set of "Dixieland." In the 2015 drama, Hill played the role of Arletta, a woman whose son has been in prison. As she told The Hollywood Reporter, Faith Hill knew many of the locals on-set in Pearl, Mississippi, from her teenage years. She mentioned her McDonald's gig and revealed that "the car that we were using on set was owned by my first boss. I hadn't seen him in 25 or 30 years!" How's that for a coincidence! Of course, we'd still love to know why her tenure at Mickey D's was so short in the 1980s.

She quit college and moved to Nashville

In 2021, Tim McGraw shared how proud he was of Maggie May, his and Faith Hill's second daughter. Taking to Instagram, he wrote, "She graduated from her Masters program at Stanford University this weekend and what a celebration!!!" He continued, "I have such admiration for her work ethic, her fierce love of her family and especially her passion to make the world a better place." While mom Faith Hill also attended college, her parents supported her when she made an unconventional choice to forge her own path.

Jackie Granberry, who worked at Hinds Community College, recalled the day that Hill said she was quitting, per "Faith Hill: Piece of my Heart." "We did everything possible to talk her into coming back to school. You need an education. If [the singing] doesn't work out, you'll need to have a skill to fall back on." Likewise, her parents also tried to reason with her. Eventually, Ted Perry told her that he would help her if she truly wanted to move to Nashville. They loaded up a neighbor's truck before setting off for Music City in March 1987. Ted sat in a cardboard box on the back of a truck for eight hours to help his daughter pursue her dreams. 

After going door-to-door with her resume in hand, Hill eventually landed a receptionist job at Gary Morris' music publishing company, per People.

Faith Hill married Daniel Hill in 1988

A 20-year-old Faith Hill married music publishing executive Daniel Hill on July 23, 1988, per People. Biographer James Dickerson wrote in "Faith Hill: Piece of my Heart" that Daniel "was her first real friend in Nashville."  Faith was cash-strapped after her stint working as a sales assistant in Reba McEntire's booth ended. Daniel came to her rescue and asked her to marry him. However, their marriage was short-lived, and they divorced in 1994. She told People, "I was young, I just jumped in the fire way too soon."

In a 2007 interview with Good Housekeeping, Daniel recounted, "I can't begin to understand what it was like for Faith back then. There were monumental changes happening in her world at that time, personally and professionally." She was so frustrated with her life that she wanted to pursue a career in interior design at one time. Daniel revealed, "I always tried to steer her back toward music, where I knew her true talent was."

Daniel explained when their union began to unravel. "Meeting her birth mother had a profound impact on Faith, which led to a profound failure of our marriage," he said. Faith mused, "Marriage wasn't what I needed. It was a disguise" (via Good Housekeeping). She clarified, "That's not to say anything bad about the person I married. But what I needed was to deal with the issues of my own life." So, she learned to stand on her own.

How she met her biological mother

Faith Hill was adopted at birth and wanted to find her biological mother. When she was in college, per "Faith Hill: Piece of my Heart," she confided in one of her mentors about wanting to explore her roots. Her former boss Bill Buckner explained, "The people that took her in, she loved them and did not want to hurt them, but inside she had this yearning to know." However, it was her brother Wesley who helped her track down her birth mom by painstakingly going through a 1967 directory, searching for her social security number. Three years later, they struck gold. After reaching out to her, the birth mom and Hill met in a city park in Jackson, Mississippi. 

In an interview with People, the "Way You Love Me" singer said, "The first time I met my biological mother, I just stared at her." It was a revelation because, Hill explained, "I'd never seen anybody who looked anything like me." Hill has clarified that she's not angry at her biological mom, but respects the woman's decision as a loving choice, made with Hill's best interest at heart (via Good Housekeeping).

Hill also revealed to Billboard (via E! News) that she "kept the relationship at bay." Her husband, Tim McGraw, shared that they "were just getting to know one another better" in 2007, when Hill's birth mother died.

Faith Hill's first big break

Faith Hill struggled to find a permanent job in Nashville and had to deny that she wanted to be a singer so that she could get hired. She started working at Gary Morris Productions as a receptionist. Hill told an interviewer how songwriter David Chase changed her career trajectory when he heard her singing in the office. "He came up and he said, 'I knew that you had other aspirations besides going to college here and besides being a receptionist around the office.'" Chase then told her, "I want you to do a demo for me, and I want to see what you sound like." After Gary Morris heard her first demo, he encouraged her dreams. Hill studied singing, acting, and harmony to polish her craft, per "Faith Hill: Piece of my Heart."

In 2006, Hill told Larry King that she was a background vocalist when she got her big break. She elaborated, "Martha Sharp, an executive from Warner Bros. Records, happened to be in the audience that night and she came up to me afterwards and asked if I wanted to...make a record, if that's what I was striving to do, what my ambitions were." Sharp then wanted to know if Hill had a demo tape. Hill replied, "I don't have a tape but I can get you one really fast." Sharp listened to the demo and offered Hill a the chance of a lifetime in 1992, a recording contract.

The singer's music career blossomed

Larry King asked Faith Hill if she had a breakthrough album. Both Hill and her husband Tim McGraw were in the studio that day, and they had different answers to the question. She replied, "I think 'This Kiss,' the song 'This Kiss,' was definitely my breakthrough song. After that, 'Breathe' was my breakthrough album. It just changed my career basically." "This Kiss" was released in 1994, while "Breathe" made its debut a year later. McGraw chimed in, saying, "'Wild One' did, 'Wild One' too." Hill then conceded that her husband was correct, clarifying, "My first single did really, really well and that just, I guess, brought some attention to what I was doing."

The Washington Post reported that "Wild One" broke a long-standing record when it dropped in 1993. It was "the first debut single by a female singer to top the country charts for four consecutive weeks since Connie Smith's 'Once a Day,' in 1964." It would be a while before Hill actually began palming in awards for her music. Although she quickly rose to the top of the charts, she only snagged an American Country Music Award in 2000 for top female vocalist. Interestingly, Tim McGraw scooped the prize for top male vocalist the same year. Also curiously, MTV News reported that they were pitted against each other at the event, as both were nominated for entertainer of the year, song of the year, and album of the year.

Another proposal for Faith Hill

Faith Hill got engaged in 1995, but not to Tim McGraw... yet. In a March 1996 interview with The Washington Post, she spoke about her then-fiance and producer, Scott Hendricks. The singer underwent vocal surgery in February 1995 and wasn't allowed to speak for over two weeks. Hendricks decided it was the perfect time to propose, but Hill wasn't able to physically answer him. She recalled, "The very first day I could talk again, I called Scott and said, 'Yes.'" She continued, "It was the first word I had spoken in almost three weeks." 

In a Larry King interview, Hill and McGraw confirmed the chemistry they shared during the Spontaneous Combustion tour in 1996. She reminisced, "We fell in love on that tour and sang together night after night and it was just beautiful." About her relationship with Hendricks, Hill mused to People, "It obviously wasn't a rock-solid situation or it wouldn't have ended. ... Tim is not the reason I left. If someone is going to judge my character because I was engaged to somebody and then I left him for somebody else...I can't control that. But I wasn't about to let Tim slip through my hands." The singer put her happiness first and didn't listen to what other people thought. And she and McGraw had many decades of love ahead of them.

Faith Hill wed Tim McGraw in 1996

Tim McGraw told People that after he "planted a big old kiss on" Faith Hill in his dressing room during their Spontaneous Combustion tour, the situation escalated. In another People interview, McGraw recalled the moment when he realized they had something special. "A conversation we had in a Jeep in Pennsylvania is one of my favorite memories. It was a conversation about our future. That was the point where we realized we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives." Hill discerned that their goals were similar, with a stable family life being as much a priority as good careers. 

One day on Instagram, McGraw revealed how he proposed to Hill; he shared that he asked her on numerous occasions, but she didn't want to be married to a country star. They were on tour and staying in trailers when he said, "Look, let's get married." Hill responded, "You're asking me to marry you at a country music festival in a trailer house?"  After Hill ascertained that McGraw was serious, he had to go on stage. Upon finishing his show, the singer returned to his dressing room, and Hill was nowhere to be found. "But I looked at the mirror and in lipstick, it said, 'Yes, I'm gonna be your wife.' And we still have that mirror," McGraw sweetly said. The duo got married in a surprise ceremony on October 6, 1996, in Rayville, Louisiana (per Brides).

The Free singer is a strict mom

Right from the start, Faith Hill knew how she wanted to raise her children. She said in a 2006 People interview, "Tim and I are strict parents, but we've taught them to stay independent, even at a very young age. We want them to be able to think for themselves." It seems to have paid off, since all their daughters are now talented young adults.

Gracie Katherine McGraw has so much "wisdom," according to her mom on Instagram. She graduated from New York University, per ABC News, and is reportedly making her way in the entertainment industry. She featured on her dad's song "Here Tonight" in 2015 and blew him away — in a behind-the-scenes video, Tim McGraw gushed, "She was way better than me." Maggie "May" Elizabeth McGraw is often called Hill's twin. As her proud dad noted on IG, she completed her master's at Stanford in 2021. The girl can also sing and was once the lead of a band called Sister Supply. Audrey Caroline McGraw may be the baby of the family, but she's already impressing many with her dance moves while pursuing a career in filmmaking in New York City. Audrey starred in her dad's music video "7500 OBO."

As Hill told People in 1999, "...I really have a strong sense — a necessity almost — for stability. A foundation where my family is concerned." She added, "Family will be there after everything's gone and I'm too old or tired to do this anymore."

Faith Hill had neck surgery in 2015

Fans noticed a scar on Faith Hill's neck in early 2015, and People reported that the singer had an "anterior cervical discectomy and fusion" procedure in response to an old injury. The surgery traditionally helps ease the pain caused by a herniated disc. Hill followed up the procedure with physical therapy. Apparently, in 2011, she had a neck operation to deal with her medical issue. 

Of course, those weren't the only times Hill had surgery around the neck. In 1996, she told The Washington Post, "I was in the studio trying to sing, and I couldn't. I didn't have my usual pitch, range or strength. I'd say, 'Let me take a day off,' but that didn't work." So, she took her then-fiance's advice to go and see a doctor. Hill continued, "They found an enlarged blood vessel, and there was really only one decision to make — surgery." 

At the time, she was in the process of recording her second album, "It Matters to Me," which was necessarily delayed. Luckily, Hill had a team that "was very supportive and concerned" about her wellbeing. But in 2015, she had something more. Hill had the support and love of Tim McGraw and their kids as she navigated her health issues. 

She is a talented actor

Faith Hill has quite a few acting credits to her name. She appeared in "Touched by an Angel" as well as "The Stepford Wives" movie. However, her most notable role was as Arletta in "Dixieland." She told Deadline, "I read the entire script, and I thought it was incredible." Her experience as the complex Arletta came in handy when she landed the role of Margaret Dutton in "1883." 

In an interview with Big Machine Label Group (via CMT News), Tim McGraw divulged that the creator of the series, Taylor Sheridan, wanted McGraw to "play the original Dutton who founded the Yellowstone ranch. You're also going to have a wife," Sheridan told him. "Do you think Faith would be interested in playing your wife?" McGraw was nervous to pitch the project to Hill, but she signed on, and they had a blast on set together.

Hill shared that by the time they shot the final scene, she and her husband were both emotional wrecks. In an interview with Variety, she recalled, "He couldn't read it because he was bawling. It took me about an hour to read it to him because most of the time, I couldn't catch my breath I was crying so hard." The couple had a hard time discovering the fate of their TV daughter, Elsa (played by Isabel May). Hill confessed that the scripts gave way to "ugly, boohoo crying." But she recognized that the content was "so well-written, so devastating and heartbreaking," and Hill connected to her adoptive mother through her character, Margaret.

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are empty nesters

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw have ended one phase of their parenthood journey. Their daughters are now young adults and have left the nest. Audrey, their youngest, was the last to leave, following her 2020 graduation from high school. Gracie and Maggie are both actors in New York, McGraw shared on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." McGraw told People, "You're used to getting up in the morning, taking kids to school, going to softball practices and basketball practices and cheerleader practices, and all of a sudden, all that's gone when your last one leaves."

He lamented the fact that his house had changed since the departure of his daughters. McGraw specifically missed the smell of Hill's cooking in the afternoon because she "would always make sure something was cooking when they would come home from school." He said they remained close and in constant communication. But the star hit the nail on the head when he remarked, "But it's difficult when your kids leave. All of a sudden they don't need you as much anymore." McGraw thought Hill might be struggling with the adjustment even more. In fact, the mom told Stephen Colbert that being without her kids at home was "heartbreaking."

McGraw, meanwhile, told Clarkson that being empty-nesters had its perks. "It's also nice for mom and dad to have the house to themselves every now and then, too." As long as Tim and Faith have each other, all is right with the world.