Let’s play word association. If I say “stuffing”, you probably start thinking of Thanksgiving leftovers and not the scarecrow on “The Wizard of Oz”. If I say “hope”, maybe the future of the world comes to mind. And, if I say “faith”, many of you think of Christmas and religion. I, too, have hope and faith that there will be more peace and love on Earth, but since I don’t live in a fantasy world, I know it won’t replace hate.
When I hear “faith”, I think of the holidays and mankind, but also of Faith Hill.
I’ve been a huge fan since her first single, “Wild One”, was released in the fall of 1993. That song, and many others that have followed, shot to the top of the country music charts.
I was fortunate enough to meet her at the Hodag Country Festival in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1996.
While working at WJFW, we profiled all of the singers performing. But, I did a separate story and bonded with Faith over the challenges her father faced with literacy. Three years later, in 1999, Faith’s tour supported a national children’s book drive, The Faith Hill Family Literacy Project, which collected more than 35,000 books.
Before the interview, the only thing her people told us that was off-limits was any personal questions about her relationship with Tim McGraw. While it was no secret, the two grew very close on the “Spontaneous Combustion Tour” that spring. Both broke off previous engagements and by the fall of 1996, they were married. They’re still together and are the parents of three girls.
The couple will be opening a new show, “Soul2Soul”, this winter in Las Vegas at the Venetian.
After selling more than 40 million albums worldwide, scoring an amazing 37 country hits, with 22 of them reaching the Top Ten, and nine topping the country charts, we haven’t heard much of Faith until recently.
She performed “Come Home” at the “CMA Awards” in November 2011. The song was to be the first single from her upcoming album, but it didn’t catch fire. As much as I love Faith, I didn’t care for it and neither did country radio. It stalled at #26.
However, she is currently at #29 on the country airplay chart and at #39 on the Billboard Country chart with “American Heart” and I really hope radio embraces it. She sounds great and looks absolutely fantastic in the video.
Sadly, I think Faith will have a hard time selling her new music and the new album, expected in early 2013, to country radio because of the same thing that Reba, Dolly, Loretta, Martina McBride, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Trisha Yearwood, and so many other women face. Age.
While Faith is only 45 years old, the hottest stars at radio now are Taylor Swift (she turns 23 in December), Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert (both 29 years old), and Kelly Clarkson, who is 30.
And, those younger ladies are the hit makers. Taylor Swift has charted 28 country hits and 40 pop hits. Of her country hits, 14 have hit the Top Three and seven have hit #1. Miranda Lambert has scored 14 Top 40 country hits since 2004 with seven reaching the Top Ten, and 3 topping the charts. And, pop star Kelly Clarkson is finding a home on country radio since reaching #2 with Reba on “Because of You” in 2007 and #1 with Jason Aldean in 2011 with “Don’t You Wanna Stay”.
However, the hottest female on country radio is Carrie Underwood. Despite her “American Idol” song, “Inside Your Heaven” stalling at #52 in 2005, once she released her first real country song, “Jesus, Take The Wheel”, all 16 of her songs sent to country radio have peaked at #1 or #2! Of those sixteen country hits, 12 have topped the charts.
I really hate bringing up Faith, Reba, or even in the pop world, Madonna’s age, because I think it’s irrelevant. However, it’s a reality. Programmers had rather play young women on the radio. On the pop charts, the same thing happens, too. While her music is fun and catchy, it’s only taken Rihanna six short years to tie Madonna and the Supremes in fourth place with the most number one hits (12) on the Billboard Hot 100.
I’m going to have “faith” that the new Faith album will be hot in 2013 and you’ll hear her all over country radio where she was for much of the 1990s and the 2000s.
Faith’s first album, “Take Me As I Am” was released in October 1993.
The first two singles, “Wild One” and “Piece of My Heart ” both topped the country charts. The third single, “But I Will” was a misfire at radio only peaking at #35. The fourth and final single from that debut album, the title track, went all the way to #2.
The “Take Me As I Am” album is my second favorite of Faith’s six studio albums (not counting 2008’s Christmas album, “Joy To The World”), but it is a very close race. My favorite is the follow-up to that debut album, “It Matters To Me”. (This is my autographed CD cover from when I met Faith!)
That album came out in August 1995 and produced five Top Ten hits: “Let’s Go To Vegas” (#5), “It Matters To Me” (#1), “Someone Else’s Dream” (#3), “You Can’t Lose Me” (#6), and “I Can’t Do That Anymore” (#8).
Faith would have her next chart topper in the summer of 1997. “It’s Your Love”, a duet with husband Tim McGraw from his “Everywhere” album, reached the top of the chart in only five weeks and dominated all of country music for six weeks.
In the spring of 1998, Faith released her third album simply titled “Faith”. Unlike her first two albums that were straight up “country”, this album was aimed toward a crossover crowd.
The lead off single, “This Kiss”, not only topped the country charts, but it reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The country and pop success of that first single also helped “Faith” become her biggest selling album to date with U.S. certifications of more than 6 million albums shipped.
Faith would also have four other country hits from the album: “Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me”, another duet with McGraw (#3), “Let Me Let Go” (#1), “Love Ain’t Like That” (#12), and “The Secret of Life”.
But, Faith’s star was still blazing bright and would shine even greater in the fall of 1999 when her fourth album, “Breathe” came out.
The title track was the lead single and it hit #1 on the country charts and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up, “The Way You Love Me” would also top the country chart and it made it into the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100.
The video to “The Way You Love Me” was a pure sugary confection and it’s still one of my favorite Faith videos.
The album “Breathe” would ship more than 8 million copies and produce two more Top Ten country hits, a duet with McGraw, “Let’s Make Love” (#6) and “If My Heart Had Wings” (#3). That was followed by the “Pearl Harbor” soundtrack hit, “There You’ll Be”, which hit #11 on the country chart.
With more than 14 million albums shipped of her last two albums, Faith released another pop album, “Cry”, in 2002.
While the album debuted at #1 on both the pop and country charts and sold more than four million copies worldwide, radio was not very receptive.
“Cry”, the first single only reached #12 country and #33 pop. But, it did reach #1 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart. Two more singles would chart at country radio, but they would only reach #26 and #28. The song, “One”, would also reach the top ten on the AC chart.
Faith did win two Grammy awards for “Cry”, “Best Country Album” and “Best Female Country Vocal Performance”.
I loved the “Cry” album, but I’ll admit that eleven of the songs on the album are almost perfect, but the album drags a bit toward the end with filler material. Sadly, this was a precursor of things to come.
In August 2005, Faith veered back to country music with the release of “Fireflies”. It debuted at #1 on both the pop and country charts and would go on to sell 3.8 million copies worldwide.
The first single, “Mississippi Girl” would top the country chart and three more songs from the album would reach the Top Ten.
I feel almost bad for saying this, but this is by far the least enjoyable Faith Hill album. I loved the first three songs from the album and a few others, but most of them are sub-par for a woman of Faith’s caliber.
A greatest hits album would come in 2007 with two more modest hits that only reached #32 and #28 on the country charts. “Red Umbrella”, the second new release from “The Hits” album should have been a bigger smash at country radio.
Faith’s first Christmas album, “Joy To The World”, was released in the fall of 2008 and it is absolutely amazing. I love every song on the album and if I had to choose a song that was my least favorite, it would be “A Baby Changes Everything”. However, it would top the AC charts for three weeks. I highly recommend this one!
I would love to see Tim and Faith in Las Vegas when I’m there in January 2013 to see Lady Gaga, but it’s going to take a stroke of luck on eBay like when we won the Elton John tickets in October.
Check out “American Heart”, it’s Faith better than she’s been in years!