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About Trisha Yearwood
Patricia Lynn Yearwood, professionally known as Trisha Yearwood (born September 19, 1964), is an American country music artist. She is best known for her ballads about vulnerable young women from a female perspective that have been described by some music critics as "strong" and "confident."
Trisha Yearwood signed with MCA Records in 1990. She came to prominence with her debut single, "She's in Love with the Boy" which became a #1 hit on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in 1991. Her second album release, Hearts in Armor (1992) reflected Yearwood's own personal issues, which won her widespread critical acclaim among music critics and further success in country music. Her later album releases such as The Song Remembers When (1993), Thinkin' About You (1995) and Everybody Knows (1996) also demonstrated her creative control, featuring collaborations from Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks.
Yearwood also found major success in country radio during much of the 1990s, including with the 1997 song "How Do I Live." Initially released on the soundtrack of the film, Con Air, the song was also issued on her "greatest hits" compilation entitled (Songbook) A Collection of Hits (1997) and would eventually win Best Female Country Vocal Performance from the Grammy Awards. In addition she would also win accolades from the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Awards in 1997 and 1998. Aside from her success in country music, she has also donated her time as a philanthropist, working with Habitat for Humanity and the Make a Wish Foundation. In addition she also set aside a project to release her first cookbook in April 2008 titled Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen, which consisted of southern cooking recipes from Yearwood, her mother and sister.
Yearwood was born in Monticello, Georgia, United States to Gwen Yearwood, a schoolteacher and Jack Yearwood, a local banker. As a child, she grew accustomed to listening to country artists Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells and Hank Williams. In elementary school, Yearwood sang in musicals, choir groups and talent shows. In high school, Yearwood and her sister Beth were A students, and Yearwood took a strong interest in becoming an accountant. After graduating, she enrolled at Young Harris College where she received her associates degree . She then attended The University of Georgia, however grew unhappy with the school's large campus, and transferred in 1985 to Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. At Belmont, Yearwood majored in the school's music business program, and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in business administration in 1987.
While in school at Belmont, Yearwood gained an internship with MTM Records, and was eventually hired as a full time employee following her graduation. With the help of the record label's resources, she recorded a series of demo tapes and also sang background vocals for new artists. One of the new artists Yearwood recorded with was Garth Brooks in 1989. The pair developed a friendship and Brooks promised to help Yearwood sign a recording contract, if his career succeeded. Brooks brought her to his producer, Allen Reynolds, who then brought her to Garth Fundis. Fundis and Yearwood soon began working together, and together they created a demo tape. In 1990, she sang background vocals on Brooks' second album, No Fences, and performed live at a label showcase. MCA record producer, Tony Brown was impressed by her vocal ability at the concert, and helped her sign a recording contract with MCA Nashville Records shortly afterwards. Following her signing with the label, she served as a the opening act on Brooks' 1991 nationwide tour.
1991: Debut album
Under MCA Nashville, Yearwood released her self-titled debut album in 1991. Its lead single titled "She's in Love with the Boy" peaked at #1 on the Billboard Country Chart in late 1991, bringing her national success. With "She's in Love with the Boy," Yearwood became the first female country artist in almost 20 years to reach #1 on the country charts with a debut single. The previous record had been held by Marie Osmond in 1973 with her single, "Paper Roses." Three other singles from her debut album also reached the Top 10 on the country chart — "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart" (co-written by Garth Brooks), "The Woman Before Me," and "That's What I Like About You." Her album eventually sold a million copies and was certified "Platinum" (and later on, "2× Multi-Platinum"), with Yearwood therefore also becoming the first female artist to sell a million copies of her first album. Allmusic reviewed the album and called the effort, "a very classy debut that stands the test of time," giving it four and a half out of five stars. It also received another positive review from Entertainment Weekly, who said that Yearwood's voice, "demonstrates technical and emotional authority at every turn." With success, Yearwood performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as The Late Show with David Letterman. She was also the subject of the book, Get Hot or Go Home, a full length biography of Yearwood's life and career written by Lisa Gubernick.
Her debut album's popularity helped Yearwood win a series of major industry awards. In 1991, she was named "Top New Female Vocalist" by the Academy of Country Music Awards, and was also voted by the American Music Awards in 1992, "Favorite New Country Artist."
1992—1996: Career diversification
In 1992, Yearwood released her second studio album, Hearts in Armor, which was critically acclaimed. With her second album, Yearwood chose songs that came from her own emotional conflicts following her divorce from her first husband, Chris Latham. The album was a departure from her previous album, as it contained almost all ballads and some collaborations with other music artists, including Don Henley, Emmylou Harris and Raul Malo of the country music band, The Mavericks. Harris is featured singing background vocals on a song she previously recorded, "Woman Walk the Line." Music critics gave the album praise and some of the highest reviews of her career. Allmusic called Hearts in Armor "stunning" and "one of the best heartbreak records country music delivered in the '80s and '90s." About.com gave it five stars, and called Hearts in Armor, "possibly Trisha’s best album ever." The album would spawn four singles. The first two reached the Top 10 — "Wrong Side of Memphis", which peaked at #5 and "Walkaway Joe" (a collaboration with Don Henley), which peaked at #2 —and the third and fourth singles ("You Say You Will" and "Down on My Knees") peaked within the Top 20, reaching #12 and #19 respectively. Like her previous effort, it certified "Platinum".
Yearwood released her third album in 1993 entitled, The Song Remembers When, with the title track reaching #2 on the Billboard Country Chart that year. The Song Remembers When contained a variety of different musical themes, including the Folk-styled "Hard Promises to Keep," Rock-inspired "If I Ain't Got You," and the Pop-themed "Lying to the Moon." The album was recorded in the same format as Hearts in Armor, with a more contemporary-styled music style. Like her second album, it included collaborations with artists Rodney Crowell and Willie Nelson. The album was later accompanied by a cable television concert special in 1993, where the title track's music video is derived from. Yearwood followed the studio album with her first Holiday compilation in 1994 titled, The Sweetest Gift, which included cover versions of Christmas standards, such as "Away in a Manger," "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!," and "The Christmas Song."
In February 1995, Yearwood issued her fourth studio album, Thinkin' About You, which was aimed more towards Adult Contemporary and Country pop music. The album was given a positive review by Rolling Stone Magazine, who compared Thinkin' About You to many of Linda Ronstadt's albums in the 1970s. The disc included a version of Melissa Etheridge's "You Can Sleep While I Drive" and Tammy Wynette's "Till I Get it Right." The album found widespread popularity, with its first two singles becoming Yearwood's first #1 singles since 1991: "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" and the title track. Its third single, "I Wanna Go too Far" would reach the Top 10 after its release at the end of 1995. Like its predecessors, Thinkin' About You eventually sold one million copies in the United States and certified "Platinum." At the 1995 Grammy awards, Yearwood's duet with R&B artist, Aaron Neville titled, "I Fall to Pieces" (a cover of the 1961 song by Patsy Cline) won in the category of Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. The award became Yearwood's first accolade from the Grammys.
In August 1996, she released her fifth studio album, Everybody Knows, which also was aimed in a country pop direction. The album mainly consisted of ballads and each song also contained larger melodies. The album was given mixed reviews. Allmusic gave the album three out of five stars, calling the songs "a little uneven." However, Entertainment Weekly praised the album, calling the title track an "emotional release of a pounding piano." Everybody Knows spawned the single, "Believe Me Baby (I Lied)," which became Yearwood's fourth #1 single on the Billboard Country Chart. The title track was released as the second single in 1996 and peaked within the Top 5 that year. In addition, Yearwood performed in the closing ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were held in Atlanta, Georgia.
1997—2001: Late '90s success
Yearwood released her first "greatest hits" compilation in August 1997 titled, (Songbook) A Collection of Hits. The album overviews her Top 10 singles between 1991 and 1996, including "She's in Love with the Boy," "Walkaway Joe," and "Thinkin' About You." Unlike her previous album, Songbook was praised by most music critics, including Allmusic who called it, "a near-definitive collection." The compilation became Yearwood's first album to peak at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, and also reach the Top 10 on the Billboard 200, reaching #4. The album included three new tracks that were eventually released as singles. The first single released was the Diane Warren-penned, "How Do I Live," which was included on the soundtrack of the film, Con Air, and was also nominated for Best Song at the Academy Awards. "How Do I Live" was originally recorded by teenage country music artist LeAnn Rimes for the film. Yearwood's manager at the time criticized Rimes's version as "too pop", and Rimes's version received little country airplay (only peaking at #43) and was not included in the film's soundtrack. Rimes's version became a major hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #2, while Yearwood's version peaked at #2 on the Hot Country Songs, and nearly made the Top 20 on Hot 100 as well, peaking at #23. Two of the other singles spawned from the album also became major hits on the Billboard Country Chart. The second single, "In Another's Eyes" (a duet with Garth Brooks) peaked at #2 on the country chart, and the third single, "Perfect Love" reached #1 in early 1998. In 1997 and 1998, she also won a series of accolades from the Grammy Awards, and also won "Female Vocalist of the Year" from the Country Music Association Awards and the Academy of Country Music. The album would become Yearwood's biggest selling album, selling four million copies in the United States, eventually certifying "4× Multi-Platinum."
In 1998 she released her first studio album in two years entitled, Where Your Road Leads. It was Yearwood's first album to be produced by Tony Brown, as her five previous albums were produced by Garth Fundis. The singles, "There Goes My Baby," "Powerful Thing," and "I'll Still Love You More" became Top 10 hits on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart between 1998 and 1999. The title track, a duet with Brooks reached the Top 20. The album also gained positive reviews. About.com reviewed the album, giving it four stars, calling it, "one of her best albums." It was also reviewed by Allmusic, which also gave the release four out of five stars. In the summer of 1998, she performed with singer, Luciano Pavarotti to benefit Liberian children. In 1999, she was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry by Porter Wagoner, performing a cover Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams (Of You)" the night of her induction. She is still a member.
Following a second divorce in 1999, Yearwood released her seventh studio album in March 2000 entitled, Real Live Woman. Like her second album, it contained her emotional conflicts following the separation, and therefore it gained critical praise. The album contained twelve tracks, and included covers of Bruce Springsteen's "Sad Eyes" and Linda Ronstadt's "Try Me Again." It was given high critical acclaim from Allmusic, quoting Real Live Woman as a "measured, deliberate record in the best possible sense." The album sold 500,000 copies in the United States and only spawned two singles.
In 2001, she released her next studio album, Inside Out. It was produced by Mark Wright and unlike her past albums, Inside Out contained love themes. The album included collaborations from Don Henley on the title track, Rosanne Cash and Vince Gill. Allmusic called the release, "bound to inspire fans and fellow artists alike," calling Yearwood's voice "timeless." Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars calling, "Love Alone" and "Melancholy Blue" the best songs on the record. The album spawned the single, "I Would've Loved You Anyway," which reached #4 on the Billboard Country Chart. Its two additional singles, the title track and "I Don't Paint Myself in Corners" only became minor hit singles between 2001 and 2002.
2005—2006: Return to music
In September 2005, Yearwood released her first album of new recordings in four years titled, Jasper County. Between 2002 and 2004, Yearwood took creative time out to record music as well as wed to Garth Brooks. Jasper County was produced by Garth Fundis and was named after the county Yearwood was raised in as a child. The album consisted of mainly upbeat Soul-styled songs, including "Sweet Love," and "Who Invented the Wheel." The album received many positive reviews by music critics, including Allmusic writer, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who called Jasper Country, "an album that stretches further musically than most of her albums while being more cohesive than most of her records as well." It received five stars from about.com, who also gave the album a positive review, praising the songs, "Georgia Rain," "Who Invented the Wheel," and "Standing Out in a Crowd." The album became her third album to peak at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart, while it also peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling 117,000 copies within its first week. Its first week sales eclipsed those of Paul McCartney's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, which was also released within that same week. The first single released was the song, "Georgia Rain," which was about Yearwood's upbringing in Georgia, and peaked at #15 on the Billboard Country Chart, becoming her first major hit since 2002. The second single, "Trying to Love You" was released to radio October 31, however the single only reached #52. Within a month of the album's release, Jasper County certified "Gold" from the Recording Industry Association of America, becoming Yearwood's eleventh Gold certification of her career.
In October 2005, Yearwood participated in the "Broadway Goes Country" concert, a show that featured country artists performing songs from Broadway Musicals and Broadway performers singing country songs. During the concert, Yearwood performed the song, "For Good" from the musical, Wicked, along with original Wicked star, Idina Menzel. Other country artists that performed that night included Billy Currington, Jamie O'Neal and Carrie Underwood.
2007—present: Move to Big Machine records
In May 2007, Yearwood announced her departure from MCA Nashville Records, and signing with the independent label, Big Machine Records. Yearwood and Big Machine CEO, Scott Borchetta met when she originally worked for MTM Records in the late 1980s, and then worked together when Borchetta worked at MCA during the 1990s. Yearwood left the label after over sixteen years with them, and selling over ten million records. Following her separation, MCA released a Greatest Hits compilation in September, which included all of her Top 10 singles up until 2001.
After signing with Big Machine, Yearwood announced plans for the recording of her tenth studio album, which was originally planned for release in 2008. In November 2007, Yearwood released her tenth studio album titled, Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love. The album peaked at #10 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart while also reaching #30 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album was given some of the highest reviews of her musical career, gaining even more praise then her 1992 effort, Hearts in Armor. Allmusic gave the album four and a half out five stars, and called it their "album pick." Reviewer, Thom Jurek praised the album highly, stating, "It's better than good, it's beyond expectation -- and it was high after Jasper County -- it's the best example of what a popular record -- not just a country one -- should aspire to be, period." Slant Magazine also reviewed the album, also giving it four and a half stars, calling it, "a testament to the vitality, intelligence, and soulfulness of modern country's best music." The title track was released as the first single July 16, 2007. where it debuted at #49 shortly afterward and peaked at #19 on Hot Country Songs chart at the end of the year. The second single, "This Is Me You're Talking To" was released to radio in January 2008, and was given high critical acclaim, including from The 9513, who called the song, "one of the best singles of the year." It eventually reached a peak of #25 in June 2008. In early 2009 Yearwood joined Chris Isaak on his show, The Chris Isaak Hour, to promote a song they recorded on his latest album, Mr. Lucky called "Breaking Apart."
Yearwood has found major influences in a variety of musical artists. She grew accustomed to influence from Southern Rock bands, which include The Allman Brothers, Eagles, as well as Country rock artists such as Emmylou Harris, Elvis Presley and James Taylor. Yearwood stated that her primary musical influence is Linda Ronstadt, whom Yearwood had often been identified and compared with in her albums. Yearwood says, "She had a power and an emotion in her voice that made you believe every word she sang. My favorite song was probably "Love Has No Pride," but I listened to everything over and over. I knew the albums so well I knew which song it was from the first note." She had recorded some of Ronstadt's compositions, including, "Try Me Again" for her 2000 album, Real Live Woman. Yearwood said that she has never considered herself as a songwriter, but is precise about choosing songs that she can relate to. She stated, ""I always select music based on emotion, how it makes me feel, even before I made records. "My producer, Garth Fundis, and I have to catch ourselves if we begin to think about recording a song we don't believe in just because we think it might be a hit." She also stated that even though she does not record any of her own material, she has written music that still has yet to be recorded.
In 2001, in conjunction with the movie, The Tangerine Bear, Yearwood joined with the Children's Foundation and donated a mobile electronic fun center to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. In November 2008, Yearwood recorded a version of "My Favorite Things" for the Sears "Heroes at Home" program. The song was available for download via the Sears website. Yearwood has been an active member of the charity homebuilding group, Habitat for Humanity. Yearwood first joined along with husband, Garth Brooks in 2006 and partook in the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief by building flood walls in New Orleans and protective structures in Mississippi. Between May 2 to May 10, 2009, Yearwood participated in "National Women Build Week" near her home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The project saw two hundred crews of women learn to build houses in Atlanta, Georgia and Oklahoma. For the project Yearwood learned to construct and build simple and affordable houses for Habitat for Humanity construction sites nationwide. On Mother's Day, Yearwood, her sister, mother and niece joined the project as well.
In April 2008, Yearwood released her first cookbook co-written with her mother, Gwen and sister, Beth entitled, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. The cookbook consists of southern recipes from Yearwood, her mother and sister. The cookbook includes other recipes passed down from her family and liner notes describing each recipe. It includes recipes for such food as fried chicken, ribs, meatloaf and cheesecake. Brooks wrote the book's foreword and has stated how he was always fond of her cooking style. Overall, 120 recipes were compiled from the family to create the cookbook, according to Yearwood. Yearwood stated that she planned to publish another cookbook, which would be expected near Mother's Day of 2010.
On April 6, 2010, Yearwood, again with her mother and sister, released a second cookbook entitled Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood. The book consists of recipes passed down through her mother, aunts, cousins and longtime friends. Yearwood stated that she dedicated many of the cookbook's recipes to relatives, such as husband Garth Brooks, who also provided the foreword for the book. Yearwood's cookbook was the cover article for the April 2010 issue of Redbook Magazine, where she explained that many of the recipes featured in the cookbook were "some of the best memories of her childhood." Later that year, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine included Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood on their list of the "The Five Worst Cookbooks of 2010", noting its recipes are "loaded with fat and cholesterol" and specifically citing one called "Garth’s Breakfast Bowl" which "includes eight large eggs, a pound each of bacon and sausage, cheese tortellini, cheddar cheese, tater tots, and butter."
Film and television
In 1997, Yearwood began playing a recurring role on the CBS military drama, JAG, where she played Lieutenant Commander Teresa Coulter, a Navy coroner and forensic specialist, who develops feelings for one of the main characters. She remained on the show sporadically until 2002. In addition, Yearwood also guest-starred in the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman in 1994 as a choir director. Yearwood has also stated she is interested in performing in a Broadway musical, but not "anytime soon."
Trisha's Southern Kitchen is set to premiere on Food Network on April 14, 2012. The show was shot in Nashville and will feature Trisha cooking family recipes and sharing healthy tips to enjoy lighter versions of the traditionally heavier Southern cuisine.
Yearwood has been married three times. She married her first husband, musician Chris Latham, in 1987. They divorced in 1991. On May 21, 1994 she married Robert "Bobby" Reynolds, a bass player for the country music group The Mavericks. She divorced a second time in 1999. Yearwood and her current husband Garth Brooks had remained close friends over the years, even when they became nationally known in the 1990s. In 2000, after Brooks filed for divorce from estranged wife Sandy Mahl, they began dating. This led Yearwood to take a four-year hiatus from music. On May 25, 2005, Brooks proposed marriage in front of 7000 fans in Bakersfield, CA and Yearwood accepted without hesitation. On December 10, 2005, they were married in a private ceremony at the couple's home in Owasso, Oklahoma. Brooks has three daughters from his first marriage — Taylor, August and Allie.
In late August 2008, the plane Yearwood was aboard from Boston, Massachusetts to Oklahoma, made an emergency landing after one of its windows cracked and nearly broke open at 30,000 feet. The pilots safely landed in Baltimore, Maryland, before the window cracked even more.
Trisha Yearwood's mother, Gwen Yearwood, died on October 1, 2011 from cancer. She was 73.