In just six years, Faith Hill has sold more than 11 million records, garnered eight No. 1 singles and ten No. 1 videos. This past year alone, she received countless nominations and statues from the Country Music Association, the Grammy Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, Blockbuster Awards and TNN Music City News Awards. She celebrated the enormous crossover success of her first platinum single, "This Kiss," which culminated with her appearance on the 1999 VH1 Divas Live, where she shared the same stage with Tina Turner, Cher and Whitney Houston. She was named the newest face for CoverGirl Cosmetics and graced the cover of numerous magazines as diverse as Country Weekly, People, TV Guide and Glamour. After completing a 50-city tourÛher first headline series of performancesÛshe found herself back in the studio with barely six weeks to finish Breathe, the follow-up to the now quadruple-platinum 1998 release, Faith.
"This past year has been a complete whirlwind," explains Hill. "I havenÌt had time to take a breath. But I was on a creative high, I already had a few songs that I had recorded, and if you can believe it, I felt that the time was right to make another record."
Breathe, a musically diverse and soulful recording produced by Hill and Faith producers Byron Gallimore and Dann Huff, is remarkably close to an autobiographical collection of 13 tracks. The album focuses on the things closest to her heart and her selection of tracks is sure to give listeners a personal look at what makes this remarkable talent tick. "The music that I make has to be right for me at the right time," says Hill. "It has to have meaning. When I sing a song, I am in that song÷and hopefully people hear and feel that. I canÌt draw that line of trust with my fans if I donÌt sing from my heart every time IÌm in front of a microphone."
From the title track, which mirrors HillÌs professional juggernaut, to the energetic "I Got My Baby" and powerful "If My Heart Had Wings," Hill sings with attitude, vision and purpose on Breathe. Her fourth recording takes the listener on a journey that ranges from the passionate ballad "LetÌs Make Love" (a duet with country superstar and husband Tim McGraw), to the uplifting spirit and sincere message of "There Will Come A Day." Hill even finds a place to pay tribute to her fans, with "Bringing Out The Elvis," and to Bruce Springsteen, with a stirring rendition of "If I Should Fall Behind."
"It was the first time I ever cried while in the studio," said Hill. "I couldnÌt have made this album and not recorded ÎIf I Should Fall Behind.Ì After seeing and meeting Bruce at one of his shows, that song took on a special meaning for me. The lyrical content is devastating and the message just hits you in your soul."
HillÌs desire to perform and record songs close to her heart set her on a path to explore new musical and emotional territories. This innate drive is what stands at the core of this chanteuseÌs success.
"I reached a certain place last year, a certain level of success, and now its time to go to another place," explains Hill. "In order to succeed you canÌt be afraid to fail. I consider Breathe a mixture of musical styles that reflects my love for country, pop, gospel and rhythm and blues. Yes, I decided to take some chances here musicallyÛas an artist that is who I am. IÌve always tried to achieve and to do better."
But Hill hasnÌt forgotten the bottom line. "ThereÌs got to be something for the fans to connect to in order for them to go out and spend their hard-earned money on a Faith Hill recording," says Hill. "IÌm constantly thinking about them. I hope they realize that and like the direction that I am going."
With her breakout success this past year, Hill has found herself in a unique position. Those country fans who have purchased her records for the past five years no longer find themselves alone. Hill has been introduced to the industryÌs proverbial mainstream. With a new contingency of fans who might not otherwise have known about her if not for the huge success of "This Kiss," her appearance on VH1Ìs Divas and her new nationwide print and television campaign as CoverGirl CosmeticsÌ newest face, Hill finds herself releasing a new recording for a new audience for the second time.
"I just need to stay true to who I am," Hill says confidently. "I could never just go out and make a pop record or, for that matter, a traditional country album. I can only do what seems natural for me, what is real to me. I just hope that in the end it works. I hope that I can create something, along with my producers and musicians, that will work across the board. As many people as I can reach with my music, I think thatÌs every musicianÌs goal."
And how has the 32-year-old Mississippi-born Hill learned to deal with motherhood, marriage and her newfound super-stardom? "The biggest issue for me now is how to take it all in," says Hill. "ItÌs a challenge. IÌm just learning how to take time for myself. Frankly, the thing that I want most out of life is normality. ItÌs difficult, but I try to find time for myself. ItÌs a daily struggle, certainly not a daily accomplishment."
But you can count on one thing. Whether or not Faith Hill finds time to "breathe," she will always stay true to those things that got her here: dedication, passion, focus and her commitment to keeping la vie en rose or life in the pinkÛFaithÌs favorite Edith Piaf expressionÛfor herself, her fans and those close to her.
"Everything is going great," says Hill. "Each day I try to get as much out life as I canÛto keep it real, sincere and very honest. Hopefully, people can get that from my music. And if IÌm lucky, one day there will be a little spot carved away somewhere that says I made a contribution."
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