Faith Hill is a modern country music legend, but nothing about her career should be taken for granted. Hill, born Audrey Faith Perry, arrived in Nashville with plenty of public performances under her belt in and around her hometown of Ridgeland, Miss. Though popular in Mississippi, Hill struggled when she arrived in Nashville. If you can believe it, she was turned down as a backup singer for Reba McEntire. Hill struggled with odd jobs before becoming a secretary at a music publishing company. She married her first husband, music publishing executive Daniel Hill, in 1988. Things turned around — she began singing demos for the company she worked at and backup at the Bluebird Cafe, where she was scouted by Warner Bros. Records Inc. Her first album, Take Me as I Am, came out in 1993. Take Me As I Am was an instant success, but Hill’s second release, the It Matters To Me album, would be a turning point for Hill’s career and personal life.
Don’t Call It a Comeback
Unfortunately, Hill’s sophomore album was delayed by two years due to surgery from a ruptured blood vessel on Hill’s vocal cords. However, the passion for Hill’s robust voice and nuanced songs hadn’t cooled in that time. It Matters to Me fixed Hill’s star in the country music firmament, eventually getting certified 4× Multi-Platinum by RIAA for sales of four million copies. Hill enjoyed five Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts with “Let’s Go to Vegas” (No. 5), the title track, penned by Ed Hill and Mark D. Sanders, (No. 1), “Someone Else’s Dream” (No. 3), “You Can’t Lose Me” (No. 6), and “I Can’t Do That Anymore,” written by none other than Alan Jackson (No. 8).
If someone tells you they don’t like country music, you should hand them It Matters To Me. Its an exemplar of everything that makes this genre fantastic. Whether Hill is singing about the ties that bind in “You Can’t Lose Me” or the heartbreak of an unraveling relationship in “It Matters To Me,” Hill’s sincerity and her knack for choosing songs with careful songcrafting is unparalleled. Even the deep tracks on this album deserve several listens.
Read More: The 12 Best Faith Hill Songs, Ranked
Above all, this album is feminist. Not the “girl power” commercialism of the Spice Girls, but a compassionate and pointed account of women’s struggles and triumphs. The album’s opener, “Someone Else’s Dream,” written by Trey Bruce and Craig Wiseman, tells the story of a woman reaching her thirties and realizing she hasn’t discovered her true self. The song illustrates how women are expected to conform to specific roles — daddy’s little girl, mamma’s little angel, pageant queen, teacher’s pet — and how damaging doing so can be.
Meanwhile, “A Man’s Home Is His Castle,” penned by Ariel Caten, details the double standards survivors often face in abusive relationships. Using an all-too-common power dynamic in heterosexual relationships, the song illustrates how much power men hold in a society that expects women to uphold male comfort over theirs. In this song, the narrator juggles a waitressing job with keeping a home up to the exacting standards of an abusive partner. The narrator knows she needs to leave but also needs to save funds until she is financially independent.
However, we also see Hill have fun. Karen Staley’s “Lets Go to Vegas” is a fun glimpse at a whirlwind romance. “You Will Be Mine,” written by Rob Honey, is a wistful story of a woman in love. Hill gives the song a swagger that suggests her feelings aren’t entirely pure. It Matters To Me concludes with the triumphant “Keep Walkin’ On.” Joined by Shelby Lynne, the duo give Tricia Walker and Karen Staley’s gospel a transcendent finish. In spite of the highs and lows of life that Hill delivers in the album, she leaves us with an encouraging note.
Call It a Combustion
In support of It Matters To Me, Hill began the Spontaneous Combustion tour with fellow red-hot country star Tim McGraw in the spring of 1996. Hill had just gotten engaged to her former producer, Scott Hendricks. As McGraw and Hill got to know each other on tour, they found their relationship became personal as well as professional. The couple married in October of that year shortly before Hill gave birth to their first child. Hill and McGraw’s partnership has become country music mythology.
Hill took a three-year break from recording after It Matters To Me, to rejuvenate herself and to begin her and McGraw’s family. The hiatus didn’t slow Hill’s juggernaut: she and McGraw recorded the duet “It’s Your Love,” which stayed at No. 1 for six weeks and won awards from the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association. Hill returned with 1998’s Faith and quickly followed it up with 1999’s Breathe, giving her the jump from country superstar to pop music sensation. Her talent is so widely recognized that she has been invited to perform at Aretha Franklin’s funeral, with whom she collaborated in 2011.
‘It Matters To Me’ Track Listing:
1. “Someone Else’s Dream”
2. “Let’s Go to Vegas”
3. “It Matters To Me”
4. “Bed of Roses”
5. “A Man’s Home Is His Castle”
6. “You Can’t Lose Me”
7. “I Can’t Do That Anymore”
8. “A Room In My Heart”
9. “You Will Be Mine”
10. “Keep Walkin’ On” (w. Shelby Lynne)