Trisha Yearwood (b. 1964)
With numerous successful albums and many major awards under her belt, Trisha Yearwood is well established as one of country music's most popular and appealing female vocalists. Starting with her debut release in 1991, she has amassed an enormous following of listeners who are drawn to her "everywoman" songs of fortitude and vulnerability.
Patricia Lynn Yearwood was born in Monticello on September 19, 1964, to Gwen and Jack Yearwood. She grew up on a thirty-acre farm, absorbed the influence of Elvis Presley and other pop stars as a child, and sought out a broad range of popular music—from the traditional country artists in her parents' record collection to southern-based rock and roll.
After graduation from high school, where she performed in musicals and choral groups, Yearwood received a two-year business degree from Young Harris College and subsequently attended the University of Georgia in Athens for one quarter. In 1985 she transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in music business. That same year she married her first husband, Christopher Latham; the couple divorced in 1991. Yearwood began her career as an intern and as a receptionist at MTM Records and sang demo tapes, for which she was paid fifty dollars apiece.
Fellow country music performer Garth Brooks heard Yearwood and asked her to provide backup vocals on his 1990 release, No Fences. In 1991 she became his opening act—the same year she released her solo debut, Trisha Yearwood. Her first single, "She's in Love with the Boy," spent two weeks at the top of the country charts; it was the first of four hits from the album. The album sold two million copies and earned her the Academy of Country Music award for top new female vocalist.
From the beginning of her career, Yearwood combined the pop sensibility of one of her idols, Linda Ronstadt, with the more traditional sound of such country artists as Tammy Wynette. Her sensitive interpretive skills and strong, versatile voice have allowed her to blend pop, folk, and adult contemporary music and achieve tremendous crossover appeal.
Her recordings include Hearts in Armor (1992), The Song Remembers When (1993), The Sweetest Gift (1994), Thinkin' about You (1995), Everybody Knows (1996), and Songbook: A Collection of Hits (1997), featuring the break-out hit "How Do I Live," which earned her two Grammy awards. Her other albums include Where Your Road Leads (1998), Real Live Woman (2000)—whose title song became an anthem for many of her female listeners—and Inside Out (2001), for which she received three Grammy award nominations.
In 1994 she married Robert Reynolds, a bass player for the country music group the Mavericks, in a ceremony in Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. The couple filed for divorce in 2000.
Yearwood has also enjoyed a successful acting career, with a recurring role on the TV series JAG. She has appeared in other TV shows and movies, including Ellen; The Thing Called Love; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; and The Naked Truth.
She was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1999 and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2005 Yearwood released the album Jasper County, named for her home county in Georgia. That same year she married her longtime collaborator Garth Brooks; the couple lives in Oklahoma.