Faith Hill: How “This Kiss” Has Changed My Life (1999)

In her latest single, Faith Hill sings that the secret of life is a good cup of coffee. But her own life is a little less relaxed.

"I'm working harder now than I did at the beginning of my career," Faith says. "I'm on my first headlining tour, I'm in the studio working on another record, I'm continuing to work on my literacy campaign, and now I'm a spokesperson for Cover Girl cosmetics. 

"I've been very busy -- along with being a mother and a wife."

Faith's hard work paid off at the recent ACMs -- she walked away with five awards. The afterglow remains bright.  

"It was unbelievable," says Faith of her wins. "It was almost surreal. The whole evening was a bit overwhelming -- it was a busy night."

But after the last award was presented, Faith went from superstar to mom. "When we went back to the hotel, Maggie and Gracie woke up," she says. "Then we were back to reality! We had to work really hard for another hour and a half to get those two girls back down to sleep. 

"You kind of put the award down and go, 'Okay, that's over with. Now it's time to really work!' " she says, laughing. "It brings you back down to earth quickly."

Faith's been on the rise ever since her 1993 debut "Wild One," shot to No. 1. She quickly followed up with a series of chart-toppers including "Piece of My Heart," "It Matters to Me," and the award-winning duet with husband Tim McGraw, "It's Your Love."

But last spring when she released her third album, Faith, her star got even brighter -- thanks to the album's first single, "This Kiss."

"Lord, that song is still going strong," she says. "It changed my life. It's amazing that a song can do that. It's the true power of music. It was one of those rare songs that come along in a career."

"This Kiss" not only captured the hearts of country fans -- it became a Top 5 pop hit, too. "It has established legs of its own," Faith says. "It's a huge record -- even in South Africa. I mean, imagine that! That's very cool."

As the song reached a bigger audience, so did Faith.

"The first real impact that I felt from 'This Kiss' was last fall after it had crossed over to pop," Faith recalls. "It was also in a movie, Practical Magic, which I think made a big difference as well.

"I started noticing a big difference in my audiences. There were a lot of college students and young career women at my shows. It was a different audience."

Like fellow country crossovers Shania Twain and LeAnn Rimes, Faith welcomes her new fans. 

"I believe the more people that can hear my music, the better. I'm certainly not going to sit here and say, 'I don't want anybody except country music fans to hear my work.' People who didn't know me before now pay attention to my music."

One person who paid attention was pop/R&B singer, Brandy.

"Brandy was one of the 'divas' on VH1's Divas Live show," Faith says. "The four divas got to invite other guests to come on the show -- and Brandy invited me. We had just done a photo shoot together for Cover Girl a couple of weeks before she invited me.

"Brandy and I sang a song together. And they wanted me to do 'This Kiss' as well."

Surrounded by some of music's legendary women -- including Tina Turner, Cher and Whitney Houston -- Faith had a hard time wiping the smile off her face.

"I was 'in the moment'," she explains, "and I was going to absorb as much of it as I possibly could. I was very proud to be in the company I was in."

Faith's also proud of her first headlining tour.

"I've always been the opening act and used other people's equipment," she says. "But this time, everything is mine. The stage, the backdrops, the way the lights run, the sound -- everything. 

"There's even a grand piano onstage. It's everything I wanted. I pay for it every night and it's mine," she says, laughing.

Faith may be in charge of her tour, but she's also asking her fans for a little help.

"Being in so many cities with this tour, I felt there had to be a way to incorporate the literacy program I started a few years ago. 

"So we joined forces with General Colin Powell. He has an organization called 'America's Promise.' A book drive is part of the tour. We've asked the fans to bring books to the show. The next day they'll be donated to local schools, hospitals and libraries. That's been very successful."

When she planned the tour, Faith closely examined her five years of performing.

"The band and I have been together since the very beginning," she says. "We've been on some great tours. We've ended some tours saying, 'What were we thinking? Why did we do that?' 

"And then we've ended other tours going, 'You know, that felt really cool. It was a really good tour.' This year, there's a lot of energy coming from the stage. We have special moments throughout the show.

"We do an acoustic segment of songs that inspired me growing up," says Faith, who often includes a song from one of her favorite influences -- Aretha Franklin.

"Aretha is soul," Faith says. "She's incredible. Her songs are very saucy. I've listened to Aretha for years. She's one artist that I listen to for inspiration before a performance. She's just amazing -- full of attitude."

Faith says her own attitude has improved through years of touring. "I've grown by leaps and bounds in many ways. The biggest growth that I've experienced as a performer has been my confidence," says Faith. 

"After doing it for so long, I'm starting to get a better grip of what works and what doesn't. But there's plenty of room for me to grow -- even still.

"We spend a great deal of time trying to find the right songs to include. The way we did the show a month ago is not where we are right now. I've taken out some songs, added others -- turned things around a little bit."

Since she became Tim's wife in 1996 -- and mother of two daughters -- Faith's life has turned around.

"My life continues to change because of our children," she says. "Our oldest, Gracie, is 2. Anyone out there who has a toddler knows that there's lots of things that Tim and I have never faced before. 

"We've got this new human being in our house who's trying to discover who she is. Gracie is like a little recorder. Her brain is just taking in so much right now. She repeats everything. She talks all the time. 

"The funny thing right now is that she'll drop something or stub her toe, and she'll say, 'Oh, my goodness!' She says everything with such drama.

"Then we have Maggie, who's 9 months old. She's starting to travel around pretty well. She's crawling and she's pulling up. She's about to start walking.

"Maggie follows her sister around. No one can make Maggie laugh harder than Gracie. It's the sweetest thing to see.

"And Gracie loves Maggie so much. When Maggie cries, Gracie is right there to give her a big hug and kiss, to make sure she's OK."

And Tim is right by Faith's side. "We work really well together," says Faith. "For us, it's worked out great. Tim and I have a life outside of our celebrity. That's not the only thing that we live for. It's very easy for us to 'shed that coat' and be normal people. 

"We're different when we're onstage and we have jobs to do. But then when it comes time to be normal people, we have no problem doing that because that's what we are."

In their "normal" life, Tim and Faith do one thing. "We stay home," she says, smiling. "That's the most enjoyable thing that we could possibly do right now. "Tim and I both enjoy cooking. That's really relaxing for us."

Relaxing is at a minimum these days for Faith, though. She's currently in the studio working on a new album -- to be released early next year.

"It's too early to say much about it," she says, "but this next album will probably go in some of the same direction as Faith."

And then there's her burgeoning career as a model for Cover Girl cosmetics.

"It was just one of those things that fell from the sky," she says of the TV and magazine campaign that will start this fall. "One day I got a phone call and the next day I'm in New York and I'm signed to Cover Girl. It was a shock."

Faith had never modeled before, but she was a pro when the cameras rolled. 

"I guess I could compare it to shooting a photo session for an album or a video," she says. "But it's different because I'm actually trying to sell something.

"The one thing about Cover Girl that's really cool is that they're into being as natural as you can be. I think what attracted them to me was that I'm a working mom, I have a career, and I try to look nice, stay in shape and be healthy.

"All those things are important. It's not really a glamour thing. It's beauty from the inside out."

As "The Secret of Life" heads toward the top, Faith shares another secret for a happy life.

"My secret is my family," she says. "Tim and I are both living a dream. Not only with our family, but also with our careers right now. Everything is so strong and going really well. We just wake up every day and we're thankful.

"It's a lot of work -- and it's very difficult. It keeps us away from home. Life on the road is not an easy way to go. Basically, you live out of a suitcase. 

"But we try to do the best that we can and make it comfortable for the children. It's the price we pay to do what we do for a living -- but the best part of being on tour is the two hours I'm onstage.

"The last few months have been a whirlwind," Faith adds. "So many things have changed for me. But there are still tons of things I want to do. I want to continue making records. I want to do more shows. 

"I also want to grow a garden. I want to learn another language. Simple things like that. And I would love to do a film at some point.

"But that's down the road, because with my schedule right now I haven't a second in my day to even think about that!"

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