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One of the world's most popular country singers, Tim McGraw is married to fellow country crooner Faith Hill.
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Though he was raised in Start, Louisiana, a tiny town in Richland Parish, McGraw spent a good deal of time on the road in the cab of Smith's 18-wheeler. In the truck, he would sing along to country artists like Charley Pride, Johnny Paycheck, and George Jones. "By the time I was six," McGraw related to Christopher John Farley in Time,
"I felt as if I knew the words to every album Merle Haggard ever recorded." He also sang spirituals in church, and belted show tunes in elementary school plays. Though he played Little League as a boy, McGraw had given up his dreams of becoming a pro ball player like his dad by the time he went to college. When he was a senior at Monroe Christian High School, he met up again with Tug McGraw, who agreed to pay for his higher education. McGraw graduated as salutatorian in 1985. Shortly after that he changed his surname to match that of his biological father, though he continues to consider his stepfather, Smith, as his true dad.
As a freshman at Northeast Louisiana State University, McGraw took pre-law courses after seeing the film And Justice for All, starring Al Pacino. But he ended up enjoying parties more than classes, and became more interested in music. He ended up buying a guitar at a pawn shop, and within a year, he was singing in clubs around Monroe, Louisiana. Soon, he decided to quit school and try his luck in Nashville. His father told him to finish school first, but McGraw reminded him that he had quit college for baseball. Besides, as McGraw noted to Dave McKenna in the Washington Post, "The only thing I learned in college was how to float a keg, and I didn't figure that was going to get me too far. So even though it was kind of scary, I wasn't giving up much. I thought I could make it." His dad continued to support him while he tried to rev up a career.
Landing in Music City in May 1989, McGraw had little experience in performing and no contacts. But the industry was ripe for smooth, handsome male vocalists, and he managed to line up gigs in Printers Alley clubs. Within a year and a half, he cinched a contract with Curb Records. His first self-titled album came out in April of 1993, but sank into oblivion. To drum up attention, the label sent McGraw on the road with his band, the Dance Hall Doctors, and his live act went over big. With power ballads and party hits like Steve Miller's "The Joker," he found his audience.
In February 1994, McGraw released the infectious single "Indian Outlaw," and it quickly raced up the country charts and became a radio hit. However, it also earned him unwanted status as a novelty act, and attracted a bitter backlash from many who found it offensive to Native Americans. The lyrics included lines like "I'm an Indian outlaw/Half-Cherokee, half-Choctaw/My baby she's a Chippewa," and lines like "You can find me in my wigwam/I'll be beatin' on my tom-tom." McGraw responded by stating that he had meant no harm, and that he had simply used the tribal names and other words for their rhyming qualities.
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