Twenty years ago, Faith Hill released her fourth studio album, "Breathe," which became the first No. 1 album of her career and launched her into the realms of country music superstardom throughout the 2000s. In honor of the album's two-decade anniversary on Nov. 9, 2019, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at all the biggest country music stars of the early 2000s to find out what they're up to today. Keep reading for more…
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Following "Breathe," Faith Hill would release four more studio albums, including her 2017 duet album "The Rest of Our Life" with her husband, country music star Tim McGraw, as well as three compilation albums. Faith's earned significant recognition for her work since 2000, including six American Music Awards, five Grammys and two more Academy of Country Music Awards. In 2001, Faith and Tim welcomed their youngest daughter, Audrey (big sister Gracie was born in 1997; Maggie came along in 1998). Just three years later in 2004, Faith made her film debut in the comedic drama "The Stepford Wives" but wouldn't return to the big screen until the 2015 crime drama "Dixieland." Since 2017, Faith's worked behind the scenes as a producer for Kellie Pickler's daytime talk show, "Pickler & Ben." That same year, she and Tim appeared in a documentary about their lives, "Tim & Faith: Soul2Soul." As of 2019, we also get to see Faith in a new role — as a judge on the talent competition series "The World's Best." In October 2019 , Faith and Tim celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary and gave us all couples goals with their sweet message exchange on Instagram.
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The early 2000s were momentous for Tim McGraw. Not only did he win both the Academy of Country Music Award and the Country Music Association Award for top male vocalist, but he also won the Billboard Music Award for male artist of the year. Following the release of his highly successful sixth studio album, "Set This Circus Down," in 2001, Tim also won his first Grammy — not for his own song but for "Let's Make Love," a duet he performed with his wife, Faith Hill, on her 1999 album "Breathe."
Like his equally famous wife, Tim McGraw has spent the last 19 years growing his empire. In addition to releasing nine more studio albums and 11 compilation albums since 2001, Tim's also stacked a rather impressive awards shelf, winning two additional Grammys, six new American Music Awards and two Country Music Association Awards — just to name a few. In 2004, Tim made a surprising transition, launching an acting career with a role in the drama "Black Cloud." More films followed, including "Friday Night Lights," "Flicka," "Four Christmases," "The Blind Side" and "The Shack." Along with having a new album slated for release in 2020, Tim's also set to star in the upcoming musical comedy "Procuring Cause."
Although singer Lee Ann Womack had been in the country music scene for several years, it was her No. 1 2000 album "I Hope You Dance" (and its titular single) that thrust her into the spotlight, making her one of the biggest stars in the genre early in the decade. Both the album and song earned Lee Ann Grammy nominations, as well as three ACM Awards and one CMA Award, proving her a musical force to be reckoned with.
Lee Ann Womack hasn't yet recaptured the same level of success that came with "I Hope You Dance," although she's come close. In 2002, she released her fourth studio album, "Something Worth Leaving Behind," which shot to No. 2 on the country chart. The following year, she won her first and only Grammy for her duet with Willie Nelson, "Mendocino County Line," which was featured on his album "The Great Divide." Other awards followed, including four CMA trophies and one ACM prize. Lee Ann went on to release five more studio albums and one EP including the 2002 Christmas compilation "The Season For Romance" and 2017's "The Loney, the Lonesome & the Gone." Unlike some of her peers, Lee Ann didn't seem to develop the acting bug, only making two appearances on screen (on a 2003 episode of "The District" and in the 2008 movie "Noble Things"). Lee Ann, who's continued to tour, has been married since 1999 to record producer Frank Liddell. She's a mom to two kids including country music singer Aubrie Sellers with her first husband, country singer Jason Sellers.
The early 2000s were when Toby Keith re-emerged as a chart-topping country music star. His sixth studio album, "Pull My Chain," shot straight to No. 1 in 2001 and was followed by his even more successful seventh and eighth albums, "Unleashed" in 2002 and "Shock'n Y'all" in 2003. Toby earned multiple new awards including one CMA trophy, five ACM prizes and thee American Music Awards, giving him a renewed fan base ready to follow his boots into the new millennium.
Toby Keith's been one busy cowboy since the release of "Shock'n Y'all" in 2003. He's released 11 more studio albums including "Honkytonk University," "Big Dog Daddy," "That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy," "American Ride," "Bullets in the Gun" and "Clancy's Tavern," all which peaked at No. 1 on the country chart. In 2006, Toby made his big-screen debut in the music drama "Broken Bridges" alongside Burt Reynolds. In 2008, Toby was back in theaters with the crime comedy "Beer For My Horses," which was made from a screenplay the singer wrote, produced and starred in based on his 2003 platinum-selling single of the same name. In 2019, Toby — who's been married to Tricia Lucus since 1984 — kicked off his "That's Country Bro!" tour and released his sixth compilation album, "Greatest Hits: The Show Dog Years." Toby shares three children with Tricia, one of whom is following in her daddy's footsteps: country singer Krystal Keith.
It wasn't until Sara Evans released her third studio album, "Born to Fly," in 2000 that she became a platinum-selling country music star. The album would bring Sara her first Country Music Association Award as well as numerous nominations, prompting her to release two even more popular albums: 2003's "Restless" and 2005's "Real Fine Place," the latter of which was her first to peak at No. 1 on the country chart.
At the height of Sara Evans' career, she took a pivotal step back to focus on her family following her 2006 split from her husband of 13 years, Craig Schelske. At the time, Sara was a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" and made the difficult decision to exit the show early so she could be present for her three children. In 2007, Sara released two compilations but wouldn't release a new studio album until 2011 with "Stronger," which peaked at No. 6 on the pop chart and at No. 1 on the country chart. Since then, five more albums and two EPs followed, including 2017's "Words" and 2019's "Live from City Winery Nashville." Although Sara made her acting debut on two episodes of the miniseries "The Appomattox" in 2015, we've yet to see her return to the small or big screens. Sara, who's continued to tour, has been married to former professional football quarterback Jay Barker since 2008.
In 2000, Brad Paisley was still a relative newcomer to the world of country music. His first album, 1999's "Who Needs Pictures," only managed to reach No. 13 on the country chart but garnered him a Grammy nod for best new artist as well as an Academy of Country Music Award nomination for top male vocalist of the year. In 2001, his acclaim grew with the release of his sophomore album, "Part II," which peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's top country albums chart. He followed it up in 2003 with his first No. 1 album, "Mud on the Tires." That year, Brad also married the love of his life, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
Since his wildly successful year in 2003, Brad Paisley graduated from the ranks of new recording artists to become one of the genre's most popular stars. Nine studio albums and three compilations later — eight of which peaked at No. 1 on the country chart — and Brad can easily be considered a country music superstar. Over the years, he's been recognized in the industry with three Grammys, 13 ACM Awards and 11 CMA Awards, all while continuing to perform to sold-out venues across the world. In 2015, Brad served as a mentor on the singing competition series "The Voice." In 2017, he performed on the musical comedy special "Brad Paisley's Comedy Radio." The singer also landed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nationwide Insurance that's seen him starring in a series of hilarious commercials with former football star Peyton Manning. 2019 looks to be busy for this husband and father of two: Brad's released two singles, "Bucked Off" and "My Miracle," off a forthcoming album, filmed the variety special "Brad Paisley Thinks He's Special" and completed another world tour. In March 2019, Brad and his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, celebrated their 16-year wedding anniversary.
Martina McBride made her country music debut in 1992, but in 1999, her fame was renewed with the release of her sixth studio album, "Emotion," which shot to No. 3 on the country chart. With her single "I Love You" from the "Runaway Bride" soundtrack, Martina was able to cross over into the world of adult contemporary music, landing in the top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. By 2003, had Martina wrapped up her "Greatest Hits" tour and released her seventh studio album, "Martina," which peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. country chart and at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and garnered her two Country Music Association Awards.
Martina McBride has shown no signs of slowing down since the early aughts. She's released seven more studio albums, including 2005's platinum-selling "Timeless" and, more recently, 2018's Christmas track compilation "It's the Holiday Season." Martina also released a live album in 2008 and an impressive six greatest hits albums. Through it all, she's managed to headline five solo tours and an annual "Joy of Christmas" tour plus she co-headlined two more concert treks with country music stars Alan Jackson and Trace Adkins. In 2012, Martina took a seat at the judges' table for one season of the reality singing competition series "Opening Act." Two years later in 2014, we got to see a new side of Martina when she invited fans into her kitchen with her first cookbook, "Around the Table: Recipes and Inspiration for Gatherings Throughout the Year," which she followed with the 2018 cookbook "Martina's Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life." Those opened up a new door: Martina became a Food Network star with her own cooking series that debuted in 2018, "Martina's Table." As of November 2019, this wife and mom of three is back on the road performing on her 10th "Joy of Christmas" tour.
In 2001, Blake Shelton burst onto the country music scene with his eponymous debut album, which shot to No. 3 on the Billboard country chart before going platinum. His sophomore album, "Dreamer," followed in 2003 and reached No. 2 on the country chart and No. 8 on the Billboard 200. Within just two years, Blake went from being a relative unknown to one of country's hottest new stars. He also became a married man in 2003 when he walked down the aisle with his high school sweetheart, Kaynette Williams.
Blake Shelton's life and career have undergone somes serious changes since the early aughts. After releasing his third studio album, "Blake Shelton's Barn & Grill," in 2004, the singer's marriage to first wife Kaynette Williams went south — she alleged he was guilty of "inappropriate marital conduct," which many believe was a reference to his relationship with a rising young country star he performed a duet with in 2005, Miranda Lambert. By 2006, Kaynette and Blake were divorced and his romance with Miranda was in full swing. Blake returned to the studio, releasing two more albums between 2007 and 2008, but it wasn't until his 2011 album "Red River Blue" that Blake would see find his greatest critical acclaim. The album — which peaked at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and the country chart — earned Blake some of his first awards in the industry, including two CMA Awards, two ACM Awards and an American Music Award. Blake and Miranda tied the knot that same year, which was followed by the news that Blake was joining the panel of coaches on a new reality singing competition show, "The Voice." Multiple awards and three more albums followed, including 2014's "Bringing Back the Sunshine." In 2015, Blake abruptly divorced Miranda and within months had fallen for his "The Voice" co-star Gwen Stefani, who'd also just endured a painful split. Since then, Blake's released two more albums including 2017's "Texoma Shore" and recorded popular duets with Gwen. In 2019, Blake embarked on his "Friends and Heroes Tour" while continuing his work on "The Voice." He has a greatest hits album slated for release on Dec. 13, 2019.
If one song defined country music in 2004, it was Gretchen Wilson's debut single "Redneck Woman." The platinum-selling song shot to No. 1 on the country chart and ushered in Gretchen's wildly successful first album, "Here For the Party," which earned her a Grammy in 2005 as well as a Country Music Association Award and two Academy of Country Music Awards.
After the success of "Redneck Woman," Gretchen Wilson returned to the studio and released her sophomore album, 2005's "All Jacked Up," which shot to No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and country charts. After earning a Grammy nomination and her first Country Music Association Award for female vocalist of the year, seven more albums followed, including 2007's "One of the Boys," which hit No. 1 on the country chart, and 2013's holiday compilation "Christmas in My Heart," although none of her later efforts would achieve the same worldwide success as her first two. Parting ways with Columbia Records in 2009, Gretchen took her career into her own hands with the launch of her own label, Redneck Records. While producing her own music and that of other emerging artists, Gretchen found her way back in the headlines, but not for her music. The single mother of one was arrested in 2018 for "breach of peace" at a Connecticut airport for allegedly becoming belligerent during a flight. The charges were eventually dropped and Gretchen called the arrest "unfortunate" and reports of her bad behavior on the flight "untrue." Since 2018, Gretchen's released one song, "Stacey," but hasn't revealed whether or not a new album is in the works. The mom of one was reportedly as the decade wound down.
Kenny Chesney's country music acclaim began in the 1990s but was reignited in 2002 with the release of his platinum-selling sixth studio album, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," which peaked at No. 1 on both the U.S. country chart and the Billboard 200. Kenny's single "The Good Stuff" from the album was later named Billboard's No. 1 country song of the year; it remained at the top of the charts for six consecutive weeks. Kenny received two CMT Awards for his "The Good Stuff" music video and an ACM Award for top male vocalist of the year.
Since Kenny Chesney's monumental success with "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" in 2002, he's released 12 more studio albums and four greatest hits albums, with all but two reaching No. 1. Of all 16 albums, only his seventh studio endeavor, 2004's "When the Sun Goes Down" — which featured songs like "There Goes My Life" and "I Go Back" — rivaled his earlier success, earning him a Grammy nomination, two CMA Awards and one American Music Award the same year. In 2005, amidst touring and releasing two new albums the same year, Kenny surprised the world when he married actress Renee Zellweger, though Renee filed for an annulment just four months later. Because she'd claimed "fraud" as the reason for their split, speculation about Kenny's sexuality caused both of them to speak up, with Renee asking fans to stop spreading hurtful, untrue rumors and Kenny ultimately admitting he simply wasn't ready for marriage. Kenny's toured almost nonstop since then. He released the single "Tip of My Tongue" in 2019, which likely means et another new album is on the horizon. Kenny plans to hit the road in 2020 for his "Chillaxification Tour" in 2020. Although Kenny's been discreet about his love life, he's been linked to beauty Mary Nolan since 2012.
From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, the Grammy-winning bluegrass musical act the Dixie Chicks — Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison — were bona fide country music superstars. With three No. 1 albums, including their 2002 six-times platinum masterpiece "Home," seven Grammys, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, four American Music Awards and 10 Country Music Awards, the Texas-based group was on top of the world. Then in 2003 they fell off that pedestal when Natalie made an anti-war statement during a London performance just nine days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying, "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." Overnight, The Dixie Chicks went from country music darlings to being blacklisted across America.
The overwhelming anger directed at the Dixie Chicks following Natalie Maines' anti-war comments made it difficult for them to get played on the radio for a time. The backlash impacted them in other ways as well. Tour and record sales declined and before long, the Dixie Chicks went from being one of the most popular bands in the world to pariahs of country music. The women were even booed at the 2003 Grammy Awards, where they took home three trophies (including one for best country album). It would take three years before they released their next album, "Taking the Long Way," which — although not as successful as their previous ventures — did go two-times platinum and sit at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and the country charts and garner four new Grammy Awards (including for record of the year). The trio went on hiatus in 2008 but reunited in 2010 and again in 2013 to tour. While there's been no new music since 2006, the ladies did release two greatest hits albums and one live album. In 2018, the trio signed to Monotone/LBI Entertainment and began touring once again. In 2019, they appeared on the song "Soon You'll Get Better" from Taylor Swift's "Lover" album and announced that their long-awaited eighth studio album, "Gaslighter," will come out in 2020. As for their personal lives? All three members have ended marriages since their early success: Natalie split from her husband of 17 years, "Heroes" actor Adrian Pasdar, in 2017. Martie Maguire divorced her second husband in 2013. Emily Robison divorced country singer Charlie Robison in 2008 and wed Martin Strayer in 2013.
Since the late '80s, Alan Jackson's name has been synonymous with country music. Throughout the '90s and into the early 2000s, Alan continued releasing chart-topping music, including his No. 1 platinum-selling 2000 album "When Somebody Loves You," followed by 2002's "Drive" and 2004's "What I Do." His successes in the studio yielded numerous accolades, including his first Grammy win, seven new Academy of Country Music Awards and nine new Country Music Association Awards all before 2004.
Becoming a country music icon is no easy feat. Since the early aughts, Alan Jackson's kept a jam-packed schedule that's seen him release seven studio albums, two gospel albums, nine greatest hits albums and one live album, all while embarking on more tours than we can count. From his 2008 chart-topping album "Good Time" to his 2015 No. 1 country album "Angels and Alcohol," Alan's managed to remain relevant in an industry that is constantly changing. In 2011, he took home his second Grammy for best country collaboration (for the song "As She's Walking Away" with Zac Brown Band). In 2019, Alan celebrated 30 years as a major recording star. While he hasn't released a new album since 2015, in 2017, he put out a non-album track, "The Older I Get," and starred in the 2018 documentary about his life, "Alan Jackson: Small Town Southern Man." The neo-traditional country star continues to perform around the country, with two shows already slated for 2020. Alan's been married since 1979 to author Denise Jackson. The couple share three daughters.