They sang the songs that, to this day, are still stuck in our heads, for better ("Wide Open Spaces") or for worse ("Achy Breaky Heart"). In honor of Shania Twain's 52nd birthday on Aug. 28, 2017, Wonderwall.com is remembering the artists who shaped country music and catching up with them today! So let's start with the birthday girl — Shania! To say that the Canadian country singer limped out of the gate early on would be an understatement. It wasn't until her second album that she caught fire, but boy, did she start an inferno! After meeting and marrying rock album producer Robert "Mutt" Lange in 1993, Shania recorded "The Woman in Me," which went 12-times platinum! Her followup, "Come On Over," became the best selling album by a female artist ever and is still to this day the sixth best selling album in the United States. Now keep reading to see what Shania and more of your favorite country crooners of yesteryear are up to now…
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Shania Twain took a break from country music after the release of 2002's "Up!" During her recording hiatus, the mother of one split from her first husband, Robert "Mutt" Lange, after she discovered he was having an affair with her best friend, Marie-Anne Thiébaud. In a fascinating twist, the singer wed Marie-Anne's ex-husband, Frédéric Thiébaud, on Jan. 1, 2011. That same year she resurfaced professionally, releasing "Today Is Your Day" — her first new song in six years. She also had a two-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas until late 2014, and then hit the road in 2015 for her Rock This Country Tour. She's really been back in action in 2017, headlining the Stagecoach festival in April, the same month her latest single, "Life's About to Get Good," was released. Next up? Her fifth studio album, "Now," which will be released in September 2017, followed by a concert trek she's dubbed the Now Tour.
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Willie Nelson's career started all the way back in the '50s. After years of struggling to make it as an artist, Willie released his debut album, "…And Then I Wrote," in 1962. The rest, as they say, is history!
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Willie Nelson went on to release 69 studio albums — including his most recent, 2016's "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin" and 2017's "God's Problem Child." He's also written several books about his life and has appeared in countless film roles, occasionally playing versions of himself. The marijuana enthusiast is currently married to his fourth wife, Annie D'Angelo, with whom he shares two of his seven children. (His oldest son, Billy, committed suicide in 1991.)
In 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus exploded onto the country scene with the No. 1 album "Some Gave All," which featured the painfully memorable "Achy Breaky Heart." (The hit single even spawned its own line dance!) Billy Ray went on to release five albums in six years during the '90s, though he never recreated the success of his debut album. And with all due respect to his music, we still remember him most for his immaculate mullet.
He released his 13th studio album, "Change My Mind," in October 2012, but these days, Billy Ray Cyrus is more known for being Miley Cyrus' father than for his career as a musician. The father of six and his second wife, Tish Cyrus, have also made headlines in recent years for their off-and-on marriage. The singer has also had some luck as a television actor, most notably starring alongside his daughter on Disney's "Hannah Montana" from 2006 to 2011. He even competed on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2007. These days, he can be found playing Vernon Brownmule on the CMT comedy "Still the King."
Composed of lead singer Natalie Maines plus sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, the Dixie Chicks were once at the top of the charts and near and dear to country music fans' hearts. Until they weren't. Though the group netted a few Grammys, CMA Awards and ACM Awards, the Chicks courted controversy in 2003 when, 10 days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Natalie told a London audience, "We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." Thus, the group lost favor with many conservative country fans.
Since 2003, the Dixie Chicks have only released one studio album, 2006's "Taking the Long Way." But that hasn't stopped them from touring: Their DCX MMXVI World Tour launched in April 2016, wrapping up in the following year in April 2017. In July 2017, news broke that Natalie Maines was divorcing her second husband, actor Adrian Pasdar, with whom she shares two sons. She also released her debut solo album, "Mother," in May 2013. Martie Maguire and Emily Robison have released two studio albums as country-folk duo Court Yard Hounds. Emily has three children with her first husband, country singer Charlie Robison, and a daughter with her second husband, Martin Strayer, to whom she's currently married. Martie shares three daughters with her second husband, Gareth Maguire, from whom she split in 2013.
Randy Travis was rejected by nearly every record label early in his career. But he persevered and finally caught on in the mid-'80s. Randy strung together hit after hit and finally became a household name with his timeless love song "Forever and Ever, Amen," which is still played today.
Time has not been kind to Randy Travis. Sure, he's netted 16 No. 1 records over the course of his career and could fill a house with all the awards he's won, but in recent years, his music has taken a backseat to the drama in his personal life. In 2010, he parted from wife Elizabeth Hatcher-Travis after 19 years of marriage. In February 2012, he was arrested for public intoxication outside a North Texas church. In August 2012, he was charged with public intoxication, DWI and felony retaliation after he crashed his car into a construction zone, passed out naked (stinking of alcohol) on the side of the road and then threatened police officers. Later that month, he was cited with simple assault for another incident. In 2013, he went to rehab and then survived congestive heart failure and a heart procedure only to suffer a stroke in the hospital and undergo emergency brain surgery. In March 2015, he wed Mary Davis, who helped him take the stage, where he struggled to speak, during a rare public appearance at the 2016 Country Music Hall Of Fame Inductees Announcement.
Kenny Rogers was at the forefront of the country music world after he released the hit single "Lucille" in 1977.
In 2013, Kenny Rogers released his 27th studio album, "You Can't Make Old Friends." He's also an award-winning photographer and an entrepreneur. His Kenny Rogers' Roasters restaurants had a good run in the United States and were the basis of a hilarious "Seinfeld" episode. Though they eventually fizzled stateside, they're still successful overseas. In 1997, Kenny married his fifth wife, Wanda Miller, with whom he shares twin sons. The country crooner has three more kids from previous relationships. Kenny fans can currently catch the star on his "The Gambler's Last Deal" tour, which runs through October 2017, ending in Nashville.
Jo Dee Messina burst onto the country music scene with the catchy debut single "Heads Carolina, Tails California."
Jo Dee Messina has since released five studio albums, including 2014's "Me." But it hasn't been all good for the singer, who checked into rehab in 2004 after she broke off her engagement to her boyfriend of six years, road manager Don Muzquiz. But things turned around, and in 2007, Jo Dee wed Chris Deffenbaugh, with whom she now shares sons Noah and Jonah.
Travis Tritt was one of a handful of country artists who owned the '90s, thanks in part to his hit "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)." He brought a new wrinkle to the country airwaves with his rock 'n' roll sound, as well as his rock 'n' roll looks. (He opted for leather jackets over cowboy hats and boots.)
Sadly, Travis Tritt never recreated his early success, though he's released 10 studio albums over the years. In 2012, he launched his own record label, Post Oak Recording, and re-released his 2007 album "Storm" as "The Calm After…" In 1997, he married his third wife, Theresa Nelson, with whom he shares three children.
Deana Carter shot into the spotlight in 1996 when she innocently asked "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" on her debut album. She scored a major hit with her breakthrough single "Strawberry Wine" too.
Sadly, Deana Carter has yet to recreate her "Strawberry Wine" success, though she's released seven studio albums over the years, including 2013's "Southern Way of Life." She did, however, have a hand in Kenny Chesney's Grammy-nominated 2011 hit "You and Tequila," which she co-wrote. In late 2012, the beautiful blonde filed to divorce her husband, Brandon Malone, after less than three years of marriage. She also has a son, Gray, from a previous relationship.
Joe Nichols jumped from record label to record label before he finally scored his first hit with "The Impossible" in 2002.
Joe Nichols has since released nine studio albums, including 2013's "Crickets," which scored five No. 1 singles, and 2015's "Freaks Like Me." He also put out an album in 2017 on independent label Broken Bow Records entitled "Never Gets Old." But life hasn't always been a breeze for the country star, who checked into rehab for substance abuse issues in October 2007, just a month after he wed his girlfriend of 12 years, Heather Singleton. The duo suffered five miscarriages on their path to becoming parents but now share two daughters, Dylan and Georgia. Joe also has daughter Ashelyn from a previous relationship.
Gretchen Wilson, who grew up in trailer parks, clearly never saw the word "redneck" as disparaging: In 2004, she released her debut single, "Redneck Woman," which went straight to No. 1. The singer is considered the godmother of MuzikMafia, a group of country artists who informally played together starting back in the early aughts.
Gretchen Wilson released her fifth studio album, "Right on Time," in 2013 on her Redneck Records label, which she launched in 2009. She followed that up with another 2013 release, "Under the Covers," followed by 2017's "Ready To Get Rowdy." The country star, who dropped out of high school when she was just 15, made headlines in 2008 when she decided to take her GED to officially become a high school graduate. Gretchen has a daughter, Grace, with ex-boyfriend Mike Penner.