Lee Ann Womack (born August 19, 1966, in Jacksonville, Texas, United
States) is an American country music singer and songwriter, who is best-known
for her old fashioned-styled country music songs that often discuss subjects
such as cheating and lost love. Her 2000 single, "I Hope You Dance" was a major
crossover music hit, reaching #1 on the BIllboard Country Chart and the Top 15
of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her signature song.
Although Lee Ann Womack emerged as a contemporary country artist in 1997 with the release of her first album, her material closely resembled that of Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, mixing Womack's music with an old fashioned style, as well as contemporary elements, making her different from her counterparts. However her 2000 release, I Hope You Dance was an entirely different sound, using Pop music elements instead of traditional country, helping to establish Lee Ann as a Pop crossover artist. It wasn't until the release of There's More Where That Came From in 2005 that Lee Ann returned to recording traditional country music again.
Presently, Lee Ann has released a total of six studio albums and two compilations. Four of her studio albums have received a Gold certification or higher by the RIAA, and she has sold over five million albums in the United States. Additionally, she has received five Academy of Country Music Awards, five Country Music Association Awards, and one Grammy Award.
Lee Ann was born and raised in Jacksonville, Texas, United States. At an early age, she was interested in country music. Her father, a disc jockey, often took his daughter to work with him to help choose records to play on the air. Lee Ann was the second of two daughters, Anne and Aubrey Womack. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father was also a high school principal. As a child, Lee Ann studied the piano and later graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1984. After graduating, Lee Ann attended South Plains Junior College in Levelland, Texas. The college was one of the first in the nation to offer country music degrees, and soon she became a member of the college band, Country Caravan. A year later, she left the college and after an agreement with her parents, Lee Ann enrolled at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she studied the commercial ways of the music business. In Nashville, she interned at the A&R department of MCA Records. She studied at the college until 1990, leaving the school a year before graduation.
Lee Ann spent a few years raising her children before reentering the music business in the mid 90s. In 1995 she began performing her music in songwriting demos and at showcase concerts. At one of these showcase concerts, she was spotted by Tree Publishings, who signed her after listening to one of original demo recordings. Lee Ann wrote songs with some popular Nashville songwriters, including Bill Anderson and Ricky Skaggs, who recorded her composition, "I Don't Remember Forgetting" for one of his albums. After divorcing her first husband around that time, Lee Ann decided to pursue a career as a country music artist. She auditioned for MCA chairman, Bruce Hinton, who praised her talents. Shortly afterward, she accepted a contract from MCA's sister record company, Decca Nashville in 1996.
Lee Ann released her self-titled debut album in May 1997, produced by Mark Wright. The album consisted of self-penned material as well as songs written by other artists, including Mark Chesnutt, Ricky Skaggs, and Sharon White. With the original release of the album, there was worry that the album wouldn't sell because some people wouldn't be able to differentiate between her and LeAnn Rimes, who was also a successful artist at that time. However, Lee Ann decided to keep her given name. The first single, "Never Again, Again" made the country charts and playlists by March 1997, which led to the release of the album's second single, "The Fool" shortly afterward. More successful than her first single, "The Fool" reached the Top 5 on the Billboard Country chart that year. That year she won major awards from the country music community; Top New Female Vocalist from the Academy of Country Music Awards, Top Artist of the Year from Billboard Magazine, and was nominated for the Horizon award by the Country Music Association. Decca Nashville decided to closed its doors in 1998, moving Lee Ann to MCA Nashville Records that year.
In 1998, Lee Ann released her second studio album, Some Things I Know, which was also produced by Mark Wright. The album's first two singles, "A Little Past Little Rock" and "I'll Think of a Reason Later" both went to #2 on the Billboard Country Chart. Two additional singles, "Now You See Me (Now You Don't)" and "Don't Tell Me" were released in 1999, and the album was certified Gold by the RIAA soon after.
That year, Lee Ann Womack also won Favorite New Country Artist from the American Music Awards. Lee Ann also contributed her vocals to the songs "If You're Ever Down in Dallas" and "The Man Who Made Mama Cry" in collaboration with her ex-husband and musician, Jason Sellers. The material was promoted through shows through October to November before the birth of Womack's second child in January 1999.
She released her third studio album in 2000 entitled, I Hope You Dance, which was met with major success. The title track (which was released as the lead single), reached #1 on the Billboard Country chart for five weeks and crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, becoming a major crossover Pop hit, reaching #14. It also peaked at the top spot on the adult contemporary chart. Both of Womack's daughters appeared in the song's video that year. Towards the end of 2000, "I Hope You Dance" won the Country Music Association's "Song of the Year" and "Single of the Year" awards. With the Pop success of "I Hope You Dance," Lee Ann drew the attention of the magazines People and Time, both of which praised the single, calling it "one of her best." The song later won awards in 2001 from the Grammy and Academy of Country music awards. The album of the same name has sold 3 million copies in the United States to date. The album's follow-up single, a cover of Rodney Crowell's "Ashes by Now" peaked at #4 on the Billboard Country Chart. The third single, "Why They Call it Falling" was also successful, reaching the country Top 15.
On December 11, 2000, Lee Ann performed "I Hope You Dance" at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert.
In 2002 Womack's fourth studio album, Something Worth Leaving Behind was released. The album made a stronger attempt at a pop-flavored style, however it did not react well, leading to poor record sales and only one major hit. Following its release, Womack's career stalled. Later that year, she released a Christmas album, The Season for Romance and also collaborated with Willie Nelson on his single, "Mendocino County Line," which won a Grammy and Country Music award in 2002. In early 2003, she got a small recurring role on the popular CBS drama, The District.
In 2004, Lee Ann performed "I Hope You Dance" at the Republican National Convention, in which George W. Bush was nominated for his second term as President of the United States. The other performers that night included Sara Evans and Larry Gatlin. She also collaborated with country band, Cross Canadian Ragweed on their minor hit, "Sick and Tired" in 2004. The song became a minor hit. Also that year, she also released her first Greatest Hits album, which included two new songs; "The Wrong Girl" (the only song from the album released as a single) and "Time for Me to Go."
In 2005, she released her fifth studio album aimed at traditional country music entitled, There's More Where That Came From. Many people in the music industry called the album, "a return to tradition," featuring songs about drinking and cheating with a ditinctive older country twang, mixing strings and steel guitar. The album won the Country Music Association's "Album of the Year" award in 2005. Lee Ann took inspiration from the records of the 60s and 70s, and according to allmusic.com, the album sounded like albums by Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, and Dolly Parton from the 70s. They also called it one of her best records. The lead single, "I May Hate Myself in the Morning" was a Top 10 hit in 2005, and also won "Single of the Year" by the CMA awards later that year. Two additional singles were released from the album in 2005 that became minor hits, "He Oughta Know That by Now" and "Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago."
Lee Ann can be heard on the track "If I Could Only Fly" from Joe Nichols' album Real Things. Lee Ann has also appeared on specials on the CMT network, including their, "100 Greatest Duets", which featured Lee Ann singing the duet with Kenny Rogers, "Every Time Two Fools Collide". The song had been originally recorded by Rogers and Dottie West in 1978 and was a No. 1 Country hit that year. Lee Ann took the place of West during that show, being West had died in a serious car accident in September of 1991. Womack's other honors includes being listed at #17 on CMT's 2002 special of their countdown of the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.
In 2006, Lee Ann announced plans of a sixth studio album off of Mercury Nashville Records. The lead single, "Finding My Way Back Home" was released in the late summer of that year and debuted at #46 on the Billboard Country Chart. The single later peaked at #37 and was re-scheduled into 2007, because Lee Ann found more songs that she wanted to record, however it was never released and Lee Ann left Mercury.
In 2008, Lee Ann announced plans for a new single for the first time in three years, once again on MCA Nashville. "Last Call" was released on June 30, 2008. It served as the lead-off single to Womack's seventh studio album, Call Me Crazy, which was released on October 21, 2008.
Call Me Crazy was issued as a vinyl LP at the time of its release, as well as CD
Call Me Crazy, produced by Tony Brown, is said to be a very dark album with plenty of songs about drinking and losing love. The new album will also feature a duet with George Strait titled "Everything But Quits." The set also features a re-make of the George Strait classic, "The King of Broken Hearts," which first appeared on the Pure Country soundtrack. One track on the set, "The Bees," features vocals from Keith Urban.
At Belmont University, Lee Ann met and married fellow musician singer-songwriter Jason Sellers in 1990. Together they have daughter Aubrie Lee Sellers, born 1991, before divorcing in 1996. In January 1999 daughter Anna Lise Liddell was born and in November 1999 Lee Ann married record producer Frank Liddell.
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