Hill has been honored by the Grammy Awards, the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association, the American Music Awards and the People’s Choice Awards. Her Soul2Soul II Tour 2006 with McGraw became the highest-grossing country tour of all time. In 2001, she was named one of the “30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies Home Journal. In 2008, Hill released her first Christmas album, titled Joy to the World. In 2009 Billboard named her as the #1 Adult Contemporary artist of the decade 2000-2009. Hill was ranked the 39th best artist of the 2000-10 decade by Billboard.
Early life and career startHill was born in Ridgeland, Mississippi, north of Jackson, Mississippi. She was adopted as an infant, and named Audrey Faith Perry. She was raised in the nearby town of Star, 25 miles outside of Jackson, Mississippi. Her adoptive parents raised their two biological sons along with Hill in a devout Christian environment.
Hill’s vocal talent was apparent early, and she had her first public performance, a 4-H luncheon, when she was seven. In 1976, a few days before her 9th birthday, she attended a concert by Elvis Presley at the State Fair Coliseum, in Jackson, which impressed her deeply. By the time she was a teenager, Hill was a regular performer at area churches, even those not in her own Baptist denomination. At 17, Hill formed a band that played in local rodeos. She briefly attended college at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi,where she served with a group called the Hinds Connection (a student recruiting and public relations group). At times, she sang for prisoners at the Hinds County Jail, her song of choice being “Amazing Grace.”. At age 19 she quit school to move to Nashville and pursue her dream of being a country singer. In her early days in Nashville, Hill auditioned to be a backup singer for Reba McEntire, but failed to secure the job. After a stint selling T-shirts, Hill became a secretary at a music publishing firm. She also worked at McDonald’s but it didn’t go well. “Fries, burgers, cash register – I did it all, I hated it,” she has said.
In 1988 she married music publishing executive Daniel Hill, who is not to be confused with Canadian musician Dan Hill.
Two years later, she began a search for her biological mother, whom she eventually met and with whom she corresponded until her mother’s death.
A co-worker heard Hill singing to herself one day, and soon the head of her music publishing company was encouraging her to become a demo singer for the firm. She supplemented this work by singing backup vocals for songwriter Gary Burr, who often performed his new songs at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe. During one of those performances, Bob Saporiti, an executive from Warner Bros. Records was in the audience, and, impressed with Hill’s voice, began the process of signing her to a recording contract.
Shortly after the release of her album, Hill found her marriage falling apart. She and Daniel Hill divorced in 1994.