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Lee Ann Womack was born Aug. 19, 1966, in Jacksonville, Texas. Her father was a part-time disc jockey who frequently took her to the studio and let her pick out records for him to play. (Bob Wills, Ray Price and Glen Campbell were her favorites.) At home, she would lie between the stereo speakers and -- when the weather conditions were right -- absorb the music beaming in from the Grand Ole Opry. Instead of taking her senior trip with her class, she bargained with her parents for a visit to Nashville where she toured Music Row and watched TNN tapings.
Initially, Womack studied music at South Plains Junior College in Levelland, Texas, one of the first schools to offer a degree in bluegrass and country music. She quickly became a member of the school band, Country Caravan, and toured with it throughout the Southwest and Southern California. Subsequently, she enrolled in Belmont University's music business program in Nashville, which enabled her to intern in the A&R department at MCA Records. In 1990, she moved to Nashville permanently.
During her stay at Belmont, Womack married songwriter Jason Sellers (which ended in divorce a few years thumb|300px|right|Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dancelater), became a mother and stayed home for a couple of years. Then she showcased around town and sang demos for songwriters. She also concentrated more on her own songwriting and signed to Tree Publishing in 1995. A year later, she signed as an artist with Decca Records, the legendary label of Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, Webb Pierce and Loretta Lynn.
In 1997, her first single, "Never Again, Again," stunned radio programmers with its traditional country sound and only climbed to No. 22. However, with endorsements from Alan Jackson, George Strait and other torchbearers, Womack rose to the No. 2 spot four times with singles on Decca, including "The Fool," "You've Got to Talk to Me," "A Little Past Little Rock" and "I'll Think of a Reason Later." When the label shuttered, she moved to MCA Nashville.
Womack gave birth to a daughter, her second, and married her producer Frank Liddell in 1999. Both daughters thumb|300px|right|Lee Ann Womack - I May Hate Myself in The Morningappeared in her video for "I Hope You Dance," her biggest hit to date. The single spent five weeks at No. 1 and crossed over to the pop and adult contemporary charts. She picked up the CMA female vocalist award in 2001 and "I Hope You Dance" was named the CMA's song and single of the year. The corresponding album sold 3 million copies.
Her 2002 follow-up, Something Worth Leaving Behind led to poor sales, no major hits and a misguided attempt at a glossy, pop-flavored attitude, Womack's career stalled. She strayed even further from traditional country music with the Big Band-inspired Christmas album, A Season for Romance. Nevertheless, a hit collaboration with Willie Nelson, "Mendocino County Line," won a Grammy and a CMA award in 2002.
In 2005, she returned to traditional country music with There's More Where That Came From. The album won thumb|300px|right|Lee Ann Womack - Last CallCMA Awards for album of the year and single of the year ("I May Hate Myself in the Morning").
In 2008, Womack 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, has been described as a dark album with plenty of songs about drinking and losing love. It featured a duet with George Strait titled "Everything But Quits," a re-make of the George Strait classic, "The King of Broken Hearts," which first appeared on the Pure Country soundtrack. One thumb|300px|right|Lee Ann Womack - Solitary Thinkin'track, "The Bees," features vocals from Keith Urban.
In October 2009, Womack released "There Is a God", as the lead-off single to her upcoming seventh studio album which she has said she is unsure of the release date. The song debuted at #60 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for the week of November 14, 2009, eventually peaking at #32 in early 2010. Womack has revealed a few of the tracks that she has recorded for the album, including: "Talking Behind Your Back", as well as "You Do Until You Don't".
In October 2010, Womack contributed the new track "Liars Lie" to the soundtrack for the film Country Strong. Womack also contributed guest vocals to Alan Jackson's cover of the song "Ring of Fire", which was released in December 2010 as a single from his compilation album, 34 Number Ones. His version of the song was a minor hit, charting to number 45 on the Hot Country Songs charts. Though Womack is featured on the song, she was not given credit on the charts.
When Lee Ann Womack walked onstage to accept the 2005 Country Music Association Album of the Year Award for There’s More Where That Came From, she wasn’t striking a blow for modern country music. She’d already won Single of the Year for “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” and Vocal Event of the Year for “Good News, Bad News,” her duet with George Strait – and that night spoke pretty loudly about the things that the petite Texan with the pure voice valued: great songs, real life and classic country music.
“You don’t ever make records to win awards – or even to make big statements,” says the woman who’s won six – including Female Vocalist of the Year -- and been nominated for 20 CMA Awards. “You’re trying to catch a moment of someone’s life, and in my case, make the best kind of country music you can, because country music – to me – is real life.”
Not that Womack’s kind of country doesn’t blur formats and cross genres. Her ubiquitous 6 week #1 “I Hope You Dance” was heard on every kind of radio station except Urban, and her duet partners range from Willie Nelson to Harry Connick, Alan Jackson to the Blind Boys of Alabama, Buddy Miller to George Strait.
She has also cut songs from progressive roots writers Julie Miller, Jim Lauderdale and Bruce Robeson, as well as young writers like Natalie Hemby, Marla Cannon and Waylon Payne and legends Dean Dillon, Ronnie Bowman and Rodney Crowell – and written the seminal “Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago.” For the mother of two, it comes down to one thing: “Trying to be true to the music, the story and what I can sing>”
Womack comes by her mission honestly. Raised the child of a pair of teachers, her father was also a country music disc jockey who would take his small daughter to the radio station where he was on the air near Jacksonville, Texas. It was there that the Grammy-winner was exposed to the best classic country music: Nelson, Merle Haggard, Western swing, vintage Dolly Parton and Ray Price.
A stint at South Plains Jr College in Levelland, Texas – the first college that offered a country music degree – led to a stint at Belmont University’s Music Business program. But the Grammy Award-winner’s heart was always in making music, and it wasn’t long before she’d found an internship at MCA Records and a songwriting deal at legendary music publisher Sony/Tree.
With her firsat album yielding the breakout hit “The Fool,” as well as the pristine Wurlitizer jukebox feeling “Never Again,” Womack found herself established in a big way Winning the Academy of Country Music Top New Female Award and Billboard’s Top New Artist, she was on her way.
“A Little Past Little Rock” and “I’ll Think of a Reason Later,” from her sophomore Some Things I Know, continued her hit-making roll. With “I Hope You Dance,” which also won the Grammy and CMA Song of the Year Award, Womack found herself singing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert, “A Capital Fourth” in Washington, DC and on “Oprah” at the request of Dr. Maya Angelou.
“You can’t dream these things,” explains the woman who’s spent the last year as part of the George Strait/Reba McEntire tour. “You can only set your eye on making music you think matters, telling stories that feel right and trying to be the best you’re capable of being.”
That extends to giving back. Beyond stints home schooling her girls, Womack is active in a variety of causes. Most visibly is JoinMyVillage.com <http://JoinMyVillage.com> , deemed a click-to-commit-social change initiative benefiting the women and children of Malawi – and focusing on girls by bringing in women teachers, supporting edication, creating housing and helping the mothers’ start businesses and earn better livings.
“You want to give back, to make a difference,” Womack explains. “In this very crazy busy world, this is as easy a way as I have found. You go to the site, click on a link, watch a video that explains what the people in Malawi are trying to do – and money gets donated. It’s low impact, but it cumulatively makes a huge difference.”
Making a difference, whether in her music, people’s lives or the world beyond her, is a big part of who Lee Ann Womack is. Quietly setting her sites on various projects – including the studio with her husband Frank Liddell, a producer known for his work with Miranda Lambert, David Nail and Chris Knight, recording with a variety of artists and being active with www.JoinMyVillage -- the woman with the silvery voice is about making every moment count, every song matter and every memory be all that it can be.