Beginning in 1997 with her self-titled debut album, Lee Ann Womack established herself as a welcomed throw-back to some of country’s greatest traditional leading ladies, including Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn. The daughter of a part-time disc jockey in Texas, Womack’s love of country music began at an early age, and it ran deep so deep that when her high school’s senior class went on its class trip, she convinced her parents to let her visit Nashville to see the music industry first-hand. After great initial success as a recording artist was followed by a lull in her career, Womack roared back in the mid-2000s with two stellar award-winning albums.
Origins and Early Successes
Womack was born on August 19, 1966 in the east Texas town of Jacksonville. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a principal and a part-time country disc jockey who would bring his young daughter to the studio and let her pick out records to play. Womack graduated high school in 1984 and enrolled at South Plains Junior College in nearby Levelland, Texas to study music. Just a year into her studies, she transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, one of the premier music business schools in the country. She soon landed an intern position in the A&R department of MCA Records.
Womack’s Debut Album Turns Heads
While at Belmont University, Womack married songwriter, Jason Sellers. She dropped out of college in 1990 a year before graduating and spent time with her husband and new daughter, Aubrie. She returned to music in 1995, performing showcases around Nashville and recording demos of her music. She landed a publishing deal at Tree Publishing and wrote songs with artists like Ricky Skaggs and Hall of Famer Whisperin’ Bill Anderson.
In 1997, Womack released her debut album, Lee Ann Womack, on MCA’s sister label, Decca Records. She wrote much of the material on the album. Some feared her first name, Lee Ann, might confuse people with LeAnn Rimes, but she decided to keep her name anyway. The album’s first single, “Never Again, Again,” climbed to No. 23, while its two follow-up singles, “The Fool” and “You’ve Got to Talk to Me,” both climbed to No. 2. She was nominated for the Horizon Award by the Country Music Association, and the Academy of Country Music named her the Top New Female Vocalist.
Major Crossover Success
In 1998, Decca Records closed down, forcing Womack to move over to MCA. Later that year, she released Some Things I Know, which produced two more No. 2 singles, “A Little Past Little Rock” and “I’ll Think of a Reason Later.” Two more singles followed, as did another award from the Academy of Country music for Favorite New Country Artist. In January of 1999, she gave birth to her second daughter, Anna.
The roof blew off of Womack’s career in 2000 with the release of her third album, I Hope You Dance. The album’s title track shot to No.1 on Billboard’s country chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also topped the adult contemporary chart and hit No. 14 on the Hot 100. The song would go on to win Single and Song of the Year honors from the Country Music Association, as well awards from the Academy of Country Music, BMI and a Grammy for Best Country Song.
Womack’s Amazing Return from the Ashes
Womack’s career turned south in 2002 with the release of her fourth studio album, Something Worth Leaving Behind. The material proved a little too pop-oriented for the fans who had come to love her traditional country style, and despite debuting at No. 2 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart, sales ultimately proved dismal. Only two singles were released from the album, and both failed to crack the top ten. In 2002, she would go on to win a Grammy and Country Music Association award for her duet with Willie Nelson on “Mendocino County Line” from his album The Great Divide.
Womack returned to traditional country in 2005 with the release of her fifth studio album, There’s More Where That Came From,” which went on to win the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year. Then in 2008, she released Call Me Crazy, which included the duet, “Everything but Quits,” with George Strait and “The Bees,” featuring backing vocals by Keith Urban. The album was nominated for Best Country Album.
Most Popular Lee Ann Womack Songs
- “I Hope You Dance”
- “The Fool”
- “You’ve Got to Talk to Me”
- “A Little Past Little Rock”
- “I’ll Think of a Reason Later”
Lee Ann Womack Discography