Sixteen number one albums. Over 40 industry awards. More than 50 million records sold. These are some big numbers for a Louisiana kid who once thought he was destined to be an athlete or a lawyer. But after picking up a guitar for the first time in college, Tim McGraw set himself on the path to becoming a worldwide country music superstar – a path he continues to walk today, more than 25 years after first stepping onto the scene.
Hunter country music fans will be flocking in droves to Hope Estate later this year, with Tim McGraw’s headline show hitting Wine Country on Friday 4th October. It’s been a long time between visits for Tim; his last Australian concerts were way back in 2012 with his wife, fellow country artist Faith Hill. But he’s looking forward to returning, lauding his Aussie audiences as “some of the loudest and most loyal music fans in the world”.
“The thing about Aussies that has impressed me every time I’ve played there is certainly their knowledge of the music – knowing the lyrics and enjoying the music and having a great time but also really feeling the music. As an artist, when you see an audience – especially an audience that’s not in America – that digs in and really feels what you’re saying, feels the music and really has a connection... That’s something pretty special,” says Tim.
Playing to sold-out crowds that know every word to his songs was the furthest thing from a teenage Tim McGraw’s mind. He’d always been more sporty than musical growing up (though he has always had a love of country music, nurtured by his music-fan mum and ‘cowboy’ stepdad). He took to baseball in particular, starting college on a baseball scholarship and assuming that was where his future lay, but his real calling made itself known when he finally picked up a guitar.
He began performing at small venues in the late 1980s, playing country covers and some of his own material. Friends and family encouraged him to move to Nashville, the home of country music in the US, but doubt initially held him back. “The thing about moving to Nashville and being a part of millions of people who want to do this for a living… You think in the back of your mind that those people were told since they were a toddler to be a musician and to do this,” he reflects. “You never think you’ll have a shot.”
But one day, after a conversation with his mum, Tim finally decided to take the leap, packing up his belongings and joining the world’s biggest country music community. It was a move that changed his life. He signed with his first record label, releasing his first singles and debut album in the early 90s. But it wasn’t until 1994 that he really hit the big time, with his second record becoming the best-selling country album of that year. It’s been a wildly successful ride since then – a quarter of a century later, he’s still at the top of his game and has cemented his position as one of the biggest country music stars in the world.
So what can Hunter Valley audiences expect when they see Tim at Hope Estate in October? All the old favourites, of course, but perhaps some fresh material as well… “You’ll hear some new stuff,” he confirms. “We’ll play some new things from the album we’re working on. I think the new album is the best collection of songs on a solo album that I’ve ever had – it’s my favourite record so far.”
There’s a range of packages available for the Hope Estate show, giving McGraw fans the chance to have the ultimate concert experience. From hamper and VIP Deck packages through to Brewhouse Cocktail Party and Signature Dinner invites, there’s something for every tier of country music fan. As well as the man himself, the show will feature sets from support acts Midland and Travis Collins, so it’s sure to be a jam-packed, high-energy night, celebrating the best the genre has to offer.
Event packages can be purchased for the show on Friday, 4th October through the Hope Estate website (www.hopeestate.com.au), and tickets are also available through Ticketek.