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Trisha Yearwood Admits She Was ‘Kind of a Nerd’ in School

Trisha Yearwood childhood
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

Trisha Yearwood has sold more than 15 million albums and won dozens of awards, including three Grammys, throughout her career, which has already spanned almost 25 years. And according to the singer, success was something that she required of herself, even at an early age.

“I was kind of a nerd, so I was very much an overachiever,” Yearwood revealed during a recent Q&A at the Country Music Hall of Fame. “If you believe in astrology, I’m a Virgo, so I’m very controlling, I’m very neat, and I’m very organized.

“It’s a nightmare for everyone who knows me,” she adds with a laugh. “But even as a kid I was like that …”

Still, Yearwood knew from an early age that she wanted to focus on music.

“Music, from the time I was probably about five years old, was my obsession,” she acknowledges. “I was going to say passion, but I really was obsessed; I really didn’t want to do anything else. Education was a given, only because of the way I was raised. Truth be told, I thought, at 15 years old, I should go and get a record deal and drop out of school, and my parents would have had none of that. I’m grateful now that my parents were pushing me in that way, because I wasn’t mature enough on so many levels to do that.”

Instead, the Georgia native, who was raised in the small town of Monticello (population: 2,000), took every musical opportunity she could, including performing at piano recitals and singing in choirs, while dreaming of stardom.

“I was very dramatic — very, like, ‘It’s never going to happen,'” Yearwood recalls. “‘My life is over at 16 because I’m not already famous. I’m not going to get my record deal. I’m not going to be able to sing for a living.'”

Yearwood started out attending a local college before her dreams propelled her to move to Nashville at 19.

“I was really close to my family, and I was scared. It was a long way away from the middle of Georgia to come up here, [so] I started out at the University of Georgia. I was a business major because I’m very practical, and I was miserable,” she admits. “And so I transferred to Belmont University [in Nashville] in my junior year, because I really just wanted to be in Nashville. I felt like this was the place where the music I wanted to make was being made. So it was my kind of making a deal with my parents that I would finish college if I could move to Nashville.”

The aspiring singer graduated with a degree in business administration and landed a job at MTM Records, then became a demo singer before earning her own record deal.

“I got a real job, as a receptionist at a record label, and I started figuring out that if I didn’t get aggressive about it, I’d get to be the receptionist forever,” Yearwood says. “So I started to network a bit, called some writers that I knew. I got work based on the fact that I showed up on time, I worked cheap, I knew the songs when I got there, and I sounded good, and I did my own harmonies for free. So I was pretty good, cheap labor, and reliable. People would hire you because of those things.”

Yearwood’s self-titled freshman album was released in 1991 on MCA. Her debut single, “She’s in Love With the Boy,” stayed at the top of the charts for two weeks.

Trisha Yearwood + More Country Singers Who Learned Before They Earned

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