Like any college student who needs to make a little side money, Trisha Yearwood needed a job while attending Belmont University in Nashville. So she went and got her dream job (second to singing, that is) at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Fast forward a couple of decades, and now the singer's very own exhibit, Trisha Yearwood: The Song Remembers When, is open at the museum -- and she couldn't be more excited.

The new exhibit features treasured artifacts from Yearwood's life, including a personal letter from Johnny Cash, her wedding dress from when she married husband Garth Brooks, photographs from her childhood and much, much more.

"It's pretty surreal," Yearwood says with a laugh -- especially since, years ago, college-aged Yearwood was a tour guide at the museum.

"I wanted to sing since I was five years old, and so when I moved to Nashville [for college], I knew I wanted to stay here for the summer ... I needed to get a job," she explains. And while the singer admits that she would have taken any job, what she really wanted to do was work at the Hall of Fame.

"I thought, 'What a great job. I could be a tour guide, I could make some money -- minimum wage but still, a job, and I could be in this building with all this stuff,'" Yearwood continues. "It was a dream job, really."

After her star rose in country music, Yearwood spent some time on the CMHOF's board -- and she was just as giddy about that as when she was a young girl pursuing her dreams.

"It was so weird to have a key to the parking lot," she admits. "[The exhibit] would be special to me anyway ... [but] the fact that I had that history with the Hall makes it even more special."

But the road to the Hall of Fame wasn't instant for the singer. If Yearwood would have had it her way, she would have left home at the young age of 15, but her parents held firm on their desire for her to receive an education.

Yearwood explains that she was offered a contract in the early 1980s: A local man from Monticello, Ga., had connections to the music industry in Nashville, and he recorded a demo for young Yearwood in a rather rustic setup.

"He had a studio in a trailer," Yearwood recalls. "He had a microphone set up. He had twin mattresses set up for baffling."

That recording sparked interest, and when her connections came home from Music City, Yearwood recalls, they said, "We think she’s really good; if you just give us $5,000, we’ll make a real, professional demonstration tape for her, and then we’ll get it sent around to all of the record labels."

"I was in, man. I was 15, and the car's packed up, and I was ready to go," she adds with a laugh. But her mom said, "That's not going to happen."

The experience did, however, provide a huge boost of confidence for Yearwood, giving her confirmation that music was her future. Little did they all know that, years later, tour guides at the Country Music Hall of Fame would be giving tours through Yearwood's own exhibit.

Trisha Yearwood: The Song Remembers When is scheduled to run through December.

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