Shane McAnally + Michael Baum — Country’s Greatest Love Stories
In January of 2017, hit-making country songwriter and producer Shane McAnally and his husband, Michael Baum, legally tied the knot, posting a snapshot to Instagram of themselves and their two children celebrating the milestone. However, by that point, they'd already been married for five years, and their love story dates back even further.
McAnally, a native of Mineral Wells, Texas, moved to Nashville at the age of 19, intending to pursue a solo career as a country artist. He signed to Curb Records and charted three singles in 1999 and 2000, but never amassed much momentum in the industry. McAnally continued to struggle over the years that followed, despite a move to Los Angeles, and he reached his breaking point in 2007, after losing his home and having his car repossessed.
At the same time, he was struggling with his personal identity. He now says that, back then, he was so concerned that the music industry would find out that he was gay that he couldn't truly be himself as an artist.
"I just wanted to be in country music, and back then, I wanted to be in country music worse that I wanted to be true to myself," McAnally tells The Boot.
It was during this career and personal low point that McAnally met his now-husband during a trip to Palm Springs, Calif. He explained to People in 2019 that he originally only bargained for a vacation fling, as he was living in LA at the time, and Baum was living in Atlanta, Ga. However, the pair struck up a connection and began dating long-distance. Soon, it became clear that Baum wasn't interested in hiding their relationship, and McAnally knew he would have to come out if he wanted them to stay together.
"He was not a person that could be told, 'I'm going to keep this a secret.' He was like, 'If we're going to be together, I can't hide,'" McAnally explains. "At that point, I had no success anyway. I had lost my house. I had lost my car, and I met someone that was saying, 'I love you anyway, except I can't do this if you're in the closet.' So then I just came out."
Making the decision to be true to himself publicly turned out to be an important one for McAnally's career. Country is known as the three-chords-and-the-truth genre, and he soon realized that the newfound authenticity in his songwriting was paying dividends.
"Before, I was always worried about the pronouns I was using. I worried: 'Will a good ol' boy sing a song if a gay guy wrote it?'" he remembers to People. "And it was represented in my work. That stopped because I met my husband."
Career momentum started to truly mount in 2008, when Lee Ann Womack recorded a song he wrote, "Last Call," and it hit the Top 20. McAnally began working with artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney and Sam Hunt, and he quickly became one of Music City's most in-demand songwriters, notching hit after hit. Eventually, he even parlayed that career success into a mentor spot on NBC's songwriting-focused competition show Songland.
McAnally's life was dotted with happy personal milestones, too: He and Baum got married in Mexico in September of 2012, surrounded by a star-powered guest list that included Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Old Dominion's Trevor Rosen. Fellow songwriting heavyweight Josh Osborne officiated the ceremony. The following year, the couple welcomed two children, twins Dash Ryan and Dylan Brook McAnally.
At the time of their wedding, same-sex marriage wasn't legally recognized in the United States; however, that changed in 2015, when a landmark Supreme Court decision officially ruled that same-sex couples would be guaranteed the right to marry in all 50 states. When Baum and McAnally made their union legal in Nashville, the city's then-mayor, Megan Barry, married them.