Beloved by fans of everything from country music to down-home cooking, Trisha Yearwood has been a cultural icon for well over two decades. Born on Sept. 19, 1964, to Gwendolyn and Jack Howard Yearwood, Patricia Lynn Yearwood spent her earliest years in Monticello, Ga., performing in elementary school musicals and church choir groups.

Although Yearwood possessed an innate musical talent and passion from a young age, she didn't truly discover her calling until trying a few other things first: A straight-A student, Yearwood spent her high school years considering a career in accounting before enlisting for a four-year tour in the United States Air Force after graduation. Once her time in the armed forces was up, Yearwood did indeed find her way to Nashville -- but first as an agent for musicians. It wasn't until a few years of trying to support other singers that she finally found her true calling to be one herself.

The rest, as they say, is history: In the late 1980s, Yearwood was hired at MTM Records (which would later be bought and absorbed into RCA Nashville) and recorded her first set of demos, while also singing backup vocals for other new artists ... including her future husband, Garth Brooks! After working with the up-and-coming country star, Yearwood developed a friendship with Brooks, who promised to help her sign her own record deal. True to his word, Brooks introduced Yearwood to his producer and kicked off a series of musical endeavors that eventually led to Yearwood being signed by MCA Nashville.

In 1991, Yearwood released her self-titled debut album with MCA; its the lead single, "She's in Love With the Boy," reached No. 1 on the country charts and brought Yearwood a taste of the success that would follow. In 1992, Yearwood was named Top New Female Vocalist at the ACM Awards and Favorite New Country Artist by the American Music Awards. Trisha Yearwood went on to sell one million copies, be certified platinum and spawn three other Top 10 singles, including "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart," which was co-written with Brooks.

Speaking of Brooks, Yearwood's relationship with her fellow country icon has been almost as well-documented as her career itself. Friends from their early days of recording and performing together, the two didn't become an official couple until 2000, after both of their previous marriages ended. In 2005, Brooks proposed to Yearwood in front of more than 7,000 fans at a show in Bakersfield, Calif.; they were married later that year in Oklahoma.

All told, Yearwood has released 14 studio albums and nearly 60 singles, earning 11 awards (including three Grammys!) in the process. Her music career has been buffeted by multiple film and television appearances, a dedication to philanthropic efforts and even a thriving career as a cookbook author and chef ... all from a little girl from Georgia who thought she would become an accountant!

Click through the photo gallery below to see a few of Yearwood’s most unforgettable career moments in pictures:

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