The weather seemed to speak to the occasion on Wednesday (Oct. 5), when Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame. The noonday sun, shining down on Walk of Fame Park, felt like a sign of the sunny outlook ahead for the superstar twosome, whose careers—like the above-average October temps—are even hotter than some may have anticipated.
As mentioned by WSM’s Bill Cody, emcee for the midday event, McGraw is on a chart roll, with three singles simultaneously in the Top 20: a record previously held only by him. At Tuesday night’s surprise, last-minute Ryman Auditorium concert, McGraw and Hill announced plans for a 2017 world tour, reviving the Soul2Soul joint-headlining concept which, in 2006/’07, became the record holder for country music’s highest-grossing tour, seen by more than a million and a half fans.
So, with all that activity already on the table—on the eve of the fairy-tale star couple’s 20th wedding anniversary, no less—McGraw and Hill took their places on the mobile stage along the 4th Avenue side of Walk of Fame Park as the sounds of ever-present construction nearby were momentarily obscured by cheers from the throng of fans surrounding the downtown park’s other three sides. The fans, many of whom had traveled considerable distances and braved the shadeless midmorning heat well before the 11:30 a.m. induction took place, received deserved acknowledgment multiple times throughout the half-hour ceremony. Those who are still visiting the city are likely to be easily identified by their sunburn-streaked noses and foreheads.
Opening comments by Mayor Megan Berry contained gratitude for the honorees’ wide-ranging local philanthropy, while Cody summarized the couple’s many accolades and awards. He then introduced Reba McEntire, who took the microphone to first introduce Hill, a longtime friend, and then McGraw, the Walk of Fame’s 73rd and 74th inductees. McEntire’s earthy patter included recalling a round of golf she and Hill had played together when McEntire’s now-26-year-old son, Shelby, was only 4. According to Mama McEntire, the youngster had cheekily admonished Hill on the course, saying, “I toldja and I toldja, you gots to concentrate!” She quickly turned from the podium for a confirming, intimate look from a smiling Hill, who clearly remembered the event.
In introducing McGraw, she related a story told to her by Scott Borchetta, the head of McGraw’s record label, Big Machine. When the label signed him in 2012, McGraw asked to sign the contract outside the downtown Greyhound bus station where he’d first set foot on Nashville cement in 1989. Poignantly, the station’s (now-former) 8th Avenue location was a mere four blocks away from the cement strip where McGraw and his wife knelt to see and be photographed with their Walk of Fame stars.
Both stars’ brief acceptance speeches included expressions of affection for their adopted home city of Nashville, as well as some emotional moments involving their acknowledgment of longtime support from family members who were seated in the VIP area near the stage. Hill choked up remembering how her brother Steve “used to buy my clothes for me when I would sing back in Mississippi . . . rodeos, fairs, rest homes, prisons [crowd laughter] . . . wherever I would sing.” McGraw also had warm words for Curb Records’ Mike Borchetta, the father of Scott Borchetta, who’d given him a shot at stardom. “When no one else would even listen to me, he believed in me,” said McGraw, noting the full circle his latter-day career has taken. “To be back again with a Borchetta to finish out my career, hopefully, is a wonderful thing for me.”
McGraw, almost exactly a decade ago, enjoyed a comparable honor when he was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This time, though, he had the significant added privilege of experiencing an induction in tandem with his wife, one of the most admired and photogenic women in show business. McGraw and Hill, however, are not the first married couple whose famous names occupy adjacent slabs of Music City pavement. They were preceded last year by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood; also, legendary husband-and-wife songwriting team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, though the two share a single Walk of Fame plaque, were posthumously honored in 2006. But, as the sunburned faithful surrounding the ceremony would no doubt agree, no couple on the Walk of Fame is more glamorous or inspirational than Nashville’s own Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.