Faith Hill Storms Fort Bragg to Entertain Troops

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Shannon Moriarty lined up outside the Fort Bragg stadium at 5:30 a.m. with her three kids in tow, holding a sign that read, “Military wives need Faith.” Her husband, a solider at the base, served in the desert last year and probably will be deployed again soon.

“We really need a break,” Moriarty said. “We need to get our minds off things going on around the world. It’s such a treat for her to come here.”

She was talking about country-pop diva Faith Hill who visited Fort Bragg on Thursday (Feb. 13) to play an early morning concert for an estimated 10,000 enlisted men and their families. Hill picked the North Carolina base because her childhood friend, Gaye Knight, and her husband, an Army chaplain, are stationed there.

“I went straight to my girlfriend’s house, and she made a fabulous meal for us,” Hill told CMT News. “I also got to visit with some troops that were being deployed last evening, so I guess I was the last person they saw before they left out.”

Hill kicked off her short set with the mega hit “This Kiss” before moving on to fare from her latest album, Cry. The area in front of the stage was a sea of red, green and black berets worn by soldiers from the 82nd Airborne and Special Operations divisions. The bleachers behind were filled with military wives, husbands and children, many of whom held up signs and CDs showing their support for Hill.

“I just felt so proud to be on this ground, to be an American,” Hill said. “These ladies and gentlemen before me are just so dedicated in what they do and so driven and always know their tasks. It was an awesome feeling.”

Although the concert was light-hearted and fun, the worldwide political turmoil was still evident. Security was tighter than normal on the base as many of its residents prepare for a possible war. Even Hill was guarded by a mass of soldiers and military police as she walked around backstage.

“A lot of soldiers you see out here are very likely going to be deployed overseas within a short matter of time,” said Gary Kolb, a Fort Bragg public information officer. “I think it’s a great change of pace, and it makes them feel good that someone like Faith Hill would come out here and show her support and show that she appreciates what we do for them.”

And the soldiers definitely appreciated Hill — and for more than just her music. Dressed in tight pants, high-heeled boots and a military-style jacket, Hill elicited several catcalls and more than one marriage proposal from the crowd. Her marital status was quickly cleared up when she brought husband Tim McGraw and their youngest daughter, Audrey, onstage. McGraw staked his claim by planting a big kiss on Hill who responded with a surprised “ooh, la-la.”

The Fort Bragg show was one of Hill’s few public performances since the Soul 2 Soul tour wrapped up in 2000. The singer told CMT News she doesn’t know yet if she will tour this year to support Cry. She will, however, perform at the CMT Flameworthy 2003 Video Music Awards on April 7. Hill is a preliminary nominee in four categories of the fan-voted show.

“It’s very important that it’s fan-voted,” Hill said when asked about the Flameworthy show. “If it weren’t for the fans, none of us would have a job. They’ve always been very supportive, and it’s fun to give it back to them.”