Faith Hill Finds Perfect Timing for The Hits

New Collection Includes "Breathe," "This Kiss," "Red Umbrella"

Faith Hill first won over country fans in 1993 with “Wild One,” her debut single and a four-week No. 1. Since then, the young woman from Star, Miss., has evolved into a musical powerhouse, with the last two Soul2Soul tours with husband Tim McGraw grossing an astonishing $141 million.

Hollywood has noticed, too. Sure, she did well with her acting role in The Stepford Wives, but her show-stopping performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at the 2002 Oscars proved she was far more than a pretty face.

So, what’s next?

“I’m in the middle of making a record and I have asked my label and management not to ask for a deadline,” Hill tells CMT.com, following a visit to CMT’s Top 20 Countdown. “I’m in the middle of a very creative process, and this is the perfect time to have The Hits out there.” The collection opens with her new single, “Red Umbrella,” followed by a shower of radio favorites, like “Breathe,” “This Kiss” and “It Matters to Me.”

Here, she reminisces about two of her most popular music videos, knowing when it’s time to take a break and why she’s OK with a few wrinkles.

CMT.com: The video for “This Kiss” was so imaginative for its time. Did you think, “Dancing on flowers? I hope I can pull this off”?

Faith Hill: I had pulled some pictures out a magazine — I think it was a Neiman Marcus catalog — and thought, “OK, this would be a perfect visual and inspiration for the ‘This Kiss’ video.” At our first meeting with Steven Goldman, the director, I pulled out my pictures and laid them down, and as he’s turning around to bring his pictures around to lay his down, they were the exact same pictures. So we were on the same page, immediately. We didn’t have to speak a word. We knew it would be a fun project to work on together.

It was all done on green screen. The only thing they did create was the big peach that I sat on. That was enormous. I’m not sure where that is today. I would be curious to know who has the big peach. But the rest of it was done on green screen, so I had to imagine jumping from flower to flower, and he would always remind me, “Now, you’re hanging from a vine.” It was all imagination.

Did you notice that you became instantly recognizable after the “Breathe” video?

It started with “This Kiss,” honestly, but after “Breathe,” it was grander for sure. It was broader. (laughs) It was much broader, and that was an exciting ride. That started in 1999 and went through the birth of Audrey in 2001. It was fast-paced. Everything was happening so quickly.

I did a lot of things during that time that were pretty incredible, like singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl the same year that the Tennessee Titans went to the Super Bowl. That’s one of my greatest memories. I was a spokesperson for Pepsi and for Cover Girl, all in the same year. All this was around that whole “Breathe” thing. It’s one of those decisions that you make: “OK, this train is moving at breakneck speed. Either we stay on it, or we jump off of it.” And I chose to stay on it. Everything just kind of happened — the Oscars and everything around that time period.

And then I just died. I was exhausted. I remember the last big thing I did was singing the theme song for Pearl Harbor, “There You’ll Be.” I was so tired and thinking, “I just can’t do anything else. I need to quit for a while. I’m just exhausted.” During the video shoot, I just felt weird. I felt different. My hair was different. My face was breaking out. So, a month later, when I’m asked to sing the national anthem at Pearl Harbor for the premiere of the movie, I was pregnant with Audrey. Shooting the video, I didn’t know I was pregnant. After that, I was like, shoo, shut everything down for a while.

Does your body send you signals when you’re overwhelmed?

Well, because I’m a mom, there’s never a restful, peaceful time until everyone’s asleep, but I work half as much as I used to because there’s no way Tim could have his career and [for me to] be a wife and a mom and do the things I did before all the kids. There’s no way to do it all. But, yes, there are times that I reach the limit and I feel it physically and I can feel myself losing patience. Little things like not having clothes washed or not being organized, and that’s when I know I need to slow down.

I’d like to ask you about the before-and-after Redbook cover shots that were going around the Internet. Did it bother you that they cleaned up the original photo to that degree?

I haven’t seen it. I heard about it, but I never saw it. I didn’t want to see it. … I’ve been doing covers for magazines for … I don’t know how many years now. Sometimes they go way too far. I’ve actually asked them to cut back. The last several things we’ve done, we said, “Don’t do so much.” Sometimes when it’s so much, it doesn’t even look real. It looks bad. It’s like, “That doesn’t even look me.” And sometimes I’ll say, “Can you get rid of that wrinkle?” (laughs) “As long as you can take that wrinkle away, do it!” You know, there are both sides to it.

One time, a magazine retouched my dimple away. I didn’t even notice that I had a dimple. Tim said, “Where’s your dimple? You’re smiling, but your dimple’s not even on your face.” So we started requesting them to lay off, especially around the eyes. I have wrinkles around the eyes. They’re laugh lines and they should remain. Take some of them away, sure! (laughs) But don’t take all of them away because that’s my life, you know?

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.