OFFSTAGE: Tim McGraw’s Landscaping Trophy, Martina McBride’s Old Band

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

If you buy nothing else at the grocery store this week, make it the People Country’s Biggest Stars special issue. The Before They Were Stars spread alone is worth the $12. There are yearbook photos of everyone from Zac Brown (in glasses) to Darius Rucker (in glasses and a bow tie) to Sara Evans (in her New Franklin High School band gear and what looks like a perm) to Tim McGraw (holding on tight to his 1983 Future Farmers of America landscaping trophy). And beyond the pictures, there are all kinds of stories you may not have heard before. Like how Martina McBride dropped out of college to join a band called the Penetrators. And how Keith Urban said, “Music was a calling before I knew it was.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.