Faith Hill sang two brand-new songs, “600 Years” and “American Heart,” for a crowded room of country radio broadcasters in Nashville on Friday afternoon (Feb. 24). Her private performance during the Warner Music Nashville luncheon at Country Radio Seminar also boasted five of her biggest hits and a fan favorite, “Stronger.”
Aside from expressing her gratitude to country radio, Hill barely spoke during her set, choosing to communicate through her music. Her first three selections — “Mississippi Girl,” “This Kiss” and “The Way You Love Me” — were all upbeat No. 1 singles. The soulfulness in her voice remains intact, even though she’s been mostly missing from country radio for the last five years.
After that triple-hitter, Hill introduced “600 Years” and sang it live for the first time. The romantic ballad draws heavily on her gospel influences, both musically and lyrically. However, Hill did not indicate it would be her next single. If it is released, though, expect to hear it at weddings for years to come.
In the middle of her set, she delivered “Breathe,” a career song and a No. 1 hit from 1999. A dozen years later, her vocal power is undiminished. She followed that with “American Heart,” insisting that such a thing can never be broken. New Orleans and Detroit get shout-outs in the lyrics, as do California and Texas. Her longtime label would be wise to release it as a single soon, now that we’re just a few months out from the Fourth of July.
Although it never resonated at country radio, Hill surprised the audience with “Stronger” from her 2002 album, Cry. (If you missed her thrilling 2007 rendition on Letterman, it’s worth looking up.) In any other venue, fans would have been shrieking and applauding her incredible vocal prowess. However, among the CRS crowd — music industry veterans fatigued by several days of business and partying — it was met with more than a few Facebook updates and early exits.
Nonetheless, Hill and her band moved right into “Piece of My Heart,” the No. 1 from 1994 that earned a standing ovation and concluded her set. Indeed, Hill did give the broadcasters in the audience a piece of her heart. Only time will tell if they’ll share that piece with listeners back home.