Clint Black and Lisa Hartman's Daughter, Lily, Is Following Their Musical Path: 'They're Guiding Me'
Lisa Hartman Black says she watched her daughter Lily's love for animals when she was a little girl and hoped she'd grow up to be a veterinarian. But then Lisa and her husband, Clint Black, heard Lily sing, "and we went, oh, I don't think she's gonna be a vet."
Considering her lineage, perhaps it was meant to be. Clint, of course, is a country legend, and Lisa had her own career as a pop-rock recording artist before she turned to acting and earned star roles on the 1980s hit drama Knots Landing and in TV movies.
Now all three Blacks are preparing to make singing a true family affair by taking their music out on the road. Clint and Lisa announced their first-ever tour, "Mostly Hits & the Mrs.," back in June. Then last month, they announced Lily, 20, now an aspiring country artist who performs professionally as Lily Pearl Black, has been added to their bill.
Her inclusion, Clint and Lisa explain, became possible after Lily decided to take a gap year during her music studies at Nashville's Belmont University. Their invitation was in a favorite spot — at the family dining table in the homey kitchen of their Nashville mansion.
Clint, 59, recalls making the ask: "Well, if you're not going to be in school, do you want to go on tour with us?"
"That's when I screamed and almost started crying," says Lily, in an interview for a story about her family in the current issue of PEOPLE magazine.
Her reaction says as much about her relationship with her parents as it does her professional ambitions. An only child, Lily calls her father and mother her "best friends." Besides their musical gifts, she also shares her dad's quick wit and her mom's sunny warmth.
"We always have fun," she says, "especially because we are so close."
Clint and Lisa made sure of that from day one. A much-wanted child, Lily didn't arrive until the Blacks' 10th year of marriage; determined not to miss a moment of parenthood, Lisa stepped back from the spotlight after Lily's birth, and Clint put his career almost on hold for her first three years.
"I remember seeing an interview with Billy Joel talking about what he missed being gone and the decision he made," Clint recalls, "and he used the phrase, 'I didn't want to be Uncle Daddy,' and that really had an impact on me."
Today, the couple light up as they laugh and reminisce about the joys and challenges of raising their daughter, who showed a passion for performing at an early age.
"She's always been an actor and able to assume characters," says Clint.
"She would walk in and be a British concierge," Lisa, 65, recalls about one of her daughter's childhood flights of fancy.
"Yeah, only traveling parents can raise a pretend concierge!" Clint adds with a chuckle.
In high school, Lily joined a rock band, and her love for singing blossomed into career aspiration.
"She started singing more and more," Clint recalls, "and hearing her voice, we knew it was only a matter of time when we needed to ask, hey, what do you want to do? Where do you want to go to college? What do you want to study? Who do you want to be?" And finally: "How can we help you?"
The one thing they didn't say, he adds, is "hey, you ought to do this." Indeed, both Clint and Lisa are Lily's exhibits A and B of the ups and downs of such a difficult and unpredictable career field. With 13 No. 1s, Clint boasts one of the most successful country careers of all time. But Lisa — after recording four albums in the 1970s and 1980s — was never able to score a breakout hit with her strong, emotive voice, and she hung up any artist ambitions after the couple married in 1991.
"His career was so huge," she says, explaining her decision, "and I had done my thing, and I just pretty much let it go."
Over the years, Clint has kept tugging Lisa back into the studio, most notably in 1999 for "When I Said I Do," their romantic duet that topped the country chart and earned the couple an ACM award for vocal event of the year. Then last year, they appeared as Snow Owls on The Masked Singer, a high-profile appearance that helped pave the way to their upcoming tour.
Both Clint and Lisa know their daughter's own career success will depend on so much that's out of her hands, but they're determined to do all they can to help her take her best shot. Her rock days over, she's since set her sights on country. The family tour is actually an integral part of Clint's year-long independent-study program that he's customized for Lily, which also includes piano lessons, commercial voice lessons and songwriting.
"Anything rewarding," Clint says, "is going to be hard work."
Lily has already gotten important stage experience through her folks, taking a solo turn last year during her dad's set on the Grand Ole Opry to sing Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home." In September, she also joined Lisa to appear in Clint's headlining show at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium.
Recalling her daughter's excitement as she exited the Ryman stage, Lisa knows well that Lily has caught the artist bug: "She comes off, and she's saying, 'Oh my God, it was so much fun! I want to do more!' And I thought, 'There you go. Then that's what you gotta do.'"
Lily obviously takes inspiration, comfort and guidance from these two seasoned pros standing in her corner.
"To be able to do a first tour with them has made everything better and more comfortable," she says. "They're guiding me, and they're also there as friends by my side. It's like a win-win in every way."
As they get ready to head out on tour, Lily says she's looking forward to being with her parents as much as being on stage.
What's the best part of being their kid?
"Oh, probably the fun we have," she says. "When my friends ask me about growing up and what that was like, I always say it was really easy and normal. And now that I'm coming into my own and going into a career that they have gone into, none of it is super-overwhelming. Yeah, some of it's overwhelming, but most of it, I've been prepared for it by them."
The "Mostly Hits & the Mrs." tour launches Nov. 18 in Wichita Falls, Texas, and continues for 23 more dates, finishing Feb. 14 in New Orleans.
For more on Clint, Lisa and Lily Black, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
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