Tim McGraw Gave Up 'Everything' to Launch His Career

The country star opens up about music, family and more on the latest episode of Oprah's Master Class

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty

So resolute was Tim McGraw in following his dream of a musical career, he decided to give up his life in Delhi, Louisiana, at the drop of a (cowboy) hat.

“I ended up telling my mom that, you know, I think I’m just going to drop out of school and move to Nashville, and she told me that she was surprised that I hadn’t done it sooner – and I did,” McGraw, 47, says in this Sunday’s episode of Oprah’s Master Class (get an exclusive sneak peek in these videos).

“I sold everything water skis and shotguns and just everything and all the money that I had I got on a Greyhound bus and got to Nashville at 4 in the morning, never looked back. I mean that’s what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to do this no matter what happened,” McGraw shares of his life-changing 1989 journey that blossomed into an award-winning career only five years later.

Not that those trophies defined success. “If I was going to be playing in a club and barely making my rent, or if I was going to be playing in front of 100,000 people, I didn’t care. I was going to be playing music,” he says.

McGraw’s career evolved with plenty of arena-size shows, and his personal life also evolved, as he went on to marry fellow country star Faith Hill and become a proud father to their three girls.

Still, after more than two decades in the industry, and even stints in acting, McGraw, who was named a country music icon at this year’s People’s Choice Awards, says he is hard-pressed to define what makes a song a hit.

“I mean, gosh, I’ve had tons of songs I’ve had to talk everybody around me into believing was a good song. You know it’s just something that, it has to hit me viscerally,” he says of picking a winner. “I have to feel it.”

The singer, who can claim 50 Top 10 country radio songs, adds, “Sometimes the melody hits me and it doesn’t matter what the song says. Sometimes it’s the lyric that just tells a beautiful story and doesn’t matter how it’s rolled out, it’s just a beautiful story. And sometimes it’s just something that feels good to you and so there’s not any sort of formula. What’s beautiful is when all three of those things come together. Then that’s something that as an artist you just think is just magical.”

Oprah’s Master Class airs Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

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