Daddy worked as a disc jockey at several stations around Texas, and the one I remember most was KEBE-AM in my hometown of Jacksonville. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time there with him. Seeing him talk on the microphone and knowing that he was on the radio and then hearing him when I was in the car or at home was exciting—he was kind of a local celebrity. I realized early on that that was something I wanted to do. I’m sure the fact that I was surrounded by country music was the reason I went in that direction. When I graduated from Jacksonville High School, in 1984, I went to Levelland to attend South Plains College, which offered an associate of arts degree in bluegrass and country music. I learned to perform there, and even though I didn’t finish the program, going to that school was probably the best thing I ever did for my career.

Singer Lee Ann Womack was born and raised in Jacksonville. Her first album, 1997’s Lee Ann Womack, produced the number one hit “The Fool.” Her latest release, I Hope You Dance, debuted in May at number one on Billboard’s country charts. This year Womack is nominated for six Country Music Association awards—including female vocalist of the year. The awards show will air on October 4 on CBS.