Country music is known for its powerful love songs, and also for its rich history of power couples. From George Jones and Tammy Wynette, to Johnny Cash and June Carter, many of its biggest stars have made for legendary pairings when they shared the mic with each other. They didn’t even need to be coupled up to make great music. Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn successfully proved this.
Few, however, are as special as Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. Besides being two of the most likable people in the business, they also had to earn their happiness together. While they became a trusted team as singing partners early in their careers, their romance couldn’t begin for quite some time.
Trisha, like Garth, came from a middle-class family, with a schoolteacher for a mother and a banker for a father. She was born two and a half years after Garth, on September 19, 1964, in Monticello, GA — population 2,000. While Garth busied himself with sports and family sing-alongs, Trisha played talent shows and sang at church and community events. After high school, she earned an associate degree in business. After a year at the University of Georgia, she dropped out and turned her attention to pursuing a career in music.
Heading to Nashville, Tennessee, Trisha enrolled at Belmont University. This is the academic proving ground for many young country music hopefuls, and she studied music business while there. During her time at Belmont, she picked up an internship at independent label MTM Records, which was founded by Mary Tyler Moore. Here, she worked as a receptionist. Through that, the young singer got the chance to record vocal scratch tracks for demos that the label hoped would be picked up by mainstream artists. One of the artists she sang with was Garth. “We hit it off,” Trisha told CMT. “But I had no idea he’d turn out to be Garth Brooks!”
A short time after they started recording together, Garth landed his deal with Capitol Records. He promised to help Trisha out if he ever got the chance. Their voices worked well together, and each was eager to carve out a career for themselves despite the long odds. But that was all there was to their relationship then. Garth was married to Sandy Mahl, and Trisha was wed to Chris Latham, whom she married in 1987. “It’s strange because I had that feeling like when you first meet your wife, but I’d been married for 13 months,” Garth told Ellen DeGeneres in 2013. “Being married, it’s gotta be right.”
Trisha’s Big Break
When it came time to cut his sophomore album, No Fences, Garth brought Trisha in to sing harmonies. Through that, she got a spot at a label showcase and there she finally got her own break: a record deal with MCA Records. She didn’t waste any time making the most of it. Her first single, “She’s in Love With the Boy,” released in March 1991, was a No. 1 country hit. Her debut album, Trisha Yearwood, released that August, went to No. 2, and sold more than 2 million copies. Providing backing vocals on the track “Like We Never Had a Broken Heart” was none other than Garth.
As one of the hottest things in country music, Trisha went on tour that summer with Garth. She also signed a deal with Revlon cosmetics to appear in its television ads. In the coming years, she stood out with the steady excellence of her recordings. They were praised by critics and sold reliably well in equal measure. Thinkin’ About You, from 1995, spawned two more No. 1 singles. By that time, she was also dabbling in acting, including a recurring role on the hit TV show JAG. By the end of the decade, however, Trisha was twice divorced, her marriage to Latham having ended in 1991 and her second — to The Mavericks’ bassist Robert Reynolds — collapsing in 1999 after five years.
More Than Friends
All the while, she and Garth went in and out of each other’s lives, with duets like “In Another’s Eyes” from 1998 going to No. 2. Trisha’s decision to join her friend on his world tour that year once again sparked the ongoing rumor that the two were more than just friends, a fact both stridently denied. By 2002, however, both were single and ready to make their relationship official. For her part, Trisha devoted herself to being a second mom to Garth’s kids while doing her best to respect Sandy’s space.
She and Garth insist on never spending time apart — “We plan our days if we’re gonna be apart, so that we can get back together as soon as possible,” she’s shared — and in 2005 Garth proposed to her onstage during an event at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California. “I’m freaking out onstage in front of 7,000 people. But I did say yes,” Trisha recalled to Us Weekly. While Garth made the most of his retirement, Trisha was at the peak of her powers, earning her first country No. 1 album with 2001’s Inside Out and repeating the feat with its follow-up, Jasper County, four years later. Gradually, though, Trisha turned her attention to other passions.
Making Her Mark
In 2008 she wrote her first cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen, with her sister and mother. It became a New York Times bestseller. In 2010, she wrote a bestselling follow-up. Two years later, she returned to TV on a full-time basis as the host of her own cooking show on the Food Network, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, for which she received an Emmy Award in 2013 and continues to helm in its 12th season.
With Garth back on the road, Trisha has taken more of a back seat musically, but has joined him as a regular guest on his comeback world tour. Throughout their years together, they’ve never hesitated to help lift each other up to new heights. “I think we’re just meant to be,” Trisha told Parade. “We have a friendship that’s a great base for all of it.” As recently as August 2022, Garth professed his desire to be a “duet couple” on his Inside Studio G Facebook Live series, to which Trisha teased, “To do that, we need to record some more duets.” Garth was happy to oblige: “Any chance to sing with you, I will take,” he said.
Best of the Lovebirds: 5 Essential Collaborations
1. “Like We Never Had a Broken Heart” (1991)
Garth Brooks shared in the writing credit for this cut off Trisha Yearwood’s self-titled debut. At that point, she was still early enough in her career that his presence could add a big boost to one of her singles, although she’d already topped the charts on her own. “Like We Never Had a Broken Heart” was her second-ever single, and fared pretty well in its own right by reaching No. 4.
2. “In Another’s Eyes” (1997)
As surprising as it may sound, Garth and Trisha have never had a No. 1 single together. They came closest when he contributed his talents to this cut off Trisha’s first greatest hits collection, Songbook. Once again, Garth shared in the writing credits, but it marked their first major collaboration since independently becoming superstars. It reached No. 2 and earned them a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration, the second and last Grammy win in Garth’s illustrious career.
3. “Squeeze Me In” (2002)
Garth and Trisha were yet to go public with their romance when they released “Squeeze Me In” as the third single from Garth’s Scarecrow album, but the chemistry was already bubbling to the surface in the studio. Written by Delbert McClinton and originally recorded a few years prior by another artist, these two took it to the country Top 20 and earned another Grammy nomination.
4. “Love Will Always Win” (2005)
A rare instance of the couple tackling another country star’s hit, “Love Will Always Win” was a success in Faith Hill’s hands in 1998. Seven years later, Garth — then still officially retired — and Trisha opted to turn it into a duet for The Lost Sessions. It was released as a single a few months after the couple were married. They marked the occasion by singing the song on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
5. “Shallow” (2021)
These two legends certainly aren’t afraid to cover the biggest of big hits. “Shallow” became a phenomenon in 2018 thanks to its appearance in Lady Gaga (an avowed fan of Garth’s) and Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born. Three years later, Garth and Trisha released this inspired rendition, often performing the power ballad during Garth’s live shows, proving that the flame still burns hot between them after all these years.
A version of this article appeared in our partner magazine, Garth Brooks.