Originally published in the December 3, 2007 issue of Country Weekly magazine.
In a candid CW interview, Trisha Yearwood opens up about husband Garth Brooks, her father’s death, pregnancy and dirty laundry.
Sitting in a dimly lit Nashville recording studio where she and her longtime record producer, Garth Fundis, are serving up a preview of her new album, Trisha Yearwood looks luminous. Casually clad in jeans and a T-shirt, she radiates the confidence of an artist who has poured her heart and soul into the creative process and is satisfied with the result. But more than that, she exudes the happiness of woman whose personal life and her career give her plenty of reasons to smile.
As the scorching title track of her new release, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love,” fades from the speakers, Trisha’s cell phone rings. The call is from the other Garth in her life—husband Garth Brooks. He’s on his way to the studio and is calling to see if he can bring her anything from McDonald’s.
It sounds like a warm exchange between any loving husband and wife, but Garth and Trisha aren’t your typical couple. This winter is a whirlwind of activity as both are promoting new releases—Garth’s The Ultimate Hits and Trisha’s Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.
“I just love music. I have a passion for singing that is beyond my control really,” says Trisha. “It’s not something that I choose, it chooses me.”
That passion is obvious on her new CD. The songs cover a variety of territory from the energetic title tune to the poignant “Let the Wind Chase You,” written by Sally Barris and Karyn Rochelle. “She’s writes and thinks the way I would want to write if I could,” says Trisha of Karyn, a friend, who contributes several songs on the album. “I was so struck by the vulnerability and the honesty of this song. It’s about a woman who is in love with somebody and realizes that it’s never going to get any better and finally comes to the realization that it’s not her fault.”
Keith Urban makes a special guest appearance on the tune. “When I heard that demo a year ago, I heard his voice in my head,” says Trisha. “I e-mailed him and just said: ‘I can’t thank you enough for coming in to do this and I owe you one. If you need me to mow your grass, just let me know when and where.’ He e-mailed me back and said: ‘It was my pleasure and Tuesday works good for me.’”
Trisha says another new tune, “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” reminds her of Garth. “Except for the two-stepping, it’s pretty much my husband,” she notes.
The last song on the album is also very personal to Trisha. “This is all about my dad,” says Trisha, whose father, Jack, died two years ago. “The song says, ‘If I could write a song that would bring you back to me, it would be the only song I’d ever sing.’ It’s the most personal song for me—even though I didn’t write it—that I’ve ever done.”
Trisha credits Garth with helping her deal with losing her father. “The biggest help to me is that he’d been through it with his mom,” she says. “We could be having a great day and something could trigger me and I would just dissolve into tears. He never made me feel like ‘You need to get over it. You need to go on.’ He gets it because it happened to him, too. I think that the greatest gift is to just have a partner that allows you to continue to grieve because I will grieve for my dad the rest of my life. I can now talk about him and tell some of the great stories about him because he was such a character. I can remember him a lot more in a happy way now than I was able to early on. But it changes your life. It doesn’t get better. You learn to live with it. You learn to live with the void.”
These days, Trisha stays busy dividing her time between the demands of her career and the joys and challenges of being a wife and step mom. Though she has a house in Nashville that comes in handy when she has business in Music City, she and Garth live in Oklahoma where they share custody of his three daughters with his ex-wife Sandy.
When asked what she enjoys most on a typical day at home, Trisha admits she loves sleeping in. “I’m not a morning person, so I always love sleep,” she says. “A typical day for us at home is getting up early to get the girls up for school. Then sometimes we’ll just go back to bed and sleep until 11 o’clock and that’s always a nice luxury.”
Trisha admits she and her husband have different approaches when it comes to starting the day. “I like to get up in the morning and have a cup of coffee and ease into my day, reading a book or something. Garth likes to wake up and instantly go build a bridge or plow a field. He’s really high energy. So we compromise—he doesn’t make me get up and start my day immediately and I don’t take two hours.”
Like most families, activity revolves around kids and work. Between school and sports activities, Trisha and Garth have a busy life with Garth’s dauthers, Allie, 11, August, 13, and Taylor, 15. “They are in bed by 9:30 and if we have business, we’ll get on the computer, return e-mails, talk about what’s going on and go to bed,” explains Trisha. “It’s really pretty typical.”
Trisha admits they are generally homebodies. “We eat at home a lot,” says the Georgia native who has a cookbook coming out next year written with her mom, Gwen, and sister, Beth. “We don’t eat out very much, not because we don’t want to sign autographs or anything, but because we like cooking and we like being home. Friends will call me and say, ‘Will you make chicken salad?’ I make homemade chicken salad that people leave work to come to my house to have lunch and then go back to work.”
Trisha doesn’t refer to herself as a stepmom, but as a “bonus mom,” and loves spending time with the girls. “At first—having no children of my own—I was scared to death and uncomfortable,” she confesses. “They have a mom, so they don’t need a new mom. They need somebody, another adult in their lives, to hopefully give them some direction. That’s something I’m trying to earn every day.”
The girls usually get to spend time every day with both parents and bonus mom. “It’s as normal as it can possibly be for parents who don’t live together,” reveals Trisha. “It’s flexible, but for the girls it’s consistent. The biggest problem so far has been [if one says], ‘Oh my gosh! I have a soccer game and I don’t know where my uniform is!’ because they are living in two houses. Sometimes you never know where the shin guards are.”
The arrangement works because the girls are everyone’s priority. “It’s the best situation that it could be and Sandy has been nothing but kind to me,” explains Trisha.
When asked about the rumors that she might be pregnant, Trisha laughs. “I don’t know how many times it’s been reported that I was pregnant,” she says. “I’m 43 years old and I’m thinking the rumors are going to stop at some point. With the three girls that Garth has, it’s a wonderful family, and I’m happy with that. So there is no pregnancy and no plans for a pregnancy.”
Even so being a “bonus mom” to Garth’s girls and as an aunt to her sister’s kids, Trisha appreciates the joys of parenthood. “Now I get it. I understand why people have children,” she says. “It adds something to your life that you can’t describe.”
Nevertheless, she’s content with her decision not to have kids. “I didn’t have children in the early part of my career because my mother was a working mom, but when she had us, she stayed home with us,” Trisha recalls. “She was a school teacher. She went back to work when I went to first grade. When I got out of school, she was out of school. I didn’t ever spend time at home by myself or with a babysitter. I wanted to be that kind of a mom or not be a mom at all. I never thought that [being a mother] was something I had to do someday to be complete. So I don’t see looking back and having regrets.”
Sitting down to talk with Trisha is like having a good conversation with a girlfriend. She’s honest, open and has a wicked sense of humor—-just the kind of gal anyone would want to hang with on a day off, but days off for Trisha are few and far between. When she does have a few moments to herself, she loves a good massage. “That’s probably my favorite indulgence,” she says. “I don’t do very many things for myself. I’m not a manicure/pedicure gal. I don’t do any of that kind of stuff, but I love massage. I carry all my stress in my neck and shoulders.”
Though some women find shopping therapeutic, Trisha admits she’s not much of a shopper. “If I’m going to go shopping, probably a great way for me to splurge is to go spend a couple hours at Target to see what they have going on,” she says.
Trisha and Garth moved into a new house last December, and unlike many celebrities, there’s no staff that cooks and cleans. So she does her own cleaning and laundry? “Well yeah,” she says with a laugh. “And I go to the grocery store. We do have a couple that comes in once a week and helps a little bit, but still the majority of work is left to us. I think it’s because that’s the way both of us were raised. I don’t feel comfortable asking somebody to do my dirty laundry or asking somebody to do the things I should be doing.”
Whether she’s recording a hit record, hiking with Garth around their ranch, cheering proudly at a soccer game or making chicken salad, Trisha approaches everything with equal enthusiasm. “It’s the best of both worlds,” she says of family life in Oklahoma and her globe-trotting career. “I really enjoy my life. I enjoy getting to go be Trisha Yearwood in Nashville. It’s exciting to get to do this, but also to know that there’s something more important at home.”
This is a great time in her life and she’s totally content. After years of friendship, she’s married to the love of her life. “I couldn’t be any happier,” she declares. “We look forward to the future. The thought of getting older really doesn’t scare me. The thought of getting older with him is exciting.”
Trisha’s Latest Music
Here are the songs on Trisha’s new Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love CD:
- “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.”
- “This Is Me Your Talking To”
- “The Call It Falling for a Reason”
- “Nothin’ ‘Bout Memphis”
- “We Tried”
- “Let the Wind Chase You”
- “Dreaming Fields”
- “Cowboys Are My Weakness”
- “Help Me”
- “Not A Bad Thing”
- “Nothin’ About You Is Good for Me”
- “Drown Me”
- “Sing You Back To Me”