Country music, more than other genres, is known for powerful lyrics about painful subjects. Whether you’re experiencing a broken heart, the loss of a job, or a moment of personal doubt, there’s a song out there explaining your pain. The songwriters have seemingly felt it all before and poured that emotion out onto the page.

Alan Jackson is one of the biggest country musicians around, so you know that he’s felt his share of pain. But even he couldn’t find the right words to help him cope with the struggle of losing the person that meant the most to him.

Jackson was born to a big family in Newnan, Georgia. He grew up alongside his parents and four siblings in a house that was built around his grandfather’s old tool shed. But as Jackson got older, his eyes turned elsewhere.

Alan Jackson/ Facebook

He had dreams of making it as a star and, for all its love, his family home wasn’t a musical mecca. One day, however, his wife Denise had a chance encounter that changed everything.

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She was working as a flight attendant and met musician and TV host Glen Campbell in the airport. When she explained her husband’s dream, Campbell slipped her a business card.

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Campbell recommended that Jackson try his luck in Nashville, the home of the country music industry. It was a good idea, but the family couldn’t just pack up and move on a whim. Campbell, though, had something else to share…

The number on the card wasn’t his, but that of Marty Gamblin, a local music executive. Maybe he could help. Alan reached out and, two weeks later, he was heading to Tennessee for a meeting.

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During the meeting, Gamblin offered to hire Jackson as a staff songwriter for Glen Campbell Music. He also would serve as the young musician’s new manager. Jackson quickly accepted, and he and his wife relocated to Tennessee.

Taste of Country

After that, Jackson’s star rose to country’s highest heights. He sold over 80 million records, taken home two Grammys, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But Alan was focused on something more important.

The Boot

Ever the humble man, Jackson doesn’t care much for fame; he’s still the same guy he always was, sporting jeans, a cowboy hat, and a mustache. There’s one thing that he will always fight for, however.


His family. After growing up with four siblings, Jackson and his wife had three daughters of their own. As a devoted dad, Alan was obviously interested when his oldest daughter, Mattie, mentioned meeting a new man.

Alan Jackson/ Instagram

At a friend’s wedding, Mattie danced with a cute stranger who introduced himself as Samuel Benton Selecman, called Ben by his friends. After that evening, however, the pair went their separate ways without a second thought.

Mattie Jackson Selecman/ Instagram

A couple of years later, however, they met again. Ben was working for a judge in Nashville and still remembered Mattie. He kept asking her out, and she eventually agreed to go on a date with him. From there, the couple never looked back.

Mattie Jackson Selecman/ Instagram

A relationship quickly bloomed and future plans were made. In October 2017, Mattie and Ben decided to officially tie the knot. There was going to be a new member of the Jackson clan.

Mattie Jackson Selecman/ Instagram

Mattie made sure every detail of the ceremony was perfect, from the green and gray color scheme to the specific bottle of 2006 Tattinger’s Comtes de Champagne they popped in celebration. And the proud father had a special contribution to make too, too.

Mattie Jackson Selecman/ Instagram

During the reception, Jackson removed his tie and donned his signature cowboy hat for a special performance. He sang “Blue Blooded Woman,” one of his first major hits, as his daughter and her groom danced the night away.

After the ceremony and honeymoon, Mattie and Ben settled back into everyday life. The latter graduated from law school and accepted a job as the assistant district attorney in the Davidson County DA’s office when he decided to take a trip to Florida.

Mattie Jackson Selecman/ Instagram

Ben was in Palm Beach County when he helped a woman climb from the dock onto her boat. He lost his footing and fell into the water. Something terrible happened below the surface.

Ben had hit his head during the fall, sustaining fatal injuries. He would be taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Palm Beach, where he died with Mattie by his side.

Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post

Understandably everyone was shaken. Mattie, whose wedding seemed like yesterday, was now a widow. Jackson was crushed by the loss and his beloved daughter’s unimaginable pain. The singer took to the Internet, asking for “prayers during this difficult time.”

Mattie Jackson Selecman/ Instagram

But any country music fan can tell you that pain is never the end of the story. Instead, it often serves as a catalyst to do something greater. And the Jacksons proved that to be true.

Mattie used her loss as inspiration to co-found NaSHEVille, an organization dedicated to bringing women together while helping human trafficking victims, widows, and orphans. Her dad took special pride in the venture.

Alan Jackson/ Instagram

As a man with intimate knowledge of struggle and pain, Jackson was proud to see Mattie “turning their great pain into a great purpose.” While they still miss Ben everyday, they used his loss as a means to a greater good.

Mattie Jackson Selecman/ Instagram

It’s no coincidence that country stars all seem to have some great tragedy in their lives; their songs are fueled by powerful emotions. Faith Hill his is no exception. The country goddess has a story that rivals Alan Jackson’s.

She grew up in Mississippi, though, back then, she went by the name Audrey Faith Perry. Her mom, Edna, was a bank teller, her dad, Ted, a factory worker. They had a modest life, but the Perrys were a happy family.

Faith Hill / Instagram

From the beginning, Faith’s parents were open about her having been adopted. She may not have been biologically their child, but that didn’t matter. She was theirs, just the same as their two biological sons.

Faith Hill / Instagram

In fact, the Perrys had desperately wanted a daughter. Turning to a doctor friend for help, he promised to let them know if a little girl became available for adoption. Soon they got the call and little Faith joined the family!

Faith Hill / Instagram

But growing up, Faith felt compelled to know more about her roots. She said in an interview, “I didn’t know anyone I was related to, biologically, which gives you a sense of not knowing who you are.”

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When Faith questioned her mom and dad about her biological parents they told her a common story: Her birth mother had been having an affair with a married man and became pregnant, so she gave her baby up for adoption. Still, Faith had lingering questions…

Children’s Colorado

This sense of not quite belonging was a big connection Faith shared with her future husband, Tim McGraw. Besides their love of music, they both had complicated family histories.


Faith was raised by a loving family but always suspected there was more to her adoption story than she’d been told; Tim, meanwhile, had a more chaotic childhood. He’d experienced abuse from the man he believed to be his father, Horace Smith.

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Then when he was 11 years old, Tim discovered his birth certificate. In the space listed for the father’s name, his dad, the man who mistreated him, wasn’t listed. Instead, there was another name in his place: baseball player Tug McGraw.

Sports Illustrated

Turns out Tim’s mother had a brief relationship with the baseball star, and it resulted in a pregnancy. Tug wasn’t interested in fatherhood, and Tim’s mother kept the secret. In later years, they reconnected. Tug even lived with his son during the final year of his life.

One Country

Just like her future husband, Faith sought out answers on her own. As Faith’s musical talent became more evident, she was more and more curious about her birth parents. Had they been talented singers too? She daydreamed about being Elvis’ long lost daughter.

Faith Hill / Instagram

When she was old enough, Faith moved to Nashville to pursue her dreams of being a country superstar, but that wasn’t her only plan. Living on her own for the first time, Faith pursued the truth, tracking down her birth parents.

Photo Nurt / Flickr

After years of wondering, Faith discovered that her birth mother was a woman named Paula Conway. She was 23 years old when Faith was born, and she was alive and well. But that’s not the only thing she learned…

Kevin Dern / Flickr

The narrative she’d held close all her life about her birth parents was false. Paula Conway hadn’t gotten pregnant as a result of an affair: she and her boyfriend Edwin White — her eventual husband — were just too young and unprepared for a child.

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Her birth parents even had another child. Faith had a brother, named Zachary. Her birth father, Edwin, tragically passed away in a car accident when Faith was ten years old.

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As far as musical gifts, Faith was the lone singer in the family. Though some of her artistic nature could be inherited from her parents, as her birth mother Paula was a talented painter.

Sounds Like Nashvile

Even with her family history revealed, Faith didn’t pursue a close relationship with her birth mother. She didn’t hold grudges either. In an interview she sympathized with the tough decision: “I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give me what she felt was a better chance.”


Tragically, in 2007 her birth mother Paula passed away. At that point, Faith and her biological mom had reconnected and just started to get to know one another. Faith mourned the chance to get to know her better, but was happy they had finally met.

Jordi Boixareu / Flickr

It’s never been publicly addressed why Faith’s parents kept the truth hidden from her, but it’s clear their intentions were always to do what was best for their daughter. “The most important thing to me is my family, and that was definitely taught from my mom and dad.”

Faith Hill / Instagram

Now, the happy couple walks the walk! Faith and Tim have one of the longest marriages in showbiz, and their obvious love for each other has cemented them in the country universe. The binding force that keeps them together after twenty years is no secret.

Faith Hill / Instagram

The singing duo put their family first. Even their careers are intertwined! They tour as a couple in an attempt to keep as much stability as possible. Not only for their marriage but for their three daughters, too. They might be famous, but much like all of us, it’s their pasts that connect them and keep them strong.

Faith Hill / Instagram

They might be famous, but much like all of us, it’s their pasts that connect them and keep them strong. And they aren’t the only celebs who know that parental love can come from any source.

John Lennon: This Beatle didn’t exactly have a cookie-cutter life growing up. John’s father was a sea merchant who was gone during his birth, and his mother left them both. Baby Lennon was taken in by his aunt and hardly saw his parents again.

Keegan-Michael Key: Funnily enough, Key was born to an interracial couple and was adopted by one as well. He has said that being mixed race is part of why he does sketch comedy. He always felt he was constantly switching roles.

Steve Jobs: There may have been a personal reason why Steve was so hungry for success: his adoptive parents were strict Calvinists, and his father was an abusive alcoholic. Jobs himself had four children.

Marilyn Monroe: With the identity of the father unknown, Marilyn’s mother Gladys placed her in foster care, where she bounced around for years. She eventually became a ward of the state when Gladys was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Eric Clapton: It was 1945, and Eric was born to a 16-year-old English girl and a 25-year-old Canadian soldier who was shipped off to war. For most of his life, Eric thought his actual grandparents were his mom and stepfather and his mother was his sister.

Nelson Mandela: The South African president’s father died of lung disease when Nelson was only 9, so he was raised by a tribe chief. He thought that he inherited his father’s “proud rebelliousness” and “stubborn sense of fairness.”

Ray Liotta: Since Ray always knew he was adopted, he did a show-and-tell report on his family for a kindergarten project. He found his biological mother in the 2000s, and she introduced him to one half-brother, five half-sisters, and a full sister.

Eleanor Roosevelt: After both of her parents died from diphtheria when she was 10 years old, she and her brother Hall were raised by their grandparents. Unfortunately, it left both children struggling with depression for years to come.

Bill Clinton: President Clinton’s biological father was a traveling salesman who had died in a car accident three months before Bill was born. His mother decided to study nursing shortly after Bill was born, so she left her son in the care of his grandparents.

Priscilla Presley: This actress’s biological father died in a plane crash when she was only six months old. Priscilla’s mother later remarried and pretended he was her father. Presley found out this family secret when she was looking through a keepsake box.

Snooki: Nicole Polizzi, better known as “Snooki,” was born in Santiago, Chile. She was adopted when she was six months old by Italian-American parents. When she took a DNA test she found out she had heritage from all around the world — except Chile!

Nancy Reagan: This former First Lady’s parents separated soon after she was born, and eventually divorced. After their separation, her mother traveled the country to become an actress, so Nancy was adopted and raised by her aunt and uncle for six years.

Nicole Richie: Look at Lionel Richie and Nicole’s mom Brenda Harvey-Richie and it’s fairly obvious Nicole was adopted. Her parents were friends of Lionel’s but couldn’t provide for her. After living with him for 6 years in her youth, he adopted her.

Ice-T: Our favorite rapper turned S.V.U. specialist had a rough childhood. His mom died of a heart attack when he was eight, and his father did the same when he was 12. He was mostly raised by his two aunts, which is how he ended up in L.A.

Michael Bay: Fortunately for this explosion enthusiast, he didn’t have a sad story about why he was adopted. It was all planned, and he moved in with his mom, a bookstore owner, and child psychologist, on the day he was born.

Frances McDormand: Along with two other siblings, Frances was adopted when she was one-and-a-half-years old by people from her biological parents’ church. Frances and her husband have paid it forward and adopted their son, Pedro, from Paraguay.

Lance Armstrong: After his parents divorced when he was two, Lance moved in with his mother who later got remarried to Terry Keith Armstrong. When Lance’s dad died, Terry offered to adopt him, and Lance was happy to take his last name.