Lee Ann Womack (born August 19, 1966) is an American country music singer and songwriter. Her 2000 single, "I Hope You Dance" was a major crossover music hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart and the Top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her signature song. When Womack emerged as a contemporary country artist in 1997, her material resembled that of Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, except for the way Womack's music mixed an old fashioned style with contemporary elements. Her 2000 album I Hope You Dance had an entirely different sound, using pop music elements instead of traditional country. It was not until the release of There's More Where That Came From in 2005 that Womack returned to recording traditional country music. After a hiatus in 2008, Womack returned in 2014 with a new album (The Way I'm Livin') and a new sound which blended country and Americana. Womack has released a total of six studio albums and two compilations. Four of her studio albums have received a Gold certification or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America. Additionally, she has received five Academy of Country Music Awards, six Country Music Association Awards, and a Grammy Award. She has sold over 6 million albums worldwide. Womack is the wife of record producer Frank Liddell, and ex-wife of songwriter and musician Jason Sellers; her daughter with the latter, Aubrie Sellers, is also a country music artist. Early life Womack was born and raised in Jacksonville, Texas. At an early age, she was interested in country music. Her father, a disc jockey, often took his daughter to work with him to help choose records to play on the air. Womack was the second of two daughters. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father was also a high school principal. As a child, Womack studied the piano and later graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1984. After graduating, Womack attended South Plains Junior College in Levelland, Texas. The college was one of the first in the nation to offer country music degrees, and soon she became a member of the college band, Country Caravan. A year later, she left the college and after an agreement with her parents, Womack enrolled at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she studied the commercial ways of the music business. In Nashville, she interned at the A&R department of MCA Records. She studied at the college until 1990, leaving the school a year before graduation. Womack spent a few years raising her children before reentering the music business in the mid 90s. In 1995 she began performing her music in songwriting demos and at showcase concerts. At one of these showcase concerts, she was spotted by Tree Publishings, who signed her after listening to one of her original demo recordings. Womack wrote songs with some popular Nashville songwriters, including Bill Anderson and Ricky Skaggs, who recorded her composition, "I Don't Remember Forgetting" for one of his albums. After divorcing her first husband around that time, Womack decided to pursue a career as a country music artist. She auditioned for MCA chairman, Bruce Hinton, who praised her talents. Shortly afterward, she accepted a contract from MCA's sister record company, Decca Nashville in 1996.
What makes listeners feel more like participants in the songs than simply admirers of the songs?