From Tim McGraw To Shania Twain: Country Music’s Sober Stars Rise

By Kelly Burch 05/08/19

Some of the biggest names in country music share their reasons for getting sober.

Tim McGraw

Country crooners love to sing about beer and whiskey, but it’s becoming more and more common for the genre's biggest stars to talk openly about their sobriety. 

One of country’s biggest names, Tim McGraw, has been sober since 2008. 

"I got to a point in my career, where it was either time to give up, not try to be the best you can be moving forward or try to be the best that you can be," he told The Boot. His wife, fellow country star Faith Hill, told him it was time to put the alcohol aside and stop drinking before shows. 

"I was at a crossroads in my life on all fronts: I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to be around for my kids, I wanted to be a better husband and a better father, I wanted to take care of myself mentally and physically, and I wanted to get the most out of my career that I could get out of my career,” McGraw said. 

Keith Urban also got sober at the prompting of his famous wife, Nicole Kidman, who staged an intervention. He has now been sober for 13 years and wishes he had stopped drinking sooner.

“It’s something I needed because I’m alcoholically wired,” Urban said. “I wish I’d gotten sober many years earlier than I did, but it is what it is.”

Urban later helped Brantley Gilbert navigate early sobriety. 

"I remember him telling me, 'Hey man, it’s gonna be scary, it’s gonna freak you out, but it’s gonna be beautiful,'" Gilbert said. 

Even the artists who sing about drinking the most are no longer imbibing. Brad Paisley is behind the hit song “Alcohol,” but he is sober, and Chris Janson sings the hit song “Fix A Drink,” but he stays away from alcohol too. However, in the past, Janson did rely on alcohol to fix his troubles. 

“I can relate because not so long ago I was that guy, I totally get it... I’ve drank a lot of beer in my life, and whatever problems I had walking in, they were gone by 10,” he said. 

Although he didn’t have a full-blown drinking problem, he said that alcohol kept him from feeling his best. 

“I just choose not to because it always made me feel bloated and fat—I’m 135 pounds, so 10 beers makes me feel like a balloon, man,” he said. 

Powerhouse vocalist Shania Twain also stays away from alcohol for health reasons, she wrote in her biography. 

“I like a clean band. I don’t like drugs. I don’t like alcohol,” she said. “I like to have clean-living people around me.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.