Considering that Tim McGraw has released ten number-one country albums, won more than a handful of industry awards (including three Grammys), sold out arenas across the country and embarked on the highest-grossing tour in country music history, it's hard to believe that he could have ever doubted his talent as a musician. But that's exactly what happened after one particularly memorable studio session with an opinionated producer.
As McGraw tells "Oprah's Master Class," he was a relatively new artist recording tracks and already felt that something was a little "off" about his sound.
"[I was]singing over and over and over again, and not really thinking I got it right," McGraw says. "I wasn't really liking the songs we were recording."
After the session, McGraw and the producer went to dinner together, where the producer shared his brutally honest assessment of McGraw's studio performance.
"He goes, 'You know, you're a nice guy... But I don't think this is for you... Unless you want to find another part of this business you want to work in, you [maybe] should not be involved in being a singer,'" McGraw recalls.
He can chuckle about that comment now, but at the time, McGraw was concerned.
"At first, I believed him," he says. "[I was] questioning myself and questioning whether I should do this anymore."
McGraw's passion for music, however, outweighed his self-doubt. "I didn't want to do anything else," he says. "I couldn't imagine what else I would do."
Rather than giving up on his dream, McGraw took a different approach. "We didn't work together anymore," he says of that producer. "The label sort of just stopped paying attention to anything I did. I figured I was about to lose my record deal."
Thinking about his future -- "I probably had $150 left to my name." -- McGraw knew he had to refocus his efforts to get his career on track. All he had at his disposal was his talent and his musician friends. So, he joined them together.
"I got all these musicians together and I said, 'Look, I want to do a show down at this place called Diamond-N-the-Ruff.' It was a little bar that was [in] downtown Nashville," McGraw says. "We learned all these songs and I sent out letters to all these different producers and record labels and everybody all over town."
The effort paid off, as a different producer took notice. "Byron Gallimore, he said he wanted to work with me," McGraw says. "That's how I really started getting my confidence back."
Together, Gallimore and McGraw worked on more than a dozen success albums, several of which have been recognized with awards from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. The arc from self-doubting artist to country music superstar taught McGraw a valuable life lesson about the power of belief over doubt.
"You got to make yourself go forward. You have to make yourself push through," he says. "There's always that doubt that drives you forward. I wasn't going to let the doubt overcome the belief that I had and what I could do."
Profound moments of belief can happen in all types of circumstances. This month, Oprah Winfrey presents "Belief," a seven-night series that searches for the heart of what really matters through journeys to the far reaches of the world and places cameras have rarely been.
"Belief" premieres Sunday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. ET on OWN.
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