Garth Brooks: How His Mom Paved the Way for His Country Music Career in Nashville

by Matthew Wilson
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It turns out that country singer Garth Brooks has country music in his blood. As the popular saying often goes, like parent, like child.

Before he was singing about “Friends in Low Places” or was even born, Brooks’ mother was a country music singer. The singer’s mother Colleen McElroy Carroll went by her stage name Colleen Carroll. During the 1950s, she signed at Capitol Records and performed songs on Ozark Jubilee.

She had some pretty famous singers back her up as well. For one, Jackie Gleason once acted as her back up singer. When Carroll had children, she made sure that they knew how to play music. Growing up, Brooks spent his weekends jamming with his family. His mother still had quite the singing voice.

“Friday and Saturday nights at the house, Jerry played guitar, Jim played the harmonica, Mike played guitar, Betsy played guitar, and, of course, Dad played guitar,” Brooks told Playboy. “Mom sang her butt off, Dad sang, Betsy sang, Jerry sang, Jim sang, Mike sang. Kelly and I played the wax comb.”

Garth Brooks Becomes a Country Music Star

Some of that music began to rub off on Brooks. As a teenager, singing and music no longer became a hobby. Brooks began to get serious about it as a craft. He learned how to play the banjo, for instance, adding the instrument to his repertoire. But Brooks still didn’t know that he wanted to make music a career.

At the time, high school sports were an equal fascination. The future country singer played football and baseball and also ran on the track and field team. He was so gifted in fact that his athletic abilities earned him a track scholarship to Oklahoma State University. It wasn’t until after college that Brooks decided to move to Nashville to pursue a music career. Perhaps, he was inspired by those early tales of his mother.

In the 1990s, Brooks became one of country music’s biggest superstars. After spending some time as a demo singer, Brooks released his first album and launched his career. Fortunately, his mother got to see his career take off and Brooks achieve a wider success than she ever dreamed.

But in 1999, Brooks’ mother died from throat cancer. Brooks thanked his mother for sharing her love for music with him and encouraging him to follow his dreams.

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