Toby Keith is an American country music singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer. Known professionally by his given names, Keith released his first four studio albums—1993’s Toby Keith, 1994’s Boomtown, 1996’s Blue Moon, and 1997’s Dream Walkin’, plus a Greatest Hits package—for various divisions of Mercury Records before leaving Mercury in 1998.
Keith moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in the early ’90s and busked on Music Row and at a bar called Houndogs there. He sent out copies of the band’s demo tape to all of the city’s record labels.
Keith came home disheartened when no record labels expressed an interest in signing him. If he didn’t get an album deal by the time he was 30 years old, he’d have to give up on music.
Harold Shedd, a Mercury Records executive, received a copy of Keith’s demo tape from a flight attendant who was a fan and a fellow traveler.
Having been impressed by Keith’s recordings, Shedd went to see him perform in person before offering the young musician his first Mercury recording contract after being impressed by his live performance.
In 1993, Keith’s debut single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in the United States and peaked at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.
The first single from his debut album was this song. “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” became the most-played country song of the 1990s after receiving more than three million radio plays by the end of the decade.
Toby Keith Parents: Meet Hubert Keith Covel and Carolyn Joan Covel
Toby Keith was born to his parents Hubert Keith Covel (father) and Carolyn Joan Covel (mother). When Keith was still a small child, his family relocated from Fort Smith, Arkansas, where they had been living for a few years when he was attending elementary school, to Moore, Oklahoma, which is a suburb of Oklahoma City.
Before his family relocated to Moore, he would spend the summers traveling to Fort Smith to spend time with his grandma.