, Mississippi (PressExposure) May 01, 2009 -- Toby Keith is considered by many as an American patriot. The country and western star has seen his share of ups and downs and adversity. He's got one of those stories that could inspire any American to never give up on dreams.
At a very early age, Toby Keith dreamed of being a country and western singer. His first guitar was given to him at age eight. For nearly 15 years after graduating high school in Moore, Oklahoma, Keith worked as an oil derrick, semi-pro football player in Oklahoma City, and a singer in a honky-tonk band, while trying to support a family. He promised himself and his wife Tricia that he would give up if he didn't become a star in the music business by the age of thirty so after completely striking out in Nashville he returned to Oklahoma. Little did he know that one of his fans had given one of his demos to Harold Shedd, an executive at Mercury Records, and in no time he was signed to a recording contract. His debut single in 1993, "Should've Been A Cowboy," went to number one on the country charts and Keith's self-titled album went platinum that same year.
On March 21, 2001 Keith's father, H.K. Covel was killed in a car accident. Because of his father's passionate American patriotism and the U.S. attacks on September 11, 2001, Keith felt compelled to write a song called, "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue." This song has been considered patriotic by many but not without controversy. He refused to record the song because it was a special song he would only perform for soldiers during USO concerts but Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps James L. Jones told him that it was his duty to record the song so every American could hear it.
Peter Jennings of ABC vetoed the song from a television special on the fourth of July in 2002. Keith was surprised and noted that Jennings was not even an American, which was correct since Jennings is actually a native Canadian. Nevertheless, the song peaked at number one on the music charts during the weekend of July 4, 2002.
In 2003, Dixie Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines, began a feud with Toby Keith because of "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," saying that the song makes country music sound ignorant. Of course, the Dixie Chicks were criticizing President George Bush at the same time, which may have bothered Keith more that any person remarks. In response, a backdrop at one of Keith's concerts showed a manufactured picture of Maines with then Iraqi leader, Sadaam Hussein. This prompted Maines to wear a t-shirt at the Academy of Country Music Awards with the letters, "FUTK." Initially the Dixie Chicks lead-singer said the letters stood for "Friends United in Truth and Kindness." This was apparently neither kind nor truthful. In a confession by Maines on Real Time with Bill Maher she admitted it was actually a shot at Toby Keith.