05/14/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT
Last Jan. 7 was a hair-raising day for Faith Hill
. When she strode onstage to collect her People's Choice Award for favorite female musical performer, gone were her sensuous soft blonde tresses. In their place: short, shaggy locks seemingly dyed to match the platinum status of each of her four albums.
The new do, which the 33-year-old Hill acquired from L.A. stylist Peter Savic just hours before the awards show, disappointed many of her fans. Even Hill's husband, country star Tim McGraw
, 34, seemed conflicted. "I loved the cut better than the color," he says. But it wasn't the end of the world for Hill, who's now growing it back. "I really felt like it was just a haircut," she says.
Maybe so. But to some observers Hill's willingness to try what designer pal Richard Tyler calls a "sexy, edgy, rock and roll" style is just the latest step in her evolution from small-town girl-she was raised in Star, Miss. (pop. 500)—to singing sophisticate. "She's not afraid to change," Tyler says.
And why should she be? Not only is Hill one of country music's hottest properties—in February she added three Grammys to her collection of awards—but at the end of the day she returns to her six-bedroom colonial-style home outside Nashville, where she lives with McGraw and their daughters Gracie, 4, and Maggie, 2. Despite the couple's high-gear careers, they have a pact not to be apart for more than three days at a time, a deal that was easy to keep last year when they embarked on a sold-out 42-city U.S. concert tour together.
Finding family time is certainly more of a priority for the 5'9" Cover Girl model than finding time at the dressing table. At home Hill knocks around in "a great pair of worn jeans or my pj's," and she opts for little adornment beyond La Mer's face and eye creams. "I don't like to wear makeup unless I absolutely have to," she says. Exercise is also something of an afterthought. "It's hard to fit into my schedule, but I've started doing yoga," says the singer, who tries to work out three times a week.
The real key to her beauty philosophy, however, is personal fulfillment. Being a mother, Hill says, kicks up her confidence level—a real plus "when it's time to put on the glam." Or to try out a new hairstyle.