It's quite easy to map out the talents of successful singers: whether it's Carrie Underwood's endless range, Kacey Musgraves' clever wordplay or Luke Bryan's tight-jeaned dance moves, these are the skills that sell records, win Grammys or make the ladies swoon. But most of us possess a hidden talent, and musicians are no exception. From breakdancing to taekwondo, these are the varied — and at times surprising — abilities that country stars keep in their back pocket (or land on Johnny Cash's front yard).
This one's for the girls…and this one's for the floral centerpiece. McBride loves big ole country ballads as much as she loves big ole country bashes, and she's quite talented at executing both. In October, the "Independence Day" singer will release her first book, Around the Table, dedicated to the art of entertaining — which includes directions on how to host your own "Red Wine and Vinyl" party, complete with a playlist. For the record, McBride suggests Malbec, Neil Diamond and a nice Cheddar Cheesesteak Panini: haute hillbilly at its best.
Though Kristofferson infamously worked as a janitor at Columbia Studios, where he met Johnny Cash, the Rhodes scholar from a military family was also a helicopter pilot, both in the National Guard and for a commercial firm. Frustrated with his inability to get Cash to record one of his songs, he eventually took a bold route: landing a copter in his front yard. "He had beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other," Cash apparently said, though Kristofferson countered: "I said, 'John, you’ve got to have both hands and both feet when you’re flying a helicopter.'" Dierks Bentley and Tim McGraw are also pilots — though neither has ever landed unannounced in anyone's front yard, as far as we know.
"I can’t play tennis anymore," Kenny Rogers once told Men's Health, "since I’ve got no original body parts that work anymore." Only one clause in that statement is truly surprising — the part about the Gambler once batting balls on the green. But Rogers was actually a professional-level tennis player in his day, searching out courts at every tour stop for years and compiling a collection of racquets signed by the greats, which are currently on display at his Country Music Hall of Fame exhibition. "I developed a national ranking while I was on the road playing with Wimbledon champions," he told Rolling Stone Country. Rumor says his magical beard had power over his backswing.
The Platinum star has a dirty little bourgeois secret: when she rides horses, it's often with an — gasp! — English saddle. Though her spitfire image might conjure up thoughts of a pistol-wielding cowgirl digging her spurs in deep, Lambert rides the thoroughbreds she keeps at her Oklahoma ranch looking more fit for a chic polo match than a cattle call. She even had stallions along for her Rolling Stone cover shoot. "When I'm riding, it clears my head and I'm able to write better music," she once told Horse Channel. Well then saddle up, Sally.
The foot-in-mouth son of the legendary Hank Sr. knows how to find trouble, but it just so happens he also has a knack for unearthing long-lost treasures buried deep in the ground. Because if you're going to have your name dragged through the dirt, you might as well do it yourself, right? Williams loves searching for Civil War artifacts and once took Eric Church out on a mission — he even gives metal detectors as gifts. And though he might have once sung that "Angels Are Hard to Find," maybe that's because they're not made of metal.
Believe it or not, Colt Ford wasn't always Colt Ford — before he was hick-hopping on a "Dirt Road Anthem," he was Jason Farris Brown, a golfer with a strong swing and even a brief professional run on the national circuit. So why'd he trade 18 holes for multi-city tours? "I'm too fat and old to do anything else," he told ESPN. Guess Ford fans better hope he stays away from Jenny Craig.
"Ain't No Man" gonna separate Angaleena Presley from a game of Minecraft — when the Holler Annie isn't shooting venom with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe or working on her upcoming solo debut, she's sitting at a computer screen doing, well, whatever it is people do when playing Minecraft (something about putting stuff into boxes). "My mom is a crafter and my dad is a miner," she tells Rolling Stone Country, "so, needless to say, Minecraft is a natural fit for me." Coal miner's daughter, Mine-crafters daughter: same thing, really?
The Vero Beach, Florida, native may have once wanted to hide his Sunshine State roots, but it's clear Owen's "Beachin'" tendencies run deep. Before he was a country star, he was a wakeboarding enthusiast, hitting the waves with his brunette locks a-flowin', proving that he — and his deltoids — belong on the water. Strangely enough, Owen can credit an accident while boarding for his Nashville career — sidelined from playing golf, for which he had a scholarship, he picked up the guitar to ease his depression. Sliding doors, brah.
Wariner may be famous for his fingerpicking guitar technique (he's one of only four players in the world bestowed with the "Certified Guitar Player" title by the legendary Chet Atkins) but the Grammy winner and Opry member also has a talent for the brush, cranking out collections of delicate watercolors. Displaying his work in an exhibition last year at the Tennessee State Museum, Wariner had actually hoped to be a painter before being discovered by Dottie West. "Watercolors have always been my favorite medium to dabble in," Wariner has said. "I just love the freedom, looseness and the spontaneity of it."
With his signature silver hair and twang-rockabilly style, Stuart's subdued, emotive photographs are a change of pace from you might expect the "Hillbilly Rock" singer to snap. But his eye is a delicate one — take his photo of friend Johnny Cash, from a few days before the Man in Black passed: it's a lonesome, knowing stare in stark black-and-white. Currently on display at Nashville's Frist Museum, his work is well deserving of many fabulous superlatives.
"He's working on a third black belt, but he's kind of cheating," Nelson's wife Annie told Rolling Stone about her husband's habit — no, not that habit, the one that has him wearing white robes and bare feet, not rolling white papers. The Red Headed Stranger took up the martial art seriously over 20 years ago with the Austin-based Master Sum Um, and even had a role in Um's 2007 kung fu film Fighting With Anger. “The man has great discipline,” Um told the Houston Chronicle. “He shows up on time and he’s always ready to train.” See — stoners aren't always late.
Before the American Idol contestant sang about "Red High Heels," the thing most often adorning her feet were a pair of roller skates. Growing up in North Carolina, Pickler was a waitress-on-wheels at her local Sonic Drive-In, agile skills she later translated into a championship run on Dancing with the Stars. Apparently you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you sure can roller skate with cheeseburgers.
Though Young's "Aw Naw" once inspired its own line-dance routine (Half pivot! Shuffle! Half pivot! Shuffle again!), it's the Nashville Star champion's considerable skills (or shall we say "skillz"?) in a different department that really raise some eyebrows: his breakdancing. While he may not win a role in the reprise of Flashdance anytime soon, the country crooner proves that, why yes, you can drop a Toprock to Baby Freeze… in cowboy boots.