Neal McCoy's brand of neo-traditionalist honky tonk brought him a string of hits in the mid-'90s. McCoy was born Hubert Neal McGaughey, Jr. in Jacksonville, Texas, to a father of Irish descent and a Filipino mother. He grew up listening to all kinds of music -- country, swing, rock, disco, R&B -- and first sang in local gospel choirs. His voice developed into a rich baritone, and he first put it to professional use in an R&B band; soon, however, he returned to country music, playing bars and clubs all over Texas. In 1981, he won a talent contest that was attended by Janie Fricke, and she helped him land a slot on tour as Charley Pride's opening act. He spent six years in that capacity, and finally left to pursue his own recording career in 1988, when he released his debut single, "That's How Much I Love You," under the name Neal McGoy (the pronunciation of his birth name). Modifying it to the more common McCoy, he released his debut album, At This Moment, on Atlantic in 1990. Despite McCoy's growing reputation for exciting, freewheeling live shows, neither it nor the follow-up, 1992's Where Forever Begins, sold all that well.