The daughter of country legend Mel Tillis, Pam Tillis made her own way in the music business, eventually becoming a contemporary country star in the '90s. Tillis was born on July 24, 1957, in Plant City, FL, but raised mostly in Nashville and started taking piano lessons at age eight. She switched to guitar at 12 and played in talent contests during her teenage years. Somewhat wild and rebellious, she survived a near-fatal car crash at age 16 that required extensive facial reconstruction. Fortunately, she recovered fully and pursued music aggressively at the University of Tennessee, singing with the High Country Swing Band (which played country-rock and jug band music) and in a folk duo with Ashley Cleveland. She quit school in 1976 and worked at her father's publishing company, placing her composition "I'll Meet You on the Other Side of the Morning" with Barbara Fairchild. She also formed her own backing band, which soon relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and renamed themselves Freelight; they developed an adventurous style based on jazz and rock, not country. Tillis returned to Nashville in 1979, though, and sang backup for her father while raising her first child as a single parent, fronting an R&B band, and continuing to write songs, a couple of which were recorded by Gloria Gaynor and Chaka Khan.