Eighteen years ago today (July 8, 2000) was one of the biggest days of Lee Ann Womack's career. That was the date on which her single "I Hope You Dance" landed at the top of the Billboard country charts, where it stayed for an astonishing six weeks.

"I Hope You Dance," which was written by Tia Sillers and Mark D. Sanders, was the result of a personal heartbreak: "I had just broken up with someone, going through a brutal divorce," Sillers recalls to Songwriter Universe.

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"I needed to get away, so I went to a beach on the Florida Gulf Coast. Sitting on the beach and reflecting about the breakup, I felt so small and inconsequential. But out of this difficult time came the inspiration to write "I Hope You Dance,"" Sillers continues. "As I was leaving the beach, I remember thinking that things weren't really so bad, that I would get through it. That's when I came up with the line 'I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.'"

"I Hope You Dance" was a favorite of the late poet and author Maya Angelou, whom Womack had the privilege of meeting once. The singer was invited to perform the song at Angelou's funeral service.

“All these years later, the song remained?" Womack says. "That says so much about the power of music and poetry: the way the human condition can be filtered down in a song. Keeping it real and honest but also maintaining the love in your heart and compassion ... That makes for an excellent life, and that’s what I think Maya Angelou found in the song.”

"I Hope You Dance" was the debut single from and title track of Womack's third studio album, which has sold more than 3 million copies. The song earned her multiple awards, including a CMA for Single of the Year; it is available for download on iTunes.

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