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Published: 7/31/2008

Julie Roberts second act: Country singer plans to put her heart in new album

BY BRIAN DUGGER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Julie Roberts will be performing at 8:45 p.m. tomorrow at the Smoke on the Water  Ribs for the Red Cross event at Promenade Park. Local and national BBQ vendors will be on site. Admission is $3. Children 12 and under are free. Admission on Friday is free before 5 p.m. Julie Roberts will be performing at 8:45 p.m. tomorrow at the Smoke on the Water Ribs for the Red Cross event at Promenade Park. Local and national BBQ vendors will be on site. Admission is $3. Children 12 and under are free. Admission on Friday is free before 5 p.m.
DANNY CLINCH HANDOUT NOT BLADE / DANNY CLINCH HANDOUT NOT BLADE Enlarge

Every once in a while life smacks you upside the head. Julie Roberts got smacked upside the head. Amazingly, she s OK with that.

Roberts was one of the most talked about new artists in Nashville in 2004 after releasing Break Down Here. The hit was a spark for her self-titled debut album, sending it to gold status with sales of more than 500,000 copies.

The song was special, but it was her story that captivated country fans. She was the assistant to Mercury Records label head Luke Lewis, who didn t even know she could sing. When he heard a demo of a female singer, he fell in love with her voice. Turns out it was Roberts voice.

Unfortunately for Roberts, the momentum generated by her first album didn t carry over to her sophomore album, Men & Mascara, which failed to chart a single.

I feel like I did what I could do. Sometimes your stars line up, she said in a telephone interview. I try not to get down about it. In my mind, I made a great record. I have a lot of faith that this is what I m supposed to do.

She s not blaming anyone.

You always want to be at the top of the charts, especially when this is your life, and it s what you live for, she says. You might not know now, but a year from now, something great might happen, and it will all make sense.

If anything, stepping back from the spotlight has had some benefits. She s been able to catch up with her family, which was almost impossible a couple years ago.

She s been working out a lot and taking acting lessons. She hints that there could be something breaking on the acting front in the near future. Right now you can see her on the front of Red Baron pizza boxes. The company is sponsoring a sweepstakes and a private concert with Roberts is the grand prize.

More importantly, the slowdown in her career has allowed her to focus on what she really loves to do write music.

I m working really hard on my next album. I m writing most of it and making sure it s something I can be proud of.

This time around, she s working with producer Marcus Hummon, who s best known for writing Rascal Flatts No. 1 hit God Bless the Broken Road. If the schedule works out right, she should have a new song on radio by the end of the year, and the album should be in stores by the first part of next year.

She s particularly excited about Mamma Said Don t, a song she wrote that can be heard on her MySpace page, www.myspace.com/julieroberts.

I always have a mama song on my records because she s so close to me. It s a true story about mama telling you not to do something and you do it anyway. In the second verse, it talks about this guy I dated in high school. She said he was wrong for me. She was right.

Is she a little anxious about getting back on radio? Sure. Is the South Carolina native losing sleep over it? Nah.

I just think the music is going to speak for itself. If you know of a book that has guidelines for the 10 ways to get on the radio, let me know, she said, chuckling. I really believe this is what my destiny is. I m going to do my part and work hard. I don t see myself doing anything else. This is why I moved to Nashville.

Julie Roberts will be performing at 8:45 p.m. tomorrow at the Smoke on the Water Ribs for the Red Cross event at Promenade Park. Local and national BBQ vendors will be on site. Admission is $3. Children 12 and under are free. Admission on Friday is free before 5 p.m.

Contact Brian Dugger at:bdugger@theblade.com.



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