EW Staff
June 25, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

AGE 25
MUSTWORTHINESS Roberts’ self-titled debut answers the question ”What if Faith Hill made a country album again?” Except you need to imagine a much bluesier Hill; Roberts’ weathered-sounding soulfulness is at odds with her innocent demeanor. ”When I sing, I’m not Julie,” says the small-town South Carolinian. ”I become somebody else for those three minutes, and most of the time it’s my mom. A lot of the stories in these songs, she’s lived.”
OFFICE UP THE TRUTH Roberts worked for Mercury Nashville for three years, including a stint as the assistant to CEO Luke Lewis — but never told him she was a singer. (”I didn’t want to get fired!”) When producer Brent Rowan played her demos for her boss, Lewis took a shine to the anonymous singer, only to find she was right outside his door.
NEXT A CMT special airs this month.

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