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.