Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Mandy Moore has just released a new album and is looking forward to two major movie roles in the coming year. Not bad for a burgeoning artist -- but considering she is only 19, the agenda is remarkable.

And, like most 19-year-olds, Moore is growing up and venturing out -- personally and musically.

Her third Epic album, "Coverage," a collection of 12 cover songs, is a coming-out of sorts for the singer/actress. In fact, the Oct. 21 release is such a personal statement that she vowed to record it on her own.

"I just kind of went and did it," she says with a laugh. "The label knew I was in the studio; they just didn't know what kind of record I was making. I was apprehensive about the concept and wasn't sure they would like the idea."

Moore admits that an album of covers from an artist who hasn't worked in the music world too long was risky. But she says, "I felt passionate, so I wanted to finish it and present it complete so people couldn't say, 'Maybe you should have done that song or this song.' "

The idea is to introduce the covers to an audience that -- given Moore's primary audience of teens and pre-teens - -may not have been born when most were originally recorded. The first single is a cover of John Hiatt's "Have a Little Faith in Me," which Moore says turned into another statement of sorts for her.

"'Have a Little Faith' was the last song I recorded, and I was so nervous because the original is so wonderful," she says. "I wasn't sure with half the songs if I was ready to tread that ground, but with this one, I discovered parts of my voice that I never had before. So 'Have a Little Faith in Me' is a testament to that."

Moore contends that she is not worried about comparisons of her interpretations with those of the original artists, having tackled songs by such heavyweights as Joan Armatrading ("Drop the Pilot"), Cat Stevens ("Moonshadow"), Blondie ("One Way or Another") and Joni Mitchell ("Help Me").

"It's for people to decide what I add to these songs, not me," she reflects. "I just wanted to sing them. The songs are all genius and perfect to begin with, so I didn't feel the need to do something completely different. I wanted to hold true to the songs."

The album was recorded in a garage studio behind producer John Fields' house, which she says was a priceless experience.

"It is the first album that has my complete, 100% stamp of approval," she says. "I love the last record, but this was my passion and my pet project. It was a collaborative process with John Fields. On this one, as a person and an artist, I found my voice.

"I paid for the record; I wanted to go out on that limb," she says. "It was so low-key, it wasn't an $8,000-a-day studio, which gave us a chance to explore without a lot of pressure."

Moore will promote the record until early next year, when she returns to the movies. "Saved" and an untitled film will be released in 2004, and she is looking at new scripts.

So what's the ultimate goal?

"Family. My work is not my life; my family is my life. I have to make time for it all, and I've been so lucky that I have been able to so far. As for my career, you don't have to decide whether to be an actress or a singer anymore. I'm a bit of both, and I'm having the time of my life."





Excerpted from the Nov. 1, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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