Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Making the transition from cute singing teen act to adult recording artist with a serious career is no easy feat. Brenda Lee, Tanya Tucker, and LeAnn Rimes are among the notables who successfully made that leap. These days, it's looking as though Jessica Andrews may be earning a place on that short, prestigious list.
Her third DreamWorks Records album, "Now," debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and at No. 34 on The Billboard 200. The project has sold 84,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In her short career, Andrews has already seen eight singles reach Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. Her biggest hit, "Who I Am," spent three weeks at No. 1 in 2001. Her current single, "There's More to Me Than You," just moved from 20-18 the tally.
Andrews is pleased with the reception her new music is getting. "My goal from the beginning wasn't to be the next young thing," says Andrews, now 19. "I didn't want to just have one hit. My goal is longevity. I have a really great team of people behind me -- my record label and [RPM] management. Our goal was to really be serious about what we were doing and not have people perceive me as a novelty in any way. I'll be glad when the day comes where I don't have to be associated with age."
During the course of three albums, Andrews' look has changed from long brown hair to long blonde hair to her current short, dark 'do. She has also tried to ensure country consumers have identified her and her music along with her changing appearance.
"I think my core audience knows my music very well," she says. "People do identify me with how I sing and the songs I choose. In the beginning, that may not have been the case, but now I think I've established myself where I can stretch out and try new things, image-wise and musically."
Andrews says she took a year off to concentrate on making the new album. During that time, she moved into her own home and began seriously dating Mercury artist Marcel.
"There are a lot of new things and changes that have happened in my life that are reflected on this record," Andrews says. "It's more about me and things that I'm going through."
Andrews says she is delving more into songwriting, and publishers are pitching her more mature material. Though some had preconceived notions of what a teenager should sing, Andrews never wanted to be limited.
"When I first started singing when I was 10 years old, I always sang about things that were way more mature than my years," she says. "I always felt like I could deliver them. I didn't feel like I necessarily had to be going through it in my own life to relate to it."
Andrews has tour dates set up throughout the summer, most of which are performances at music festivals and fairs. Most immediately, she's set appear May 24 during the annual Taste of Cincinnati event, and will stage a fan club party June 6 in Nashville during this year's Fan Fair. For more information on her fan club, visit her official Web site.
Here are Andrews' tour dates:
May 24: Cincinnati (Taste of Cincinnati)
May 31: Camden, N.J. (Tweeter Center)
June 6: Nashville (Fan Club Party)
June 20: Sauk Centre, Minn. (Country Music Fest)
June 21: Bottineau, N.D. (Bottineau County Fair)
July 2: Milwaukee (Summerfest)
July 4: Stevens Point, Wis. (Riverfront Rendezvous)
July 19: Morristown, Ohio (Jamboree In The Hills)
July 20: Virginia Beach, Va. (TBD)
July 25: Uncasville, Conn. (Mohegan Sun Casino)
July 26: North Haverhill, N.H. (North Haverhill Fair)
July 27: Hershey, Pa. (Hersheypark Amphitheatre)
Aug. 2: Dierks, Ark. (Pine Tree Festival)
Aug. 5: Hermiston, Ore. (Umatilla County Fair)
Aug. 6: Elma, Wash. (Gray's Harbor County Fair)
Aug. 31: Ebensburg, Pa. (Cambria County Fair)
Excerpted from the May 24, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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