"I was born in the heart of a hurricane season/ in the house where my mamma was raised/ that old September wind feels like a long lost friend." - Hello - Kristian Bush-Kristen Hall-Jennifer Nettles.

When former Soulminer's Daughter singer Jennifer Nettles landed an original song in TV soapie Dawson's Creek it was her first major publishing royalties.

But the Georgian singer confessed she had never seen the episode that featured her song Story Of Your Bones.

"They contacted us and wanted to licence my song," says Nettles, 32, who wrote the tune about her latter day husband.

That was then and this is now as Nettles new super group Sugarland has topped charts and won a brace of awards for its huge selling debut disc Twice The Speed Of Life.

< Jennifer Nettles

Nettles' latter day earnings dwarf her early successes - especially after Sugarland beat rock acts for best all genre new artist at the American Music Awards.

Sugarland sales surpassed two million before being a finalist in the Grammys but lost a singer Kristen Hall, now 44, to the rigors of the Lost Highway.

Nettles, Hall and Kristian Bush, 36, formed Sugarland after an early morning meeting in Atlanta in 2003.

Mercury Nashville label boss Luke Lewis signed the trio in July, 2003, after attending packed gigs in Atlanta and Nashville.

Nettles co-wrote eight of the band's 11 originals - including first two hit singles - Baby Girl and Something More.

"We had huge support from radio for all the singles," Nettles told Nu Country TV in a call from Reno, Nevada.

"They were happy songs. Country broadened its sound to cater for upbeat and happy songs as well as traditional lament and sad songs - tear in my beer sort of songs. We pool our individual influences and use that in a creative way."


"I was born in the heart of a hurricane season/ in the house where my mamma was raised/ that old September wind feels just like a long lost friend." - Hello - Kristian Bush-Kristen Hall-Jennifer Nettles.

And, with supreme irony the sentiments of Hello were prophetic when it was released on the eve of the hurricane season.

"I love Hello because it's so appropriate today," Nettles revealed.

"It deals with the fall and hurricane season, very topical - Hurricane Katrina and all the after effects of that. It echoes life and what's it's like. Life is a cycle - one phase ends and another starts. Those folks can build what they lost - that was all my first verse."

What about "making love in a bed of fresh fallen leaves?"

"I can't own up to that," Nettles quipped.

"It was divine inspiration from whence it came. This sets the scene for the song."

So how literal was the album title track with the reference to driving at twice the speed of life to hurricane casualty Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast of Texas?

"You are not heading south at that speed," I asked.

"I'm surprised how much you know about the record," Nettles revealed.

"You listen to the songs - they're very biographical. I'm glad you feel they are relevant to you because they're relevant to me."


"Well, it's two miles east to west/ only four miles north to south/ when you pass the only red light/ you will see the pastor's house." - Small Town Jericho - Kristian Bush- Kirsten Hall-Jennifer Nettles.

Kristian Bush made his name with folk duo Billy Pilgrim but co-wrote Small Town Jericho and radio rooted Tennessee about his East Tennessee roots.

"Kristian lived in the Jericho area of Tennessee and bought the idea in," Nettles said. "He's from near Knoxville, a little town called Sevierville - also hometown of Dolly Parton. He was in this alternate folk duo Billy Pilgrim in the early 90's - sort of a male equivalent to the Indigo Girls.


"I got miles of troubles spreading far and wide/ bills on the table getting higher and higher/ they just keep on coming, there ain't no end in sight/ I'm just holding on tight." Just Might Make Me Believe - Kristen Hall.

Kristen Hall

Hall penned third hit Just Might Make Me Believe about the pre-fame struggles.

Nu Country is screening that video this week.

"We shot the video for Just Might Make Me Believe in Denver, just outside Boulder in Colorado. There was just the three of us."

The trio's hefty work schedule, touring with diverse as Brad Paisley and Sara Evans, included gigs with expatriate Australasian superstar Keith Urban and now plans for an Australian tour.

"Our first arena tour was with Brad and Sara," says Nettles.

"We also worked with at the CMA festival. Keith is super cute and his band is great - he's a wonderful export from Australia.

Even when Keith Urban was first coming out he was a little different - country music is opening up the doors a bit. We would love to tour Australia. We have done Europe and Canada and would love to come there. It's a new arena for me - the logical next step."


But that step will be without Hall who left in January this year after my interview with Nettles.

Although the band is still based in Georgia the touring caused the departure of Hall.

"I live in Decatur, Georgia and stay close to home when not on the road," Nettles said before learning of Hall's exit.

"If we need to be in Nashville we can drive or fly."

Hall didn't attend the American Music Awards and other high profile TV shows such as the Grammys.

Instead she issued this statement.

"The requirements of performing on the road do not allow time to focus on relationships with other writers and recording artists essential for me to do what I do best - songwriting," Hall revealed after her departure in January.

"That said, I am incredibly appreciative and indebted to Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush for all the hard work and talent they brought to this band, which has resulted in such great success for us all. We plan to support each other wholeheartedly into the future."

Hall released two solo albums for High Street/Windham Hill before teaming with Nettles and Bush to form Sugarland.

She also co-wrote the trio's hit singles, Baby Girl, and Something More.

Both tracks peaked at #2 on Billboard's country singles chart.


"They say this town/ the stars stay up all night/ don't know, can't see them/ for the glow of the neon lights/ and it's a long way from here/ to the place where the home fires burn/ well it's 200o miles and one left turn." - Baby Girl - Kristian Bush, Kirsten Hall, Jennifer Nettles and Troy Bleser.

Baby Girl is the story of an ambitious young woman who survives on the love of her parents until her Nashville dreams come true.

"We lived the song that day," Bush revealed of the tune that they performed at the Nashville showcase that earned them their deal.

"We played the show crossing our fingers but didn't really know who was going to be there but thought there were going to be some record labels. And literally after we walked off the stage. We stood there with out eyes really big like deer, and these record labels came through and said, 'We want to make a record with you.'


Hall is the sole writer of third Sugarland hit Just Might (Make Me Believe) - it hit #8 on country charts.


Jennifer Nettles
Nettles sang in church at seven after being raised on gospel, folk, soul, rock and blues in rural South Georgia.

Jennifer began writing her own music and playing guitar at 17, and by 1994 at the age of 20, she was cutting her teeth on Atlanta's fertile music scene.

"I was raised in Douglas, Georgia, where my mum is an English teacher," Nettles revealed.

"My dad wasn't in the picture. Mum was my main influence. I went to college - she said 'you can be anything you want to be but be a college educated person.' It turned me onto other passions at Agnes Scott College. You have really done your homework yes, I studied anthropology and Spanish."

Today, Jennifer Nettles could have concentrated on her music career while earning online degrees. There is no need to choose one passion over another. Luckily for us country fans, she chose to be a star on Country Music Television. It could be a very different world if she became a famous contributer to the National Anthropological Archives.

Nettles released two albums - Sacred And Profane 1997 and Hallelujah 1998 - in a four-year career with Cory Jones as the folk duo Soulminer's Daughter.

"We were alternative folk," Nettles said.

"The name was my idea - not Cory's. It started out as a joke because of the elements of soul and blues and the play on words of Loretta Lynn's Coalminer's Daughter.

Collectively, we sold about 40,000 albums."


Nettles then formed her own band and won spots on Lilith Fair in 1999 and released three studio albums - Story Of My Bones, Gravity, Drag Me Down and Rewind.

She also released two live solo CDS after New Year's Eve gigs at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta in 2003 and 2004.

"I'd had the same band for six years, and a couple those guys were moving on and doing other things," Nettles says.

"That was a pretty emotional point for me, and so I was really open to new things and thinking, 'What is the universe about to bring me here?'"

That venue was also the embryo of Sugarland.
"Ironically we all met at Eddie's Attic - the club my future husband owned," Nettles added.

Kristian Bush

"We began writing for Sugarland - we kept every song for ourselves. A lot of the songs are based on my family and my boyfriend who is now my husband."

The trio took its name from the town of Sugarland in Texas and inspired Sugarland Swirl - a sundae on sale at Jake's Ice Cream in Atlanta.

It hasn't earned Nettles the same royalties as the Dawson's Creek song or Sugarland hits.

"They contacted us and wanted to licence my song," Nettles revealed.

"The song was used on the Dawson's Creek soundtrack but I didn't get to the see that episode."

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