"You know all the right people/ you wear all the right clothes/ you got a snappy little sport car all you own/ you got the cool conversation on your high tech telephone/ but you got one little problem baby/ you ain't down home." - You Ain't Down Home - Jamie O'Hara.

Julie Roberts

When South Carolina born Julie Roberts was persuaded to allow a reality TV show to film her intimately on her recording promotion she didn't expect overnight success.

Roberts worked for five years as an intern, receptionist and P.A. to Luke Lewis - CEO at the Nashville office of a major multi national label Universal Music.

She was well versed in the pitfalls of artists whose music is thrown at the radio wall and may be dumped after their first single.

"I didn't know how it was going to turn out," Roberts told Nu Country after her self-titled Universal album reached #9 on debut.

"I didn't know the song was going to move slow on the charts. It was showing the reality of my career and how things move slowly.

They followed me more than six months with cameras."

In the Moment: Julie Roberts, documents the days of a country star on the rise for the Nashville based CMT Pay TV channel.

Roberts is filmed doing radio interviews, visiting an imaging consultant, talking with her supportive mother about making it in the music business and taking a tour bus back to her hometown.

She is also filmed at the prestige Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, at the supermarket and the gym.


By the time the TV series screened on CMT, Roberts debut single Break Down Here was topping charts.

"It has been #1 single on the sales charts for seven weeks," Roberts, now 25, said of a tune that emulated the saga of her accountant mother's car.

Roberts mother left her hometown of Lancaster (population 8,177) for Nashville after splitting with her engineer husband.

"She's been here for three years and a big supporter of me. She drove us around in a big white pick up truck for a long time then upgraded to a 1991 Ford Escort. It breaks down all the time. That's what she still drives."

Roberts spent two years at a junior college in South Carolina before enrolling in Belmont University in Nashville.

She interned at Mercury Nashville for two years, then was hired full time.

But she kept her musical aspirations quiet, thinking she'd be fired if somebody thought she was using her position to make headway as an artist


While at Belmont, she had recorded some demos, and a few years later, one of her friends gave them to renowned producer and guitarist Brent Rowan.

Rowan was a session ace before producing Joe Nichols' major label debut.

Rowan and Roberts worked in the studio before and after Roberts' day job and sometimes over her lunch break.

Finally, Rowan asked Mercury head Lewis if he could play the tapes along with demos from some other artists he was producing.
Roberts set up the appointment. After all, by that point, she was working as his assistant.

"At the end of that meeting, he was going to play our demos, and that's what he did," she said.

"I was outside the office working, answering the phones. My heart was racing, and I was scared I was going to get fired if he didn't like it. I just prayed that he liked it."

Lewis liked it and asked her to finish the project. Four of the songs on the demo made it to the final album.

Although Roberts honed her skills as a writer after quitting her day job at Universal she cut 11 covers on her debut disc - a country-pop-soul hybrid.


And, despite being a novitiate, she lured Fort Worth country legend Delbert McClinton and Oklahoma born superstar Vince Gill to sing on her debut.

Julie Roberts with Vince Gill

"It's a true blessing both are on my record," the singer confessed.

McClinton sang on No Way Out, penned by prolific singer-songwriters Darrell Scott and Marcus Hummon whose royalties have been swollen by their tunes that have been hits for the Dixie Chicks.

"I loved the song," Roberts revealed. "Darrell actually sang the demo I heard. I love to hear him sing. His vocal struck me for the message in the song. In so many country songs everybody breaks up and gets divorced. This hit me because the couple stayed together no matter what. There's no way out of it, a different take on it."

A complete contrast to his Dixie Chicks smash hit Long Time Gone.


And You'll Never Get Out Of Harlan Alive - a Scott tuned he recorded before he earned healthy royalties from versions by Patty Loveless and Brad Paisley.

Gill, former singing spouse of Sweethearts Of The Rodeo singer Janis Oliver and latter day husband of Christian singer Amy Grant, harmonises on two songs - Unlove Me and The Chance.


Roberts also recorded Jamie O'Hara song You Ain't Down Home, previously cut by one time Asleep At The Wheel singer and Indiana born solo artist Jann Browne, now 54.

"The publisher said here's a song we would like to have recorded," Roberts recalled. "I heard it when I was a little kid but didn't know who recorded it. It was Jamie O'Hara singing the demo. I couldn't believe they had pitched it to me. I like to think I'm down home."

Roberts also recorded Julie Miller song I Can't Get Over You.

"I loved it immediately," says Roberts.

"I love Buddy and Julie Miller and I became interested when I heard Lee Ann Womack do Does My Ring Burn Your Finger? It's real country music, it hits me emotionally."

So why did Roberts, who showcased two of her originals Him and Ain't That Just Like A Woman (that shares its title with a Dylan song), not include any originals on her debut?

"I didn't begin writing til I quit that job at Universal," Roberts confessed.

"I didn't want to compromise the quality to just have a song I had written. I have more time now for writing with great writers in Nashville. Next time might have some of my songs."

So who are Roberts co-writers?

"I have been writing with Jason Matthews (writer of Break Down Here and Unlove Me on her debut), Danny Wells, Tony Mullins and Roxy Dean," says Roberts.

"I have also been writing with my band leader Mickey. I'm writing because I love it - I love writing. I'm not holding on to them."

So where does the singer prefer to write?

"I try to get away from Music Row to write if I can," Roberts says.

"I don't like to hear other writers working on songs in cubicles in publishers' offices. I like to write with my bandleader Mickey on the road. We wrote Ain't That Just Like A Woman."

Roberts, whose career has been primed more by TV and radio interviews than touring, wants to visit Australia.

"I'd love to visit y'all," she says.

"I'm mainly doing festivals and fairs. I'm also opening for Rascal Flats in our fall. But that's not announced yet. I'm really excited about that. I love their music."

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