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CLASSIC COUNTRY Roberts' rise seems unreal



Published: Sat, August 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



As unbelievable as it seems, Julie Roberts was discovered by her boss.

By JOHN BENSON

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

Think "Erin Brockovich" and "Working Girl" meets "Rock Star." An aspiring singer gets a secretary job at a Nashville Record label but tells no one of her Grand Ole Opry aspirations. Eventually, her producer pitches her unknowing boss with a demo tape that knocks his socks off. Her secret is discovered and she soon becomes a country music star.

Couldn't you see actress Julia Roberts starring in such a feature film say a decade ago? Only this isn't a movie and it's not Julia Roberts. It's the real-life story of Julie Roberts, South Carolina native-turned-rising Music City star.

Making her tale even more Hollywood-esque was the fact Roberts was outside of her boss' office and could hear her voice blasting from his speakers. While this Cinderella story so far has had fantasy results, it was a risky move for the singer at the time.

"I didn't want to make people think that I was trying to work there to get a record deal," said Julie Roberts, calling from a Nashville studio. "I needed to pay my bills. I had school loans. I still have school loans and a car payment and rent. And I didn't want to lose my job. In that situation, I could have. So I never did tell anybody."

Going great

Fast forward two years and Roberts is a bona-fide singer on the move, having released her self-titled debut disc last year, which is nearing platinum sales based largely on the success of her first single "Break Me Down." In addition, Roberts was chosen to sing the "Good to Go" theme song for ABC's "Good Morning America." The 26-year-old singer can currently be seen in various promotional clips.

From secretary to national singer, Roberts has touched upon something unique with her music. With a down home style and a Bonnie Raitt sound, Roberts weaves a thread of hope into music that details the struggles of everyday living.

"That's life, right," Roberts said. "Not everybody's life, and really nobody's life, is perfect and that's why I put those songs on there because they're real. And if I haven't lived them, then I know someone who's lived them."

Roberts life now includes touring, touring, touring. Only recently did she take a few days off to return to Tennessee and begin work on her sophomore album, due out in late 2005 or early 2006. But it's back to the road for this singer where she'll play a co-headlining show with Shane Owens Aug. 19 at the B & amp;B Backstage.

When asked if she had ever heard of some obscure actress with a similar name to hers, Roberts laughed and answered the question everyone has been wondering for years.

"Yes, when I first got signed to Mercury [Records], they asked me if I wanted to change my name," Roberts said. "And I said, 'No.' My music is very honest. I'm a very honest person. I just wouldn't feel comfortable walking down the street and somebody saying, 'Hey Melissa' and me not looking. But it's me and that's who I've been for 26 years. I'm Julie Roberts."




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