NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Expect to see a lot more of Jamie Lynn Spears this summer, but not in her former role as an actress. She's putting out new music, getting radio play and introducing herself to country music fans all over the country.
Spears, making an appearance at this week's CMA Music Fest in Nashville, understands why some people might be a little puzzled — the little sister of one of the world's biggest pop star's singing country? But Spears says once people get a chance to listen to her, they understand it.
"It gives me more of a reason to prove that I love what I am doing and make them believe in me," Spears said.
The former teen star of "Zoey 101" has been working behind the scenes in Nashville learning the craft of songwriting. She's already got a music video and put out an EP called "The Journey" on iTunes with five new songs.
Even without a record label, she still sneaked into the bottom of the Billboard's Country Airplay chart and she's increasingly doing more live performances, including this week's festival and the Taste of Country festival later in June in New York State. Festivals like the CMA Fest are critical starting points for new artists trying to break out on the smaller stages and grab the attention of both music industry folks and fans alike.
Spears left acting after announcing that she was pregnant at the age of 16, but now 23, a mom and recently married, she says she knows singing is her passion.
"It felt good to be able to tell these stories and be able to sing them, make them universal," Spears said. "... I feel like I have really been able to find who I was as an artist."
The two sisters sang together on a song for Britney's album, "Britney Jean," and the younger Spears isn't ruling out another duet in the future. Jamie Lynn says she gets advice and inspiration from her older sister, but she's also gotten a good compliment from Britney.
"She thinks it's brave that I am out there really laying it on the line with some of my lyrics," Spears said. "So I think that we do influence each other just as far as the craft goes even though it is two completely different sounds."
Dhruv Prasad, one of the festival organizers for the Taste of Country festival, said the name may get her through the door in country music, but it's her music that will determine her success.
"Jamie Lynn Spears has 4 million hits on her YouTube," Prasad noted. "That to me is a more relevant metric of her popularity, versus whose sister she is."
On the Web: www.jamielynnspears.com
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