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‘90s favorite recounts the wild ride that led to pop stardom, and meeting the Pope.

 

What aspects of being a TRL and Top 40 superstar were you completely unprepared for, and maybe overwhelmed you?

I had a very simple upbringing, two parents, one brother, and just lived in Georgia my whole life. I was really taught that I could do anything I wanted, so I had no fear of success … but when it actually hit, it was so wild.

I had moved to California, and within the year (I was) doing demos, getting discovered, making a record and then on the radio. It was such a fast process from the time that I left Georgia to being on the radio. I think that was the craziest part of it.

What do you remember as being the first real perk of being in the limelight, the first time something happened for you and you were like, “They do that for me now?”

This is hilarious. I was super broke when I moved to California. I had this little convertible that I bought at an auction when I still lived in Georgia. I drove across country. I shopped at some yard sales to get some things for my little studio apartment, and I was just broke as a joke.

When I got there for my signing dinner with the record label I drove my little car. The restaurant was a really nice restaurant, and my car died in the valet line. It was on Sunset Boulevard, and I stopped traffic for like miles because the car wasn’t able to move forward.

The day after that the label bought me a car. They were like, oh no, we can’t have this. We can’t be having you breaking down everywhere.

Do you have a photo, or a piece of memorabilia, from that time that you feel really captures the essence of everything that was going on for you back then?

I do, yeah. I have a picture of me from when I first heard “Crush” on the radio. I had a roommate at the time who took a picture of me because I was all excited. I think I was calling my parents.

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