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Jamie O'Neal sits on the couch, and slowly slides down into the cushions. She kicks off her boots, stretches her legs and seems entirely relaxed, despite the presence of a reporter on the opposite end of the couch.
We are in the tiny lobby outside the recording studio Jamie and her musician-engineer husband, Rodney Good, have built in the basement of their home south of Nashville. Rodney is inside mixing tracks for Canadian group Emerson Drive, and pops his head out apologetically to ask if he's disturbing us. Thanks to some good soundproofing, he is not.
Jamie is clearly enjoying this moment of calm, one of the few she has remaining before plunging back into the business of being a country star. After blasting onto the radio in 2001 with the chart-toppers "When I Think About Angels" and "There Is No Arizona," record-label troubles and the birth of her first child complicated her skyrocketing career. But with 20- month-old Aliyah taking her afternoon nap upstairs and Jamie's second album, Brave, finally set for release March 1, the singer is enjoying the last days of what she calls her "nesting phase."
"It has been difficult getting back," she admits. "I really missed being onstage, but the other stuff I could totally do without. I don't think any performer would say to you, 'I love the travel!' I think doing the show for an hour and a half is what we live for."
Now that hour and a half must be scheduled around a growing little girl. Jamie professes amazement at stars like Martina McBride and Faith Hill, who juggle fast-paced careers with even fuller houses. "I don't know how some of these people with multiple kids do it," she says. "It's hard when she's going 'Mommy, Mommy!' and doesn't want me to go onstage." For the shows Jamie has done over the last few months, she has had Aliyah's babysitter hold her in the wings, so mother and child can keep an eye on one another. "I want her with me as much as possible," she says.
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