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After an absence from the spotlight for five years, Linda Davis is singing new songs with a new attitude

Don't call it a comeback, call it a new arrival. After being away from the spotlight - and the recording studio - for five years, Linda Davis is back with the aptly named album I Have Arrived. And after 22 years in the music business, Linda's also survived.

"That message is in all of these songs," reveals Linda, calling from her cellphone in Nashville. "It's about being at a place where you look back and maybe you're not happy with what you see - but you can look forward and say, 'It's gonna be better because I've decided it's gonna be.' "

Linda's toughed out the highs and lows of the music business with the grace and persistence of a steel magnolia. "For a few years, I had a record deal, then I lost a record deal, had one, lost one," she says matter-offactly. "The mountains and the valleys of experiencing that had a major effect on me in every way. I needed to step away from the business - never the music, but the business - to just let my head clear and breathe a little bit."

Throughout her career, Linda has had - and lost - five record deals. "That's why the album's title song, 'I Have Arrived,' is such a perfect fit. Because after all the things I've been through, I can say, 'It's gonna be better because I have the courage.' I'm ready to go out there and do it again. Nothing and nobody is gonna keep me down."

Linda's record, which she produced with her husband, musician Lang Scott, was released June 1. It's the record she's always wanted to make. "This is the first time I feel like the whole project, from beginning to end, lets you know who I am and where I'm at."

Where she's at these days is where many women are - balancing family life (Linda and Lang have two daughters, Hillary, 18, and Rylee Jean, 3) with a successful career. Linda's been making music since she first charted as part of the duo Skip & Linda in 1982. She made her solo debut in 1988 and had 12 singles on the charts over the next 11 years.

In 1993 Linda topped the charts singing the smash duet "Does He Love You" with Reba McEntire. Having toured with Reba for years in the '90s as a backup vocalist, she recently returned this year as a special guest on Reba's current summer tour.

Last year, Linda was elected a national vice president of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. And she's also incorporated motivational speaking engagements into her already-packed schedule.

"It's been a natural progression," she says. "With all of my experience in show business and all the life experiences I've been through, there's a part of me that wants to reach out and say, 'I can identify with more than you may realize.' I guess I wouldn't be an entertainer if I didn't want to reach out."

In her motivational speeches, Linda shares personal stories, including what it's like to be a singer who's faced professional struggles yet never given up. "Obviously I talk about the record deals, and how [each time] I was thinking, 'OK, here we go, we're on our way.' Then the air gets let out of my sails. I talk about how I had to put on a happy face and act like it's no big deal - and keep on keeping on. A lot of people would pretty much hang it up after one record deal, much less five.

"That is a hard pill to swallow, because it makes you second-guess yourself for a little bit. But then you step back and realize, 'I see where I need to go and I just need to get back up on the horse and keep riding.' That is one of many scenarios I've used and applied that motto to."

Linda wrote three songs on I Have Arrived - and lived the other ones as well. "I feel very strong," notes Linda. "I feel like these lyrics are so true to me. I'm singing about things I've never sung about before. It's just so empowering.

"I feel like I've been weathered, in a good way. I'm using experiences from my past and imparting that information to other people.

"It's a new place for me - and I'm very fulfilled being at this place."

-- Wendy Newcomer