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Coming Up Roses

Meredith Edwards

Sitting in her bedroom in her parents' Clinton, Miss., home, Meredith Edwards could be any excitable, fresh-faced 17-year-old. But she's not.

Not every girl Meredith's age has a hit song on the radio, a powerful, emotive voice and very little time on her hands.

And with only a few days off to spend at home, Meredith has to catch up with some pretty basic things. "I have to do my laundry," she says with a groan. Spare time has become a precious commodity for Meredith, whose debut single, "A Rose Is A Rose," is climbing the charts. "It tells a great story," she says. "It's such a country song."

Just the sort of thing Meredith was looking for while cutting tunes for her just-released debut album, Reach. "I wanted real country songs," she says. "I didn't want teenybopper-bubblegum-type songs. But I also didn't want to sing about divorce and stuff I didn't know anything about."

The result is an album that could have been made by someone much older than Meredith. But no wonder; this 17-year-old has been singing in public since she was four. Even though she decided on her career path early on, it took a stretch of the imagination to believe a youngster in a small rural town could become a star. "When people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I'd say, 'I want to be a singer,'" she remembers.

"And they'd say, 'Well, what's something else you want to be?' "

But Meredith had a secret weapon - at age five, she joined a choir through which she met a young man named Lance Bass. When Lance's pop group, 'N Sync, became a worldwide sensation, he followed through on his promise to give Meredith a helping hand.

In short order, he became her manager and helped her snare a record deal.

This summer Meredith will be opening shows on 'N Sync's stadium tour and continuing to balance the pressures of a musical career with the concerns of a teenager. She's completing high school via correspondence courses.

And she still has a boyfriend in Clinton. "We don't get to see each other that often, but it's great to have somebody who understands," she confesses. "We'll just take it one day at a time."

She's approaching her fast-paced musical life the same way.

"I want to enjoy every second of it," she declares with a smile. "I want to have fun with what I'm doing."

-- Chris Neal