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Cyndi Thomson lets faith, talent and hard work lift her to the top

Cyndi Thomson fights back tears. She's gazing out at a sea of her friends, music industry associates and media who've joined her at a party celebrating the chart-topping success of her debut single, "What I Really Meant To Say."

"I'm constantly pinching myself because this has been such a sweet journey - it definitely has to be divine," she tells the crowd, still amazed at what she's achieved since the release of the runaway hit earlier this year.

  • "What I Really Meant To Say" held the No. 1 spot for three consecutive weeks (based on radio play) and became the top-selling country single for eight consecutive weeks.
  • The song's video is nominated for a Billboard Video Award.
  • Cyndi made her Grand Ole Opry debut in August. Not bad for someone who just celebrated her 25th birthday.

"Ever since I was 12, I knew I was gonna do this," recalls Cyndi quietly. "I didn't know how, I didn't know if I'd be successful, but it started with the 'first believers' when I came to Nashville. To have people in the industry believe in you is so encouraging. You come here and you see all the people who move here and spend their life savings to become artists - and never make it.

"I just thank everyone who's believed in me and helped me do something I want to do forever."

Cyndi's not the only one giving thanks. "What I Really Meant To Say" has made such an impact on listeners she frequently hears stories about how it has affected their lives.

"I was at a radio station in Phoenix," recalls the Georgia native. "When I said hello to a caller who sounded like he had been crying, he said, 'I just wanted to thank you.' I said, 'Thank me for what?'

"He said he and his wife were getting a divorce and had met at this club to go over the papers. Then my song came on. They didn't say one word to each other; they just listened to the words. When it was over, they ripped the papers up and decided they didn't want that to ever be their story. And he added, 'I'm madly in love with her again.'"

Cyndi pauses. "I never thought in my entire life I would hear that story."

Cyndi's done a lot of things in the past year she likely never thought she'd do, from becoming friends with Trisha Yearwood - the woman who inspired her to become a singer - to joining Jo Dee Messina's acclaimed Burn Tour.

But she ranks her Opry debut as a special memory.

"I've been in front of many crowds," declares Cyndi, "but the Opry was just such a thrilling experience. I have never, ever turned to Jell-O before like that in my entire life.

"When I walked onstage, it just felt like it was full of spirits, that it was just me and them - and they came to listen. Everything else pretty much faded away. And I wasn't really thinking when I was performing, I was just listening.

"It was so emotional 'cause I was starting to cry. And I thought, 'You can't do that! Don't screw it up! At least cry when you get offstage!' I definitely want to go back. It's such a sweet place."

With her second single, "I Always Liked That Best," receiving early raves and critics and fans singing her praises, Cyndi will likely have many more chances to grace the stage of country's "Mother Church."

"I'm constantly thanking God and trying to stay on track with who I am in all of this," she says."Because it really is a gift. I just want to continue to love what I do and move people and make them happy.

"If I can do that, I'm truly blessed."

--David Scarlett