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Second Time's The Charm

When Brett James came to Nashville from Oklahoma 10 years ago, things fell right into place for him -- and then they fell apart.

When I first moved to town, I got treated like I was the next Garth Brooks," he recalls. "And sure enough, I wasn't!"

Brett can laugh about it now, as he enjoys a rare second shot at stardom with his hit "Chasin' Amy." But a few years ago, things were looking decidedly darker -- his self-titled 1995 debut album scored critical praise but disappointing sales, and a planned follow-up didn't get released at all.

"I was in panic mode," he says. "It's really cool to chase your dream, but I was thinking, 'I've got to feed my family.'" So in 1999, Brett gave up on Nashville and returned to the University of Oklahoma medical school, where he'd already put in one year in the early '90s. His wife and kids stayed behind to sell their house.

"And sure enough, as soon as I went back to med school, all hell broke loose," he says with a smile. Two days after classes began, Faith Hill recorded a song Brett had written -- "Love Is A Sweet Thing" -- and over the next seven months, an astounding 28 more of his tunes were recorded.

Before long, he was being offered another chance to make an album of his own -- so he called off the sale of his Nashville house and moved back to Music City two years ago. Now his evocative "Chasin' Amy" is climbing the charts, and a new album is set for release this summer.

The only downside Brett has found to his unexpected second act is that his busy schedule is keeping him away from home and family -- wife Sandy and their three children. "It's hard to be gone from my kids when I'm traveling," he admits. "So that's one of my long-term goals, to afford to take my family on the road."

And as for his medical career -- well, Brett figures it just wasn't meant to be.

"I don't know if I was going to kill people or what, but for some reason God did not want me to be a doctor," he laughs. "So now I know what I'm doing is the right thing."

--Chris Neal