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When the man she had hoped to marry settled down with another woman instead, Leslie Satcher knew what she had to do. "I thought, 'Well then, I might as well go and try to be a country-and-western singer," she recalls.

That's exactly what she did. In 1988, Leslie packed up her things and left her hometown of Paris, Texas, for Nashville. And that heartbreak didn't just propel her to Music City, it also inspired the title song from her debut album, Love Letters.

"That song is a true story," she says. "I sat down one day and thought about that guy. I thought, 'I hope he doesn't forget me.' " Not likely - Leslie says her former beau recently told her he has heard the song. "I thought that was a cool way of going full circle," she says.

Between that broken romance and the release of her own album, Leslie became an in-demand songwriter, penning tunes for stars including Vince Gill, Sara Evans, Pam Tillis and Chely Wright. "As soon as I got to Nashville, it started falling into place," she recalls. "It was like touching off one domino in a long line of them - I just hit that first one and they all fell right in order."

Leslie's most recent smash as a songwriter is Martina McBride's "When God-Fearin' Women Get The Blues." "I knew when I wrote that song that it was a hit, and I knew it wasn't for me," says Leslie. "It's a hard song to sing, and I don't know if I could do it every night like Martina can. She's an awesome singer, and it's great to hear somebody with incredible pipes just nailing your song."

But throughout her success as a composer, Leslie never forgot her original goal - to sing her own songs. "I knew when I was a little bitty kid about five that I was gonna be a singer," she says. "I remember standing on a stool one morning and telling my mom, 'I'm gonna be a country-and-western singer when I grow up.' "

With the release of her debut album in January 2001, that little girl's dream has come true. "If you could see my heart," she says, "you'd see there's a piece of it gone because I poured it into this record."

- Chris Neal