Jessica Simpson is the happiest she’s ever been. With her latest album, "Do You Know," debuting in September at No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts, her quarterback boyfriend, Tony Romo, cheering her on and tour dates opening for Rascal Flatts, Simpson’s fluffy pop-star past is so last year’s tabloid cover.
“My new album is definitely a true reflection of who I am,” Simpson says. “I feel like each song on this album represents a different part of my life and the personal experiences I’ve had.”
While she built a career belting out pop hits such as “With You” and “Take My Breath Away,” the native Texan was anxious to return to her country roots.
“I really haven’t felt any sort of struggle transitioning from pop to country,” the 28-year-old singer says. “The only struggle really is just starting over again, but that’s sort of a refreshing, satisfying struggle. I’m able to take that self-discovery of everything I used to be and mix it with the woman that I am now.”
While most young entertainers fill their shows with elaborate dance sequences, dry ice and pyrotechnics, Simpson is keeping it real with just a microphone and her backup band.
“There’s no fancy choreography in my new show. I won’t be doing choreography anymore. You don’t want to see me dance,” she says with a laugh. “It’s not really one of my specialties. That was more of a pop thing that I felt was the only way to be entertaining. But then, you go back and realize, ‘Wait a minute—I was signed because I’m a singer. Let’s just keep it at that.’ ”
Simpson describes her new show as stripped-down and organic. “It’s just about me getting up there and people hopefully getting to know me a little bit better,” she says. “I find that country music fans have a certain respect for the heart of the music, which is nice. It’s not really about the person’s personal life.”
Simpson has been a constant fixture in the media since 2003, when her reality show, "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica," debuted on MTV. The prying lenses of the paparazzi seemingly have documented her every move.
“I think that whenever you get a boyfriend, all of a sudden you’re married or you’re pregnant. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s like, ‘Can’t I just date a guy without having to be pregnant or married?’ ” Simpson says. “The dating is not enough. They already have to take you to the next level.”
Simpson giggles when imagining the media making up rumors involving her dog, Daisy, which she takes everywhere.
“My good luck charm is definitely my daughter Daisy, my dog. She goes everywhere with me,” Simpson says. “But there’s probably been rumors that I’ve given birth to her because with the press, that’s how the rumors go these days. The tabloids are pretty ridiculous—whatever sells a magazine, I guess.”
Despite the media attention, Simpson is optimistic about 2009. “I’m very content and happy in my life. I really don’t know that my smile has ever been this sincere,” she says. “So I think I just want to keep working hard and keep on keeping on with the life I have now. I’m very proud of it.”
She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her heroes Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn and make music for the rest of her life.
“When you meet people like Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Loretta, they’re so humble. It’s so nice to meet people that you’ve looked up to for so long and they love what they do and they’re still out touring, doing what they did when they were 20,” Simpson says. “I’m definitely a working kind of gal. I’d be really bored if I wasn’t—unless I’m working on raising kids. Then, we’ll see, because I really want to be a great mom and be there for my kids.”
Simpson's tour with Rascal Flatts continues through mid-March.