Jamie Lynn Spears pursuing country music career

Photo provided by KATES ROBINSON --Jamie Lynn Spears Show caption
Photo provided by KATES ROBINSON --Jamie Lynn Spears

Country singer to play Texas Club

Jamie Lynn Spears, younger sister of pop star Britney Spears, is preparing for a return to the show business spotlight. Her recent media coverage includes E!, “Entertainment Tonight,” MTV, CMT and Billboard.

The 22-year-old singer’s “How Could I Want More,” a heartfelt ballad she wrote from a vulnerable place, recently reached No. 4 on the iTunes country charts. The song’s accompanying music video has received 2.7 million YouTube views.

An album is expected to follow “How Could I Want More” in the upcoming months. Spears, who lives in Hammond, about 30 miles from her hometown of Kentwood, is performing this week in Little Rock, Ark., Jackson, Miss., and in Baton Rouge at the Texas Club.

The singer found early fame as an actress in Nickelodeon’s sketch-comedy show, “All That,” and as title character Zoey Brooks in Nickelodeon’s Southern California-set “Zoey 101.”

A mother at 17, Spears has spent the past five years raising her daughter, Maddie. She also found time to develop her musical talent, traveling between Louisiana and Nashville.

Spears has co-written songs with such Music City tunesmiths as Rivers Rutherford (Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Montgomery Gentry), Chris Tompkins, Liz Rose, Lisa Carver and Luke Laird. So far she’s composed about 100 songs.

“I feel like I’ve been in college,” she said of co-writing. “I had my story to tell, but sitting down with these writers and having them teach me the craft and the art of writing song, where I can make it universal, where my story translates to everyone else, has been such a blessing.”

Spears started traveling to Nashville when her daughter was about 3 months old. She’d spend a week out of each month there. She also lived there for about year before returning to Louisiana.

“When it came time to decide that this is what I want to do, I moved to Nashville,” she said. “I wrote pretty much every day. I took voice lessons, guitar lessons, met new people, met co-writers. Really digging in and figuring out what my sound is and who I want to be as an artist.”

Spears’ sister, Britney, of course, is mega-successful in the pop world, but Jamie Lynn gravitated to country music.

“I worked in L.A. but I always lived in Louisiana,” she said. “I think there was confusion about how it made sense for me to sing country. For me it was about getting in a writing room. When I got in there, my story organically led itself to country music.”

Despite being off the radar for years, Spears never lost her creative energy.

“Music is a big part of my life, so I always wanted to have an outlet for that,” she said. “But I wanted to do it right. That takes time. You can’t rush into anything and, ultimately, being a mom comes first. If something was going to take time away from my everyday mom duties, then it needed to be right, it needed to worth it.

“I did some acting when I was younger,” she explained. “Obviously, this entertainment business has been a part of my life growing up. But this is my first time as an adult to really go out and express who I am as an artist. This is the first time I’m really able to go out there and do what I feel I’m meant to do.”

Spears is road testing her songs during her trio of shows this week.

“I want to get out there and see what songs fans like best. That’s a big part of this, so I’ve been doing gigs here and there. I’m really excited about doing shows in Baton Rouge and Jackson. A lot of people I know are coming. I feel like people from this area will love these songs and really get them, because this is where I’m from and this is what I write about.”