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Angel in Disquise

Soulful pop singer Jessica Simpson has a lot to be thankful for. In just one year the 19-year-old Dallas native's been blessed with a promising new album, a hit single, "I Wanna Love You Forever" and the opportunity to tour with two of the world's biggest acts-pop balladeers 98 degrees and hip-swerving hunk Ricky Martin.

This past year just adds to the list of blessings Jessica was already given. Great looks and a booming voice to name just two! She started cultivating that booming voice in her father's Baptist church when just a kid. At age 12, she had an audition to become a part of the same club that her counterparts, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, once belonged-Micky Mouse Club. But after going all the way to the finals, Jessica didn't make it. Laughing, she admits, "I froze, but the experience made me even stronger and more convinced that I was on the right path."

That path first led her to gospel music. And a cappella version of "Amazing Grace" on a local radio station landed Jessica a contract to do a gospel album. The label she recorded for, however, went belly up. Jessica and her family didn't loose faith. They paid to make copies of the album themselves and she and her father hit the road to promote it on their own. As more people got wind of the teenage Texan with a grown-up voice she became extremely popular in the Christian mucic world. Jessica got to sing with such acts as Kirk Franklin, God's Property and CeCe Winans.

Her singing finally caught the ears of head-honcho of Song Music Tommy Mottola. "I remember going to Tommy's office in this secret elevator. I was so nervous," she said. "He told me, 'You are going to change the world with the power of your heart and your music.'" And Mottola was right!

Her album wasn't even fully recorded yet, but Jessica was Already on the Heat It Up tour with 98 degrees. Needless to say, she was having the time of her life! Teaming up with the guys just led to a couple more blessings. Besides being seen by thousands of fans, one blessing was a duet with 98 degree's Nick Lachey on her song "Where You Are." The blonde songbird says, "Watching 98 degrees perform every night, I had this idea that I should record something with Nick and when this song came along it was perfect!"

The closeness led to more than just a great song. The two (now brace yourselves for this fans) actually made a love connection! Yes, Jessica says she and Nick are definately a couple. Jessica and Nick got to spend every day together, but when her run on the tour was up, seeing each other became more challenging. Despite the up-and-coming diva's new hectic schedule, "We make our ways," she says.

With a guardian angel by her side, Jessica also made her way to a tour with Ricky Martin, launching this singer to a whole new level. Jessica felt the difference instantly. "Even the fans are different," says the performer. While 98 degrees fans sweat them for having major hottie-appeal, Jessica says Ricky's fans take it one step further. "With Ricky Martin, it's like they're screaming because they love the music. They are feeling the music. It's really more of a respect thing than just an. 'Oh your cute' type of thing."

Performing night after night was of course, a blast for Jessica. Unfortunately, she did not escape without at least one embarassing moment. Keeping a journal of her year's escapades, which she shares with fans on her website, Jessica writes about one bad night in paricular at New York City's Madison Square Garden. She says. "So I go out there and start dancing and I go to hit this huge high note and I sing my pants off, literally. My pants crack, split and start falling off, and I slowly walked backstage, started crying, I was freaking out." While she stood completely mortified, her mom was an absolute gem. She ran to her daughter, quickly took off her jeans for Jessica to wear and told her to get back out there! Amazed by her mom's loving gesture, she went back out and said, "'All right, I don't know who saw my booty, but I'm about to sing it off, so here's the next song.' And I tried to do it even though it was one of the most humiliating things. I couldn't just stop, you that's my night."

Getting back to our teen angel's album, Jessica's song "Woman In Me" with her lablemates Destiny Child also has hit potential. It's meant to help build every girl's self-esteem and understand her value in the world. Jessica says it's very important to her that people love themselves for who they are and that everyone appreciates the beauty in their souls.

Well, the gifts won't stop coming for Jessica in the new Millennium. The singer was recently signed to Ford, one of the world's biggest modeling agencies. Expect to see her winning smile and gorgeous figure show off the latest fads in some of your favorite fashion magazines.

That's not all, the WB network is in the process of creating her very own show. While the details are still being worked out, one thing is for sure-the show will be a hit! And isn't everyone grateful for that? Singing, dancing, modeling and acting. Is there anything our earth angel can't do? She knows that as long as she sticks close to the path that brought her all this success in the first place, Jessica's blessings will keep on flowing.

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