(In the Moment: Julie Roberts debuts May 28 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.)
On the set of her first music video, “Break Down Here,” Julie Roberts stood in awe of the massive crew — director, cameras, lighting, props, catering and so on. But after the last shot had been captured in the cool California desert, everybody called it a wrap.
Well, almost everybody.
Since the day before that video shoot, Roberts has been trailed by a video camera and a sound technician. They have filmed her in her record label’s conference room and at Country Radio Seminar and at the grocery store and the gym. The result, In the Moment: Julie Roberts, documents the days of a country star on the rise.
“I really do miss them when they’re not there because you get used to them,” she says. “You feel like something’s not right when they’re not there.”
A native of Lancaster, S.C., Roberts wishes a documentary like this had existed when she was younger, harboring dreams of being a country star.
“Oh, I would have loved it!” she says. “I really would have. I mean, I would have been glued to it, whether it was an hour special, or something they show more than once. & People are going to learn a lot, I think.”
Roberts spent two years at a junior college in South Carolina before enrolling in Belmont University in Nashville. She interned at Mercury Nashville for two years, then was hired full time. However, she kept her musical aspirations quiet, thinking she’d be fired if somebody thought she was using her position to make headway as an artist.
While still at Belmont, she had recorded some demos, and a few years later, one of her friends gave them to producer Brent Rowan, who had scored big with Joe Nichols’ major label debut. Impressed with her singing, Rowan and Roberts worked in the studio before and after Roberts’ day job and sometimes over her lunch break.
Finally, Rowan asked Mercury Nashville head Luke Lewis if he could play the tapes along with demos from some other artists he was producing. Roberts set up the appointment. After all, by that point, she was working as his assistant.
“At the end of that meeting, he was going to play our demos, and that’s what he did,” Roberts remembers. “I was outside the office working, answering the phones. My heart was racing, and I was scared I was going to get fired if he didn’t like it. I just prayed that he liked it.”
Lewis did like it and asked her to finish the project. Four of the songs on the demo made it to the final album which was released Tuesday (May 25). However, she says she won’t watch the documentary until it airs on CMT.
“It’s going to show what you do after you get signed, and then it’s going to show me — who I am and also the different people that are really close to me, like my mom. It’s going to show that side of my life. This is my purpose: To take my music and my personality around the world.”
Asked if there’s anything embarrassing on the tape, she giggles and says, “I’m sure there were a lot of things, but it was me, and I honestly don’t know what they got. & They definitely got me with no makeup on, when I’d wake up looking all rough. But that’s life. That’s me. We’ll see.”