Born in Douglas, Georgia, on September 12, 1974, Jennifer Nettles performed with Soul Miner's Daughter and The Jennifer Nettles Band before forming Sugarland in 2003, with Kristen Hall and Kristian Bush. Nettles and Bush went on to considerable success, winning the 2009 Grammy Award for best country song and the Vocal Duo of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music.
Singer, songwriter and musician Jennifer Odessa Nettles was born on September 12, 1974, in Douglas, Georgia. As the lead singer of Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles has become one of the most popular singer-songwriters in country music today.
Nettles grew up in a small town and started singing along to songs on the radio at an early age. She learned to play piano and started writing songs as a child. She performed at church events and other functions and eventually joined a 4-H group known as Clovers and Company.
In college, Nettles formed the duo Soul Miner's Daughter with Cory Jones. Starting her own self-titled band in 1998, she earned a spot on the 1999 Lilith Fair tour and began to develop a strong following for her folk alternative sound. Nettles then released the 2000 album Story of Your Bones.
A few years later, Nettles joined forces with two other veterans of the Atlanta alternative folk scene—Kristen Hall and Kristian Bush. The trio decided to become a country band, hoping to break out of the small club circuit and make it big. They signed to Mercury Nashville record label in 2003, and released their first album, Twice the Speed of Life, the following year. Scoring a huge hit with "Baby Girl," Sugarland was soon on their way to country music superstardom. The song tells the story of a young singer's journey to stardom through a series of letters to her parents.
Their debut recording also featured several other hits, including "Something More" and "Stand Back Up," and eventually sold more than 2 million copies. Along with their commercial success, Sugarland earned a lot of critical praise as well. They were nominated for several Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards in 2005, winning for Top New Duo or Vocal Group.
In 2006, Sugarland went through some changes. Kristen Hall left the group early in the year to focus on songwriting. Now a duo, Sugarland toured with Kenny Chesney and released their second album Enjoy the Ride, which generated several top 10 country hits, including "Stay," "Everyday America," and "Settlin'."
Critics were especially impressed by "Stay," which won the ACM Awards for Single Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Nettles broke new ground with the track, becoming the first woman to have written the ACM Song of the Year by herself.
While "Stay" covers cheating, a popular subject in country music, it takes the unusual viewpoint of the other woman. Nettles' earnest twang and soulful voice helped make this song's story sound heartfelt and genuine and music fans responded enthusiastically to the track. "We're not writing a bunch of girl songs," Kristian Bush explained to Entertainment Weekly in 2008. "We're writing a bunch of human songs, delivered by a very powerful female singer."
Showing the group's versatility, Enjoy the Ride also featured such upbeat and humorous tracks as "Mean Girls." Brad Paisley helped out on the song. "He's one of the few guitar players in town that can translate humor," Kristian Bush told USA Today in 2006. "And that's a really funny song." All in all, the album was another huge hit for Sugarland, selling more than 2 million copies.
Also in 2006, Nettles also had success outside of Sugarland with her duet with rocker Jon Bon Jovi, "Who Says You Can't Go Home." Not only did this collaboration perform well on the country music charts, but the duo was nominated for several awards, including the Country Music Association (CMA) Award for Musical Event of the Year. The following year, Sugarland brought home their first CMA Award for Vocal Duo of the Year, breaking Brooks & Dunn's longstanding winning streak in that category.
With their third release, Love on the Inside (2008), Sugarland has proved to be one of the most popular acts in country music. The album sold more than 314,000 copies in its first week of release, spurred on by the success of its first single, "All I Want to Do." Later in the year, Sugarland released a deluxe edition of the album, which featured a cover of the Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town." Sugarland recorded their version of this alternative rock classic live with some help from Little Big Town and Jake Owen. The track serves an example of Nettles' and Bush's diverse musical interests and influences.
Nettles maintains a rigorous touring schedule with Sugarland, and the duo is known for giving their all at their shows. They have even borrowed a stunt from alternative rockers the Flaming Lips—traveling over the audience in a giant plastic ball—in an effort to entertain their fans.
In September 2008, Sugarland received five CMA Award nominations and won Vocal Duo of the Year. The duo continued to record, putting out a holiday album, Gold and Green, the following year. In 2010, they released The Incredible Machine, which featured such hit tracks as "Stuck Like Glue."
Nettles decided to branch out on her own. She worked with Rick Rubin on her solo album That Girl, which is set for a January 2014 release. In an interview with the Associated Press, Nettles described the recording as her "most intimate and personal" work of her career.
Nettles is married to entrepreneur Justin Miller, a former model. The couple wed in November 2011, and they welcomed their first child in December 2012. Their son is named Magnus Hamilton Miller.
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