Sheryl Crow now lives in Nashville. She has enjoyed two hit country duets with Kid Rock (with whom she'll tour this summer). She has performed on the Country Music Association Awards, on a tribute album to country legend Loretta Lynn and on Brad Paisley's upcoming album.
Is Crow ready to make her own country album?
"Funny you should ask. I'm working on it right now," said Crow, who will perform Saturday at the 29th annual Pacer Center benefit in Minneapolis. "I'm doing some work with Brad Paisley. I've been doing a lot of writing. Hopefully it'll be out early next year."
The nine-time Grammy-winning pop star thinks the lyrics will make this project seem country.
"I already had a pretty strong country influence in my music," she said recently from Nashville. "You listen to 'Strong Enough' and 'If It Makes You Happy' and 'Hard to Make a Stand,' there's a lot of country influence in there already, but there's just no pedal steel and no fiddle. The lyrics are nearing what I consider straightforward country lyrics; they're a little left of center.
"I had a huge response after I sang 'Coal Miner's Daughter' with Loretta Lynn [on the CMA Awards]. That's the kind of country music I really love -- the old-fashioned Jimmie Rodgers, Carter Family, Loretta Lynn kind of country music. It will be more old-fashioned than it will be new country."
Crow, 49, moved to Nashville full-time five years ago. With her sister Kathy nearby and their parents three hours away, she thinks it's the right place to raise her two sons, who turned 4 and 1 this weekend.
"My life is easier and better than it was in L.A.," said Crow, who spent 20 years in Los Angeles but grew up in southern Missouri not far from the Tennessee border. "In L.A. there's a lot more paparazzi around. It's a more difficult place for me to raise my kids. My family all lives down here, and I need them to help me. I love the people down here. I love the music down here. It just suits me better."
Crow recorded her most recent two albums, 2008's "Detours" and 2010's "100 Miles From Memphis," on her Nashville farm. This spring, she published an organic cookbook, "If It Makes You Healthy," inspired by her experience as a breast cancer survivor.
"I feel like food is a major contributor to staying well, disease prevention and immune-boosting," said Crow, who has worked with a personal chef since her cancer diagnosis five years ago. "There is so much I think every parent can benefit from. Everything in it is very tasty, but it's also a great handbook."
Always a teacher
A Missouri elementary school teacher before heading to the music biz in Los Angeles, Crow is also an activist involved with various educational, environmental and breast-cancer groups. One reason she's playing the Pacer Center benefit is because the Twin Cities organization works with children who have disabilities. Plus, the gig fit in perfectly with the start of her regular tour.
Motherhood has had a profound impact on her career, but not exactly in the way her mentor and friend Stevie Nicks had warned her. On a recent "Oprah Winfrey Show," Crow shared the story of Nicks, who is childless, telling her not to have kids because it would impair her songwriting.
"We've joked about it and she adamantly denies having said that and I probably got it a little backwards," Crow said. "It's a tradeoff. I love having kids and I love having a family. I get to make music when I feel like it and hopefully people will relate to it. It works out the way it's going to work out."
Being on tour with her sons is easier than being at home, she said, because things are more regimented on the road. She spends the daytime with them.
She is looking forward to touring with Kid Rock this summer -- and not just to sing "Picture" and "Collide."
"It's not very often that you get to have a counterpart like Tammy [Wynette] and George [Jones] had or Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn had. You definitely don't see it in pop music," she said. "I love Bobby [Kid Rock's real name]. He's a great person. He's a good dad. He has an amazing kid.
"Bobby is very excited about spending time with my kids. My son Wyatt loves Bobby. He's been over at his house and jumped off his diving board. It's definitely going to be a fun summer."