Jennifer NettlesEvery time Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles hears a country artist on pop radio -- such as Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, tossed in the musical mix with the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Britney Spears -- she gets over-the-moon excited and filled with hope. That's because a few years ago, such a country-pop blend of music was unheard of, when pop was dominating the charts.

"When I see little Taylor Swift, I say, 'Go go go,'' Jennifer tells the Baltimore Sun newspaper. "Darwin had it right. It's much like genetic mutation. If you continue in this incestuous, homogenous genetic pool, you're going to get some freaks. You've got to get out there and diversify the gene pool."

What really excites Jennifer is what she's been hearing from fans backstage at Sugarland shows. "I don't know how many times at meet-and-greets we get people who come up and say, 'I don't like country music, but I like what you do,'" Jennifer notes. "And we say, 'You are who we write records for, my friend, come on over!'"

With their fourth album scheduled to be released mid-summer, Sugarland have been giving concertgoers sneak peeks from their coming album, which Jennifer calls 'free-form,' because it covers a wider spectrum than their latest release.

"We push and stretch but we don't force," she explains. "It's not like Sugarland is making a thrash metal record," she hastens to point out. "Nobody is going to be shocked ... but I hope people are pleasantly surprised."

And no matter what she sings with partner Kristian Bush, Jennifer positively basks in the "communal experience" of blending harmonies with him. "I love the practice of it, I love the metaphor and I love what I feel is a spiritual part of it -- a metaphysical portion," she reflects. "Two voices, two notes come together and have a certain resonance ... they vibrate in a certain way. It's fascinating, even on a scientific level, to think we would be drawn to that as humans."

On a songwriting level, Jennifer is ever-angsting over ever writing a song again like the Grammy-winning smash she wrote on her couch, 'Stay.' "Every time I write a song, I feel like ... 'Oh my gosh, that's it, I'm never going to write a good one again,'" she sighs. "But you always want to continue to better yourself and write a song that, in my case, will have as much connection as 'Stay' has had. And I believe it's totally possible."

Sugarland are in the midst of the Incredible Machine tour, pulling into 55 cities nationwide.

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