It's been a long, hard road to Jamie O'Neal's new studio album.

The singer -- whose 2000 debut album, 'Shiver,' yielded hit songs including 'There Is No Arizona' and 'When I Think About Angels,' is releasing 'Eternal'  on Tuesday (May 27). The project -- which she produced with her husband and collaborator, Rodney Good -- features O'Neal's new interpretations of some classic songs, and before it could see release, she's had to fight to re-order her professional life after litigation has tied up some of her recordings for years.

O'Neal announced the formation of her own record label, Momentum Label Group, in 2012. She's releasing her new album via a partnership Shanachie Records. Highlights of the album include 'Golden Ring' -- which features Andy Griggs -- and 'Wide Awake,' the sole original composition on the new project.

'Eternal' is available for download at iTunes.

O'Neal will promote the new album with numerous appearances during Nashville's 2014 CMA Music Festival, beginning Tuesday, June 5, when she'll perform with Ty Herndon and Griggs at the Guitars & Country Stars Fan Appreciation Show at Miss Jeanne's Dinner Theatre. On Friday, June 6, O'Neal is slated to perform at the Hard Rock Cafe stage in downtown Nashville, and on Sunday, June 8, she'll perform a few songs and answer fan questions during the GAC Music Fest Breakfast.

O'Neal will also be on hand to sign autographs for fans at the CMA booth throughout the festival, as well as her own Momentum Label Booth (#540) located in the in the Music City Center.

The Boot caught up with Jamie O'Neal recently to discuss 'Eternal,' her fight for career independence and more in the following interview.

This is your first project in quite a few years. Why the long delay between albums?

It has been a long time coming. We had 'Like a Woman' out, and we were in the beginning stages of planning to do this album, but unfortunately, that label, what they wanted to do was a new album, and those songs got held up in a lawsuit. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. So we were finally able to get back to our plan of wanting to record these great songs, and give an homage to those that came and paved the way before me.

What was the subject of the lawsuit?

It's still ongoing, to be honest with you. It's an independent label that was started by somebody that had no idea what he was doing in the music business. Kind of a scary thing that people can come to Nashville and open up a label, and start recording and signing artists, and this kind of thing can happen very easily. But I sold over 40,000 downloads of 'Like a Woman' and never made a dime as a writer. My co-writers never got paid. I never got paid as a producer, never got paid for the actual recording, which we did at our studio. They owe us thousands of dollars. The union is taking him to court, but they hide behind an LLC.

Not to dwell on the negative. [Laughs.] But people want to know.

So many female artists that I work with, new girls that come to town haven't even heard of Patsy Cline. They haven't heard any of her music. And to me that's kind of sad.

When you've been absent from the marketplace for a long stretch, obviously fans start to wonder what's going on.

People always think, as an artist, that you get to choose everything, from what your single is, to when it comes out, to your photos and everything. And what I've found with starting Momentum is, that is something that the artst can have a hand in. But at the bigger companies, you don't. You don't know when your single is gonna come out, and you don't get to say which one it's gonna be, and so you're kind of at the mercy of that when it comes to the fans saying, "Where have you been? How come you haven't had any music out?"

What gave you the idea for a record of covers? It's obviously something you've wanted to do for a while.

Yes. I feel like there's so many great artists and great songs on the radio today, but at the same time we've sort of gotten really far away from our roots and where we came from. To me, I feel like if I can be one small part of reminding people the rich heritage we have, and the amazing artists that started this whole genre in the first place -- Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline. So many female artists that I work with, new girls that come to town haven't even heard of Patsy Cline. They haven't heard any of her music. And to me that's kind of sad.

When you throw it open to doing covers, you have an almost infinite number of song possibilities. How did you narrow it down to the songs that are on here?

Lots of arguing with my husband. [Laughs.] We listened to so many songs, and we sang so many songs, because I really wanted it to be something that I felt like I could do a great job on, and it still represented me and my voice in the right way. We did cut a couple of songs that didn't make it on the album, just because we felt, 'Oh, that doesn't really sound like me.'

But these songs, we just narrowed it down to the ones I absolutely fell in love with years ago and carried with me, like 'Help Me Make It Through the Night' and 'I've Done Enough Dyin' Today.' Those are songs from when I was a kid. I didn't even know that they meant, I just loved them. The Juice Newton song 'The Sweetest Thing,' you know, songs that I've been carrying around for a long time with the intent of recording them someday, whether it was on a whole album, or just one or two on an original album.

And it just so happens that we got this time, because of my original songs being held up with the lawsuit, that we are able to put out something in the meantime for the fans. That for me is really important.

Some of the songs aren't that well-known. Some of the songs are just songs that I love, and that I hope everyone else gets to discover.

Did you record these songs recently, or are these recordings that go back a few years?

It's a little bit of a variety of different things, but we finished the album last year, and then we started shopping around for somebody to partner up with.

It's important to make sure that, first and foremost, somebody believes in you, and it's not just about how many can you sell.

How does that process work?

A lot of talking, a lot of figuring out what the right way to go is, and how we're gonna get it out there and market it. Shanachie had a great team of people that really believed, and that's what I really think, in the career that I've had, and the ups and downs -- I've had so many great things happen, and yet so many tough things as well. It's important to make sure that, first and foremost, somebody believes in you, and it's not just about how many can you sell. They're really passionate about your voice and your talent, and what you can bring to the table.

When you're partnering up to bring new music to the marketplace yourself, what are the positives and negatives of being with your own label?

I think when you have your own thing going on -- like my husband and I have our own recording studio -- you never finish working. You don't just hand it over to someone. You kind of mother over it. And you also have enough rope to hang yourself when it comes to what you can do, and what you want to do, because you don't have anyone telling you that you can't, like you do at a major.

At the same time, the budget's a lot smaller. [Laughs.] That could be one of the negatives. You're not spending somebody else's money. You're spending your own.

The upside to that is that you actually get to keep the profits. In so many cases, fans don't realize how many artists with major label deals are upside down on those deals. Many of them are never going to see any profit at all.

Yeah, not with record sales, that's for sure. If you do have success, there's the touring and the songwriting and everything like that. There's a lot of upsides to having a major record deal, and there's a lot more freedom in having an independent. You can own your own masters, and if something successful does happen, you have a lot more control.

Some of the songs aren't that well-known. Some of the songs are just songs that I love, and that I hope everyone else gets to discover.

What role does the internet play in that -- is is better for an artist in your position, or does it make it even tougher?

I think it's great. We'll see. I don't know yet, as far as putting something new out. I know that with [Momentum flagship artist] Rachele [Lynae], it's great to see what the fans are saying and how they react to certain songs, and how many downloads you have, how many views and that kind of thing. You can actually see the progress a lot more than you could before the internet.

What about the concerns that everyone has -- everyone in the business is really concerned about the opportunity for piracy that brings.

Yeah, we had somebody that put the album up for download a couple of weeks ago, every single song. And it's just -- on the one hand it's flattering that anybody would care to do that, and on the other hand it's like, 'Oh really?' Kind of annoying. [Laughs.] But I just feel like, what are you gonna do? There's really nothing you can do about it. They've been trying for years. So you just have to ask to have it taken down, and forge forward.

There's a lot of litigation going on right now between some of the performing rights organizations and streaming services like Spotify and so on. What's your position on that as a writer -- is it as hard as people are saying right now, to make a living as a songwriter?

I think it is. I think it's really, really hard. Probably the hardest it's ever been, in a way, because a lot of artists are writing with songwriters, and not wanting to cut songs that they're not a part of. And a lot of the companies that sign them are wanting a piece of that. So it's kind of this big cycle.

Where it used to be, if someone had 12 songs on an album, it meant 12 different combinations of writers would get cuts on the album. Also, artists are coming out with a single, and maybe not even putting out an album after that, maybe doing just a short EP, or maybe they're waiting to see if they have success before they release an album.

It's all kinds of things. I see publishing companies closing down all the time. It's definitely gotten a lot smaller, and the sad thing is when you see a lot of great writers who aren't able to make a living at it anymore. They're having to do other things, or moving away. To me it's really sad, because there's so much talent, and there's so many songs just sitting on shelves. Back catalogs of great songs, just sitting there.

How did Andy Griggs get involved in this album?

He and I have been touring together for a year and a half, doing different shows. We just did a country cruise in January, and we just have so much fun. He's a great friend, we sing really well together. I love his voice, and I love his spirit that he brings to it, and that song is such an important song on the album -- you know, trying to measure up to George [Jones] and Tammy [Wynette]. So I think Andy does a darn fine job of trying. Hopefully we brought something of our own to the table as well.

How do you work this material into your existing set?

We do kind of a section, a broken-down section in the show of the classics, and talk about the album. So we do some hits, and then we do maybe a couple of new songs that people haven't heard -- original songs -- and then we do the section of this classics album. And then we do a couple of songs that other people have cut that I wrote, and usually my daughter comes out and sings with us as well. And then we close the show with a couple more hits.

Both of your parents are singers. Is it something that you would want for your daughter?

I think if she's passionate about it. I think you have to support whatever their dream is. It's a tough life, and she's definitely seen some ups and downs of it. I think we can explain all of that to her, and if she still wants it, then I say go for it. If she doesn't -- whatever she chooses.

What does the future hold in terms of moving forward with another album of original songs? Does the lawsuit put that on hold indefinitely?

No, I've got a bunch of new songs as well. I'd like to record a new album next year. This one's gonna come out first, and then I think we're actually able to start recording by the middle of next year. So that's my plan.