Jessica Simpson has survived her first CMA Music Festival -- her first of many, if she has any say in it. The pop turned country star signed hundreds of autographs over the weekend and introduced country fans to her new single, 'Come On Over' -- the song that made her the highest charting debut solo country artist in Billboard history. Simpson, who co-wrote her country debut, says she is fine with the rather backhanded compliments she's received on the song.

"A lot of people have listened to 'Come On Over' and told me, 'I really wanted to hate it, but I like it,' " she told Nashville's Tennessean newspaper.

So why would someone actually want to dislike the song?

"I think just because my name is attached to it," Simpson explains. "Or maybe they thought that I was just trying to stomp on their ground for a little bit and see what I could do, and then just go back and make another pop record. But I'm planning on making country for the rest of my life, and I don't want to go back to that other world."

The 27-year-old Texas native insists that her biggest musical influences have always been country. She even tried writing in Nashville for some of her pop records, but her label rejected the resulting music.

"I got signed when I was 17, and I was just happy to have a record deal," she said. "I thought what I was supposed to do was go in the studio and sing, and I was just excited for the opportunity. By album three, I was writing in Nashville, and it sounded kind of country and the label said, 'Absolutely not. We signed you as a pop artist.' "

Simpson finally stood up for herself last year, telling her label that she wouldn't make another album unless it was country. Still, she was leery of diving into this new musical world.

"The first day of recording vocals, I didn't want to go to the studio," she said of her upcoming album's first recording session. "Fear can ruin people's lives. It handicaps you. But that day, I sang two songs, and it was like I stepped outside of myself, watched and listened and thought, 'Hey, that is you, Jess!' I called my dad and said, 'I'm back.' "

Simpson's yet-to-be-titled country album is due September 9. And if it fails to have impressive sales, the singer says she'll just make another . . . and another. And if her record label refuses to pay for this perseverance?

"Then I'm going to pay for it myself. I'm not giving up, and I'm going to make country music," she says. "It's a spiritual thing for me, like 'I know God has a plan and a purpose . . . For the first time in my life, I take a lot of pride in my talent and in the record I was able to put together. With the writers, I felt comfortable opening up, because the only way this opportunity was going to be a great one was to be honest with myself and with them. If I want to be singing it for the rest of my life onstage, I want it to be honest."

Simpson's commitment to country is also apparently transpiring to her image. E! Online is reporting that her album cover will feature a photo of the blond beauty wearing a cowboy hat, boots and jeans.

Listen to 'Come On Over'

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