Natalie Hemby has written some of the biggest hits in modern country music: Little Big Town's "Pontoon," "Downtown" by Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert's "White Liar," among others (not to mention 10 tracks on Lambert's recent album, The Weight of These Wings). She has proven herself to be one of the more prolific tunesmiths in country music today -- but her talents go far beyond her writing abilities: Hemby is also a talented singer, which she illustrates on her own debut album, Puxico, released in January.

"I’ve been used to being in the background, because I’ve grown up in Nashville; I’ve been around famous people all my life. It’s been interesting watching people," Hemby tells The Boot. "I really do love artists, and I love singing, but turning 40 for me, I’m just like, 'You know what? I just want to put out something that I wanted to say myself -- the kind of music that I wanted to play and want people to hear.'"

A nine-track record, written entirely by Hemby, Puxico has received positive reviews from both critics and Hemby's artist friends in Music City.

"We don’t call each other and say, ‘Hey, would you hook me up on social media?’ So it is sincere, and that’s a good, wonderful thing," Hemby admits. "If I’m excited about one of their records, I’m posting all about it. That’s Nashville: It’s a community. We’re very supportive of each other. We’re lucky to have that."

In addition to Hemby's friends, the release of Puxico also impressed two of country music's biggest stars, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. The country couple has invited Hemby to open for them at a few shows on their Soul2Soul Tour -- an invite that she wasn't expecting even as the phone call was happening.

"Jason Owen, Faith and Tim’s manager, called me; I was at TJ Maxx, and he was like, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you.’ Because he’s also Little Big Town’s manager, I thought, 'Well, they want to cut one of my songs,'" Hemby recalls. "He said, ‘I have something to tell you: Tim and Faith have chosen you to come out for a weekend and open for them.’ And I said, ‘Okay, I’m in TJ Maxx right now, and I need to find an ottoman to sit down, because I’m about to pass out.’

"So I’ve been practicing, and I’m losing weight, and I’m gonna be amazing. I’m Cinderella showing up to this ball," Hemby adds. "I’ve been waiting 40 years for something like this. It’s going to be awesome."

Hemby will join McGraw and Hill's 2017 Soul2Soul Tour on Aug. 24 in Fargo, N.D., and on Aug. 25-26 for back-to-back shows in St. Paul, Minn. Puxico is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.

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