Life just keeps getting sweeter for "Strawberry Wine" singer DEANA CARTER.

After selling over four million copies of her first album Did I Shave My Legs For This?, the Nashville-born daughter of revered session guitarist and songwriter FRED CARTER JR. is back with a thrilling new album.

A happy home life, good friends, a zest for golf and a share in the chart-topping success of the soundtrack to the SANDRA BULLOCK movie Hope Floats  with her song "What Makes You Stay" also gives her plenty of reasons to smile.

"I feel really great!" Deana tells COUNTRY WEEKLY.

"My marriage is wonderful. In fact, I'm wearing his jeans right now!" she laughs.

"I steal his clothes and take them on the road, because that's all I get," Deana jokes.

Deana's even going to be spending less time with husband CHRIS DiCROCE in the future. A Fall tour with ALAN JACKSON and the prep and promotion work required to set up her follow-up album to the immensely successful Did I Shave My Legs For This? means that family days will be at a premium.

Everything's Gonna Be All Right  hit the stores September 22, and the former rehabilitation therapist admits she'd like to see her husband more often.

"It's difficult," Deana admits. "I'm home for a day, less than 48 hours usually, and there's just no decompression mode. None. By the time we get there in the evening of the second night, he's taking me back to the bus and we're leaving again. It's torturous, man! By the time you relax around each other long enough to be gooey, then it's time to leave.

"It's like being on a permanent date -- the first date at that! None of the juicy stuff happens!"

Deana laughs.

"I'm kidding!" she says. "It's just real hard to be considerate of their space. Cause it's all theirs when you're not there, and when you come home, all of a sudden it's yours and you haven't been around. There are lots of bumper cars in the road."

The uneven schedule also plays havoc with family plans. Deana says that although she would love to have children in the future, there are no plans at the moment for the pitter-patter of tiny feet.

"Chris is Italian. You talk about kids and he turns white as a sheet," she laughs. " We do want to have kids. I really do. I know he does too, he's just a little scared to admit it. But I don't know when. I'm soon to be 33, and that clock is ticking, and it's just hard to figure out because I'm in love with this album, too.

"I want to do a worldwide release with this so that means traveling a lot, and putting the time into it, so you're looking at least at another year-and-a-half before you can even think about family. Then our schedules are so sporadic that it would take an act of God for that even to happen. And I don't want to be pregnant on New Year's Eve in 1999 because I want to go have fun! "

Deana shrugs, and then smiles.

"But you know, I prayed about my husband coming to me, and that worked out great. I prayed about my career, doing the right things for the right reasons, and that has been very fulfilling. I pray about the kids thing too, and I think that'll come when it does."

At the moment, Deana has a creative child in mind: her new album Everything's Gonna Be All Right.

"I think it's a great piece of work," Deana states, her soft, feminine Southern accent glowing with pride.

"I'm just really proud of it. It's my blood and guts. It's like giving birth."

Deana says fans who loved Did I Shave My Legs For This? will notice a change of direction with the 13-song Everything's Gonna Be All Right.

"I didn't want to try to recreate the first album, because that was a point in my life that came out of me at that point of my life," Deana explains. "I wanted to be as honest with myself musically as I was the first time around. As we dug a little deeper, more of my different genres and backgrounds of music came through, as did my love for the groove.

"The groove is essential to music. It's got to be there. So my love of that, combined with the country elements and the '70s overtones that I grew up with, and two more years of security and comfort and experience and confidence."

Deana says there's something for everyone on the new record.

"There's something on there for the people that have my first album and there's something on there for people who don't know anything about me, that never heard of me."

And there's a special family connection: her noted musician father Fred wrote the song that the album's named after, "Everything's Gonna Be All Right."

"I wanted it to be the title of my record because it's a song that my Dad wrote when I was little," Deana says. "I was probably in kindergarten or younger when it was written, and it's such a positive message for our family for a lot of different reasons.

"It's always been this little silent anthem that we've all loved, all of us. It helped my aunt get through about 15 years of breast cancer, and although she eventually passed away, it was such a little beacon for us.

"It really says a lot for everybody. Everything's going to be all right, people. Do the best you can do, for yourself and for other people. That's what this album represents."

Deana also reveals that Dad had no idea his daughter had even considered the song for the album, let alone cut it.

She surprised him."He had no clue!" she says. "I told him to come down to the studio because I wanted him to play with me, just us two on guitars, and I sang a song called `Learning How To Crawl,' which didn't make the record. But it was a nice thing for the two of us to do together.

"So we were upstairs in the studio, and I said, `Dad, I want you to come and hear this one track that we did because it's getting a little confusing. I just want to know what you think, because we don't know what to do with it.' But it was all done. He and Mom walked downstairs and we had the video camera going. It was very moving.

"When he heard the first few beats, and we did it authentic to the way it was recorded originally -- with a `Welcome Back Kotter' vibe to it, he turned around and looked at us and said, 'Wow!'

"It was neat."

While her Dad has known his little girl for her entire lifetime, Deana says her fans too will get to know her through Everything's Gonna Be All Right.

"The one thing I hope they can feel is a little more of me," she says. "I want them to feel like they know me a little bit better. I want them to know that I'm proud to wear my heart on my sleeve more than anything. I don't think that's such a bad thing. Especially in the world today, I think that's a great thing. More people should.

"I want to be an example that says honesty is okay, and feelings are good. We don't have to grow up masking what we really want to be."

Deana has one other piece of advice.

"Follow your dreams. Don't let anybody tell you you can't.

One thing I want to say on an awards show if I ever get the opportunity, is that I really want to thank everybody who has discouraged me and encouraged me, because it all was encouraging. That was the deal. Nobody can drag you down unless you let them. You should kind of catapult yourself off of every experience in an upward motion, as hard as it is to do."

Recording and touring haven't been her only pleasures. She's been bonding with musical pals JO DEE MESSINA, MATRACA BERG and TRISHA YEARWOOD both at home and on the road, and hitting the greens with the guys.

"I'm getting to hang with some of the guys by playing golf," Deana says. "NEAL McCOYwent out with us, TRACY LAWRENCE -- it's a good excuse to play with people you're on the road with.

"They don't believe that I really play. They just think I'm a beer girl out on the course for the day," she laughs.

But Deana maintains that golf is one of her biggest passions, and she vows to improve her game to competitive levels.

"That's become my main recent obsession. I figure if I ever need to take some time off, I want to be good enough to be an amateur on the U.S. Women's Open," she says. "I'm serious about it. I want to be good enough to play -- really play -- so that the commentators can bleep out my "missed cut" words," she giggles.

She also plans to eventually host her own charity golf tournament.

"I'd like to get some of the movie stars to come out and other entertainers," she says.

More than anything, the singing and songwriting Southern belle says she's thrilled fans are accepting her at face value.

"I think one of the most wonderful things about success is I'm getting my point across as far as just being Deana. I feel that like people are resting easy in the fact that they are getting what they see. I'm more able to be myself because of the love that's reciprocated. That is awesome."



-- Nick Krewen



1995 -- Did I Shave My Legs For This? -- Capitol

1998 -- Everything's Gonna Be All Right



1998 -- Various Artists, Touched By An Angel -- The Album -- Columbia

1998 -- Various Artists, Hope Floats



1996 -- "Strawberry Wine" (2 weeks)

1996 -- "We Danced Anyway" (2 weeks)

1997 -- "How Do I Get There"


1999 -- Paul Brandt, That's The Truth


1997 -- Single Of The Year, Country Music Association - "Strawberry Wine"

1997 -- Song Of The Year, Country Music Association -- "Strawberry Wine"


©1998, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink


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