"The priorities were as follows," says Judd, 39. "I wanna tour, yes. I want a No. 1 record, yes. For the last couple years it wasn't as important; it's important to me now. I'm ready to go."
"What the World..." debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country charts in its first week of release, and landed at No. 8 on the Top 200. Radio & Records, meanwhile, named the title track as the most added country single of the year so far.
All of this is a boost for Judd, a 20-year singing veteran whose last album, 2000's "New Day Dawning," failed to go gold after a platinum-plus career as a solo artist and with her mother Naomi in the group The Judds.
"All of a sudden, I'm making a comeback," says Judd, who resides on a 1,000-acre compound near Nashville that's been dubbed Peaceful Valley by Judd's mother and her sister, actress Ashley Judd, who also have houses there.
"It's just simply down to country radio has accepted me into their format. I just keep doing my thing and it sticks sometimes. You follow your heart and let your gut be your guide, and all of a sudden I'm commercial again. I'll take it. And, I must say, it feels really great."
Judd -- who began her solo career in 1992, when the Judds stopped working due to Naomi Judd's health -- credits "What the World..." producer Dann Huff for her new round of success. Judd went to Huff, the architect behind hits for Faith Hill and Jewel, primarily to help her achieve chart success again.
"He's all about the industry and has his finger on the pulse," says Judd, who has two children -- son Elijah, 8, and daughter Grace, 7 -- from her first marriage and is engaged to longtime bodyguard Dan Roach.
"(Huff) jumped right in my lunch and said `This is what you need to do.' He said ,`Look, you need a hit. I'm not gonna cut anything that's not a hit.'
"In the past, I wasn't ready for that. I'm an artist; I listen to my own voice. It's a very lonely path sometimes, `cause you're like the only one in your boat. With Dann I had somebody in there with me, fighting over the oar."
"What the World..." also includes Judd's version of Elvis Presley's "Burnin' Love," which first appeared in the soundtrack of the 2002 film "Lilo & Stitch," as well as a cover of Foreigner's 1984 chart-topper "I Want to Know What Love Is," which features a guest solo by rock guitar hero Jeff Beck.
Judd plans to tour extensively to support "What the World..." -- and given the early reaction to the album, she says she can't wait to see her audience again.
"This is my 20th year; I really deserve to have a party because of all this work and hard, long days of being in this business," Judd notes. "I'm ready to have a celebration. And I'm just glad to still be here -- alive and better, not bitter, from the journey."
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