Jessica Simpson


Jessica Simpson continues to follow in Carrie Underwood's footsteps.

Proving that she's really serious about this country thing, the 28-year-old Texan joined the Country Music Association last week, E! News has learned.

"She was very sweet and seemed happy to join the organization," a Simpson source said. "Being a member makes you part of the industry. It’s great for networking. “

Along with SAG-style privileges, such as special-rate health insurance, her membership makes her a voting member of the CMA, meaning she could have a say in upcoming CMA Award nominations.

The flirtatious "Come on Over," her first twangtastic single for Columbia Nashville, peaked at No. 18 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart after debuting at No. 41, despite a whole bunch of radio play.

The tune itself received a pretty warm "Howdy!" from critics, but a better test of Simpson's down-home staying power will be the performance of her sixth studio album, Do You Know, which is due out Sept. 9. Dolly Parton duets on the title track, ensuring some street cred right off the bat.

The CMA's roster boasts more than 6,000 artists, songwriters, recording execs, producers, radio personalities and other prominent country figures.

That lineup includes Underwood, a CMA member, winner of four CMA Awards and the ex-girlfriend of current Simpson flame Tony Romo.

"It's definitely media-driven," Simpson told country-music website last week, referring to Underwood's recent comments to Allure about still getting calls from Romo. "People are just trying to make a story out of nothing. I respect her and hopefully she respects me. We've just dated the same guy—that's it!"

"I don't understand why she would say that," Simpson added. "I respect Carrie, and I would never say anything like that."

As far as Underwood's musical success is concerned, however, Simpson had nothing but respect for the 25-year-old hit machine.

"I think it's impressive how many No. 1s Carrie Underwood has," the country newcomer said graciously. "Her choice in songs is really great, and she has an incredible voice. As far as new people, she has one of the strongest voices out there."

Additional reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum

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