FOR PAM TILLIS, THE ROAD TO SUCCESS was more a U-turn, bringing her right home to where she got started. Back in her Nashville teens, she had begun a country music career as a Stutterette, one of the backup vocalists for her daddy, Mel Tillis. Dad had parlayed singing, songwriting ("Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town") and a stutter into country stardom, but Pam found sharing his stage "like being a little plant in the shade of a big tree. I couldn't grow."

Now, at 33, Tillis has found her own place in the sun. After seven scuffling years and one LP as a would-be rock singer-songwriter, she has hit the charts—the country charts—with a new album titled Put Yourself in My Place and No. 1 single, "Don't Tell Me What to Do." "About five or six years ago a bunch of rock bands were really getting into country music," says Tillis of her musical about-face. "I said, 'Wait a minute; I do this stuff good. I don't even have to learn it.' "

Now living in a quiet Nashville neighborhood, Tillis shares a two-story Tudor-style home with Ben, her 12-year-old son from her first marriage, and country songwriter Bob DiPiero, 40, her husband of three months. No longer intimidated by her father's success, Pam says she's even thinking of recording a dad-and-daughter duet on a future album. And that suits Mel, 58, just fine. "I tried to get her to cut this kind of music for 11 years," he says. "I'm not saying, 'I told you so,' but with the Tillis name, people just think country."