Sweet Sixteen

updated 05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 01:00AM

You can't always wear what you want. Especially when Mom is your fashion consultant. "We talked about it when Jennifer Lopez wore that dress at the Grammys," says 16-year-old Jessica Andrews. By order of her mother, Vicki, the teen singer plans to don a much tamer dress when she performs at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles. "I never pushed it," says Andrews, "because nothing's really there to reveal. If I had something, I probably would."

She may not look grown up, but given the power of her voice, Andrews certainly sounds it. On May 3, she will belt out her hit "Unbreakable Heart" (from her debut album, Heart Shaped World) at the ACMAs, where she is vying for Top New Female Vocalist honors against Julie Reeves and Chalee Tennison. Despite the big voice, Andrews is not country's answer to Britney Spears. "She doesn't want to look older or act older," says Vicki, 43, who quit driving a school bus in 1998 to tour with Jessica. "She's just who she is."

The younger of two daughters, Andrews was raised in Huntingdon, Tenn., by Vicki and father Jessie, 43, a door-factory worker. A professional performer since age 10, she is currently on the road with Trisha Yearwood. Indeed, her career takes priority over everything, including a traditional education. "I've never been in high school," says Andrews, who is homeschooled by Vicki. As for college, she adds, "I'll probably do it by correspondence courses." Spoken like a roads scholar.

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