"It was a big internal battle for me, between being a vamp and being credible as an artist," Crow informed 25 students at GRAMMY SoundChecks, a program that offers students the opportunity to experience a sound-check rehearsal with an artist.
Crow said her experiments with different looks did not always sit well with record label execs – or fans.
"One time I colored my hair dark and had a meeting at the label and one of the guys looked at me, obviously upset and said, 'You're going to change that back, right?' " she said. "Then when I cut my hair short, my career tanked for about four years!"
Crow, 46, said she was once afraid that looking good would mean she wasn't a "credible" artist. But those days are long gone. "At this age, I'm just a lot more relaxed about it," she told the audience. "I can look pretty and wear make-up and not be afraid it will take away my credibility."
Tour Kicks OffCrow certainly doesn't have to worry about success anymore. Her 25-city Detours tour kicks off Thursday at the Sommet Center in Nashville, where she lives on a rural farm with 15-month old son Wyatt and a stable full of horses.
Nowadays, Crow measures her credibility by her mothering skills. Her phone rang several times during the event and she smiled, explaining that it was the nanny, checking on Wyatt's bedtime. "I've been away from him all day. I'm always with him. He comes on the road and has 30 daddies to carry him around. It's hard, not being there to put him to bed."
Despite her busy schedule, she says being a mom and living in Nashville gives her a chance to have a low-key life with her son. "It's easy to live here. There's no paparazzi hounding you. People are very genuine and easygoing."
Still, it's not that normal: Crow keeps some high-wattage company in town. "I had lunch recently with Sara Evans and Faith Hill," she said. "No one bothered us at all. We were able to eat and talk and enjoy each other's company."