When Jamie-Lynn Sigler auditioned for the role of Meadow, the feisty daughter of mob boss Tony Soprano, in HBO's "The Sopranos," she thought the show would lean more toward pop music than guys who pop guns.
"I'm actually a singer-turned-actress, which a lot of people don't know," the Long Island, New York, native explained recently. "I sang and danced and did musical theater my whole life before 'The Sopranos.' I actually went out for the show because I thought it was about singing. When you hear 'sopranos,' you naturally think singing, not the Mafia. Obviously, I've been pleasantly surprised."
When Sigler set out to record her debut album, Here to Heaven, which was released October 16, she expected flak from fans who couldn't imagine her outside the show.
"Absolutely," said Sigler, who also voices the singing bellybutton in the ubiquitous Levi commercials. "A lot of people are skeptical because they don't want to see Meadow as a pop singer."
Sigler's recording opportunity knocked when a talent scout for Edel Entertainment heard Meadow singing TLC's "No Scrubs" during the show's second season.
"He asked me to come in and work on a demo," she recalled. "I didn't even put much energy or thought toward it because I was filming at the same time. I literally got a call one day and they said, 'You've got a record deal.'"
Sigler sings of her job juggling on "Pressure," one of three tracks she wrote for the album.
The album's first single is the spry "Cry Baby," which concerns a guy not scoring with Sigler. "I know what you got in mind/ All good things come in time," she sings.
"What appealed to me about the song is how funky it is," she said. "I pictured myself dancing. I'm always the girl on the dancefloor in the club."
The video was shot a couple of weeks ago and should hit the airwaves before the end of the month. "The video's very light and girlie," Sigler explained. "It kind of has a 'Grease' feel to it. It's about a guy dropping me off and trying to get into the house. We play pranks on him."
Sigler sounds ready to give in to her passion on "Ole Ole," in which she yearns for a Latin lover. The track is one of three she cut both in English and Spanish versions. "I was raised by my grandmother, and she only speaks Spanish," said Sigler, the daughter of a Cuban mother and Greek-Romanian father.
The other Sopranos don't necessarily share Sigler's taste in contemporary artists such as Janet Jackson and Jay-Z. "I don't have many people I can listen to my music with on the set," she bemoaned. "All the guys listen to Frank Sinatra. Robert [Iler], who plays my brother, listens to Slipknot and Pantera."
Production for the fourth season of "The Sopranos" begins November 8 and ends in April. Although she doesn't yet know what will happen to Meadow when the show airs again in September 2002, Sigler hopes her character takes off where she ended last season: hitting the bottle.
"I hope she's gonna be a raging alcoholic," Sigler said with a smile. "Something juicy I can sink my teeth into."