Miranda Lambert was just 19 when the Lindale, Texas, native was introduced to country music fans on the debut season of the USA Network's Nashville Star nine years ago. She finished third behind Buddy Jewell and John Arthur Martinez, but there is no doubt who has made the most from exposure on the show.
Beginning with "Kerosene," which was released in 2005, Lambert has produced three straight platinum albums, and her current album, "Four the Record," has already been certified gold since its release in November. She is the reigning female vocalist of the year for the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, and last year "The House That Built Me" earned Lambert her first Grammy award.
In addition to being one of the most popular solo acts in country music, Lambert got together last year with friends Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, forming the Pistol Annies, and released an album "Hell on Heels," which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's country albums chart in August.
Lambert's "On Fire" tour will stop at Toledo's Huntington Center Thursday for a sold-out show. Her appearance is about two months after her husband, Blake Shelton, came through town. Because of her hectic schedule, it's tough to track her down on the phone, but she agreed to an email interview with The Blade.
Q. Blake set the bar pretty high in Toledo. A lot of people said it was the best concert they've seen at our arena. What can we expect from you?
A. My shows are always a mix of songs from all my albums plus some rocking cover songs. It's always exciting having new material, though, so we will be incorporating a lot of songs from "Four the Record." Fans can probably expect to hear my newest single, "Over You," but also my older hits like "Gunpowder & Lead" and "The House That Built Me." My staging is all about enhancing the music and getting the crowd excited. We use screens in back with graphics reflecting the lyrics and energy of the songs, and I always love having part of the stage extend out into the pit in front, so I can be as close to the audience as possible.
Q. I was in former Sony president John Grady's Nashville office when you were next door picking out songs for your debut album shortly after you were on Nashville Star. Thinking back to that time, what were your thoughts about starting a music career and what were your expectations?
A. When I started my career, I was a young woman with a lot to say and probably a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I decided early on that no one was going to dictate what kind of songs I sang, so I learned how to play guitar and write my own. I expected to make music my whole life because I didn't know what else I would ever want to do. Instead of going to college, I spent my time out on the road learning how to be a better musician.
Q. The Pistol Annies album was really successful. How did the project come about and are there plans for another album?
A. Pistol Annies happened because three friends sat around writing songs that didn't fit on any of our solo projects, but we felt they were such great songs that we didn't want to pitch them to other artists. Starting a band felt natural, and it has happened before when Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Rondstadt got together for their "Trio" albums. With the other Annies, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, I have really gotten to explore my country roots. We are just three girlfriends, singing about what women think but usually don't say. We have enough material to record another album any time, but for now I am focusing on supporting my newest album, "Four the Record," with my "On Fire" tour. Later in the year, who knows?
Q. I asked Loretta Lynn who reminded her of herself, and she said Miranda Lambert -- and she didn't even hesitate. What do you think of that comparison, and why do you think she said that?
A. That is amazing to hear, and I actually saw an interview where she talks about me ... doesn't get better than that. Loretta is one of my biggest heroes. I think she and I love and believe in the same kind of songwriting -- authentic, no-holds-barred country songs. I know I've always thought that she is one of the strongest women in music, and I hope I can set that kind of example as well. I would love to have a career like hers where I am still making music that I love well into my later years.
Q. When I talked to Blake recently, he said his one major career goal is getting a platinum record. It hadn't occurred to me that he hadn't ever had one. What one goal -- that maybe people wouldn't even guess -- do you have for your career?
A. I would love to have a song that I wrote by myself to win a "song of the year" award. There is just something special, something that makes you reach deep down into who you are as an artist, when you write a song all on your own. I wrote "Dear Diamond" and "Safe" on "Four the Record" on my own, and I am so proud of those songs.
Q. "Over You, " which was written by you and Blake, deals with the death of his brother. It brought a little bit of closure for Blake, and he said he could never sing it live or on an album. What does the song mean to you and how do you feel that he trusts you so much to cut, release, and perform a song that has so much meaning for him?
A. "Over You" has taken on a lot of meaning to me because while it was first being released as my newest single, my father-in-law and one of my childhood friends passed away. I don't think it's a coincidence that Blake and I had this song to fall back on during these difficult times. We both cried when we wrote it, and it was the most emotional songwriting experience either of us has ever had since it's about the tremendous loss of his brother in a tragic car accident. We both hoped that "Over You" could help other folks through similar tough times, so I was proud to be able to put it on my album and release it as a single. The music video just came out, and it is definitely one of the most beautiful and emotional videos I've ever made.
Miranda Lambert and special guests Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann will be in concert Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Huntington Center. The show is sold out.
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