In 2005, Louisiana-born and North Carolina-raised singer Kellie Pickler landed a spot in the fifth season of American Idol. Though she finished sixth, the former waitress and Miss North Carolina contestant charmed American audiences with her Southern twang and blonde ambition, resulting in a contract with BNA Records that yielded her debut album, Small Town Girl, in the fall of 2006.
The three singles released-"Red High Heels," "I Wonder," and "Things That Never Cross A Man's Mind"-each broke the top 20 on the country charts. She was recognized by the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association when both organizations announced their picks for the year's best new talent. From her 2008 self-titled sophomore album, Pickler released the singles "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" and "Best Days of Your Life," the latter she co-wrote with Taylor Swift. Kellie released her third studio album, 100 Proof, in 2012.
Pickler is positively exuberant these days. Through loneliness, uncertainty, vulnerability and heartbreak, the naïve small town girl has blossomed into a strong, independent, fearlessly feminine young woman.
In regards to her latest release, The Woman I Am, Kellie says, "I want to feel what I'm saying. I want it to mean something. I go back to people like Patsy and Tammy, Loretta and Dolly, who can make you cry. You don't always hear that kind of song today. And no matter how good the song is, I have to believe you as you're singing it."
According to producer Frank Liddell, there is a reason that's never been a problem with Kellie. “What impresses me most about Kellie is her sense of artistry," he says. "She knows who she is, what she wants to sing and what she wants to say. It’s Kellie’s vision and she’s not afraid of it. That’s the most important attribute an artist can have.”
Liddell was also careful to make sure the musicians working with her augment rather than overshadow her efforts. "Sometimes less is more as far as production goes," says Kellie. "You can strip the feeling and emotion out if you overdo it."
The Woman I Am