(CSC) 1. It is great to chat with you. Please tell us about your latest record, 100 Proof!
Well I've never worked harder on anything then I have with this record. I guess you could say that I put as much as my life into eleven songs as you possibly could. I put as much of it on a record as I could fit into eleven songs. (Laughs)
(CSC) 2. This album finds you taking on a very traditional sound. Tell us about your decision to make such a bold move.
I've always wanted to do this; I just now have been able to. I love this album and I am so proud of it. I love Tammy Wynette, and you know I love Dolly, Loretta and Kitty Wells. I love traditional country music and I think there's room for all of it. I really got to go into the studio, and some of the musicians that played on this record actually played on old Tammy Wynette records. It was really neat to go into the studio and really put what was in my heart on a record.
(CSC) 3. You have revealed a very personal side of your life on songs such as “The Letter” and “Mother’s Day.” What gave you a sense of comfort and stability during that tough time in your life?
You know, I think the thing that makes country music so special, in general, is that behind every country song there is a story. Or behind most every great country song is a story, a real story. So, that is why people like it; they can relate to it, people relate to real life situations and my music is about that. It's about life and my life.
(CSC) 4. Upon a mutual decision to depart from your former label, what would be most appealing factors as you shop for a new label?
For me, looking for a new home, I just wanna be somewhere where I can be me. My life is a country song. I don't have to make anything up and I don't need to be manufactured. I don't need anybody to make up anything for me because my life, as I said, is a country song (Laughs). I think that's why people voted for me on American Idol, because they relate to me and my story. I just need to be at a label where the people there believe in me and they believe in my music and that it's real.
There is no other place in the world that I've ever tried to be or wanted to be than country radio; all I have ever wanted is to be able to do what Dolly Parton does and what Loretta Lynn does. I've said this from the very first time people were introduced to me that I love those women, and that I've always wanted to do what they do because it's real and I related to it. I think so many people relate to my story because more people come from broken homes than not, and people identify with it. I don't need anyone to tell me what to sing or tell me what to say. I have my own story and I don't have to make anything up; it's real, it's my life, it's what I see every day, it's what I go through every day and I just put it in the form of a song. My next home has to be where that can brace, where it's okay to be me, where it's okay to be Kellie and not somebody else that they are trying to make me be.
(CSC) 5. What did the American Idol experience teach you about life in the music business and how did it help you find yourself as an artist?
I think it really helps to prepare you for life on the road and the go-go-go of the industry. When you're on American Idol you're being pulled in a hundred different directions by a hundred different people and that doesn't change when you get into the music business. You're constantly being pulled at and tugged at and what not. I really think it helped to prepare me for that; the hustle and bustle and the go-go-go of the business. I guess you just kind of have to learn hands-on, experience too, as far as I have been doing this for six and a half years now. I've really learned what's important and what's not important. I have a great man, I have a great husband, he is my rock, my sanctuary, and at the end of the day I go home to him and he's my love. You know, your priorities change as you get older and what not. I am very happy where I am right now in this particular place in my life.
(CSC) 6. Having grown up in a small town, what were your initial feelings like when you traveled to
Oh Yeah! Oh my gosh it was a whirl wind, you know (Laughs) from
(CSC) 7. You released your debut album shortly after competing on Idol. Looking back, would you have liked to have spent more time on that record?
It doesn't really matter because I can't do anything about the past and I can't change anything that's been done. So, the only thing I can do is focus my energy towards my future and what I'm doing now. I really don't look at things like, "What if I would done this, or what if I would have done that or if I could go and change the past?" It's like the impossible, you can't change the past. The only thing you have control over is the present and your future; that's it. You can't sit around and mope and complain about the past because they're not going to hear it, you're wasting your time and your energy. Put all of that energy and that focus into your future and what you're doing now; you can't change anything you have already done.
PART II of our interview with KELLIE PICKLER:
(CSC) 8. Being strongly influenced by artists like Tammy, Loretta and Dolly, what have those women taught you about being a woman in the business?
I look at all three of those women, in particular, Dolly, Loretta and Tammy and they are strong women, and they are who they are and they never compromise who they are for anyone. Their life is a country song and they just sing about it. That is what makes them so special too, you know. Just think if Dolly would have never written, "Coat of Many Colors." Think if Dolly never wrote, "I Will Always Love You" or "Jolene." There are just so many classics and so many real songs that she wrote from real life situations and people relate to that, because that's what country music is about, isn't it? Isn't it about being real? Behind the country songs there's a story, a true story about someone's life and what they’ve been through. That's why people gravitate toward it, because it's real. If anything, I've learned that it's okay to be yourself, it's okay to be you. Even if other people don't like you, it doesn't matter if they don't like you. ‘Cause you are the only person who has to live with you, so if you're happy with you, I would say you are doing just fine.
(CSC) 9. Have you ever felt challenged by an obstacle that you have faced just because of being a young woman in the business?
I don't compare myself to anybody else or anything else because I'm very different than everyone else. I come from a different raisin’; I just come from a different lifestyle than some other people live. I can't compare myself to anybody else. I can only live my life and do what I do because it feels right and because it is right. I am going to make mistakes and I'm gonna do things that aren't right, we all are and that's okay as long as we learn from it. I don't let what other people say or do dictate how I feel about myself, or what I think of myself because I know who I am regardless of what anybody else does, you know.
(CSC) 10. Many of your songs have a very positive message and offer your young female fans hope. Is that something that you specifically try to implement when choosing songs?
When I sit down and write a song, I don't try to do anything but write about what I'm going through and my number one goal is to find closure. If a song that I write helps someone else find closure, great. My number one goal is to get what's in my heart, get what's in my head, what's in my soul, my goal is to put it on paper; to get it out. That's how I start healing, that's the first process of healing for me; is to be honest with myself and to write it down, and if it helps other people, great. Then it's wonderful; you can't please everybody, I suppose.
(CSC) 11. Why is it important for you to remain true to yourself, and what keeps you grounded?
I'm just myself; I don't know how to be anybody else, but me. My husband is such a good man and he loves me for me. If nobody else in the world loves me but my husband, I'm okay with that. As long as I have him by my side and I have the Lord in my life. I don't have to please everybody else. Nobody can please everyone. I think I have great people around me that will quickly tell me if I get off the track, or what not, if I get lost. I've got great people in my life that will help steer me back on the right path.
(CSC) Do you have assistants who help you on the road?
I'm on my bus by myself with my two dogs. (Laughs)
(CSC) What kind of dogs do you have?
I have a
(CSC) Do you still have your snake?
I Do. (Laughs) she doesn't come on the road with me anymore. She has a big cage at the house. She is probably 5 foot. We forget about her sometimes, you know, you don't take a snake out for walks (Laughs). We clean her cage out and feed her like every two weeks. Sometimes she’ll be in Kyle’s studio upstairs! (Laughs) He sees her everyday when he goes to work, but I’m usually on the road.
(CSC) 12. I know that you have a great respect for the Grand Ole Opry…what do you imagine it would be like to be invited as a member??
Oh my gosh; someone recently asked me, "So when did you know you made it?" It's like I don't feel like I've made it yet, but I might feel like I made it if I ever get invited to be a member of the Opry. I guess growing up the way I did and I always had a great deal of respect for the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, in general, I would be absolutely honored if they ever asked. Maybe that's when I'll know I've made it.
(CSC) They need to make you a member. You play there a good amount, don't you?
I hope so. (Laughs) I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Any time I'm ever asked and I'm in town, I do it. I know the history and I respect it and I love it. I hope to someday be invited to be a member because of that, because of my love for country music, my respect for the Opry stage, the Ryman and the history behind it. I don't care about ever being on pop radio. I don't care about ever being played on any other station in the world. All I've ever wanted to be part of is country music. I've only wanted to be on country radio. I've only wanted to do what I'm doing now. I hope that someday that will be recognized and that the people know that the motives in my heart are in the right place.
(CSC) Your little boyfriend is there at the Opry, Jimmy Dickens.
My little Jimmy Dickens; (Laughs) yes, bless my little boyfriend, Jimmy Dickens, I love him. He's a little pistol, isn't he? I will tell you this, this was before American Idol, my grandpa, Ken, who never got to be a part of my life until I was about seventeen. He's the only person I have known on my mom's side of the family. He came to me one day, he knew that I wanted to go to
Less than two years later during the time after American Idol, I get up on the stage and I am singing and that's why when I went out the very first time I sung at the Opry, which was not televised or anything, I went out there on that stage and I sat down on the stage in the circle. I sat down and I thought, "I'm gonna milk this for everything its worth because what if I never get this opportunity ever again in my life." I sat down on that stage and I will never forget singing my very first song at the Opry and that was, "My Angel," the song that I wrote about my grandma. Every single time I get that I get up there on that stage I go back to that moment; every time, every time I go back to that moment of the seventeen year-old little girl sitting out there in the audience, sitting out there on that pew back there looking up going, "God, I pray that can be me one day."
Maybe one day I will be asked to be a member and maybe that's when I will know I made it. It's hard to see people that know none of the history and don't really care; it's hard to see people that honestly really don't care about the history of country music, the history of that stage, the history of the Ryman Auditorium and how it came to be what it is today. It's hard to see people like that take it for granted. To feel that it's taken advantage of; but it is what it is. I know where my heart is and I know where I stand with it, and I know that if ever given the opportunity to become a member, or even if I'm never a member, just the fact that I've been able to sing on that stage says so much to me and it means so much to me.
(CSC) That's amazing what God can do, it's like a complete 360 moment for you.
It really is. I really don't ever sit back and reflect on it and really talk about it to see what's happened since then. It's really a miracle for me that I've been able to go from where I came from to where I am today. I really feel like it's a miracle and what not.
(CSC) It sounds like it got you teared up, but I can see why, because it's a very emotional thing.
I guess I look at it differently than a lot of other people. But for me,
(CSC) 13. What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you out on the road?
Oh my gosh; Lord knows. The craziest thing that has ever happened to me, I don't know off the top of my head. I guess the craziest thing that's ever happened to me is all of this, you know. (Laughs) The fact that I even get to be on the road and tour and do what I love.
(CSC) 14. Being newly married, how have you adjusted to married life with your husband?
It's so great, he is my best friend. Kyle is my reason for living. I am so blessed to have him, not only as my best friend, but has my husband. I am very, very happy when it comes to that part of my life.
(CSC) 15. You have made multiple trips overseas to visit our troops and perform for them. How has that opportunity impacted your life?
(Kellie Pickler)I come from a military family, so I’ve always had a great deal of respect for our service men and women and veterans. My grandfather, Pickler, is a veteran, he is a retired Marine. I have a great deal of respect for the sacrifices they have made for our country and for their family. I'm so blessed to be in a position where I can actually hop on a plane and fly to
Kellie Pickler pictured with Christian Scalise upon being presented with her CSC Fall 2012 Cover Issue: