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Country Icon Kellie Pickler Feels Blessed with Successful Career

Dec 14, 2017 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould
If you’ve ever wondered the true definition of a Southern belle, look no further than Kellie Pickler. The North Carolina native couldn’t be more thankful for the career she’s built and the people she’s met along the way.

At 19 years old, Pickler auditioned for season five of American Idol, and although she didn’t win the show, she certainly won the hearts of fans across the country.

Following her Idol fame, Pickler released the Gold-certified Small Town Girl in 2006, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and was the best-selling debut by a solo country female that year. She released her self-titled second studio album, which contained her first Top Ten Hit and Platinum-certified single, “Best Days of Your Life.” The powerhouse country singer released two more albums including 100 Proof, which was named the No. 1 Country Album of the Year, and The Woman I Am.

“Oh my gosh. I’ve been so blessed. I just worked hard and surrounded myself with good people. I’ve been very blessed to be able to do what I love. Idol was the road that led me to Nashville and it changed my life for the better.” – Kellie Pickler

The country artist’s most recent release, “If It Wasn’t For A Woman,” is an emotional ballad with reminiscent memories of her late grandmother.

If her singing career wasn’t impressive enough, Pickler partnered with Derek Hough to win the 16th season of Dancing with the Stars; she’s currently starring in her third season of CMT’s hit series I Love Kellie Pickler; and most recently debuted her newest daytime talk show in September, Pickler & Ben.

While her career continues to flourish, this country icon takes pride in giving back to her country by participating in 11 USO Tours. In 2015, Pickler received the Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award in recognition of her unwavering support for the troops.

Light up the holidays with Kellie Pickler & Phil Vassar: A Christmas Tour on Thursday, December 21st, 7:30 p.m. at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and don’t miss their new holiday single, “The Naughty List.” Tickets are $60–70.


How does one go from a contestant on American Idol to releasing four albums, appearing on Dancing with the Stars, have a comedy series, and a talk show? What has this experience been like? Did you ever expect you’d be at the place you’re in right now?

Oh my gosh. I’ve been so blessed. I just worked hard and surrounded myself with good people. I’ve been very blessed to be able to do what I love. Idol was the road that led me to Nashville and it changed my life for the better. I can’t complain. I stay busy, so that’s a good problem to have.

You have to know what you want and work hard to achieve that. You have to believe in yourself to some degree. When I got on Idol at 19, I was just hoping that would be the road that led me to Nashville, Tennessee and that I would be able to be a part of the country music family. I never thought about Dancing with the Stars and all the other things that came along. I’m so happy that they did because I discovered passions I didn’t know I had. I’ve been able to try new things and do a lot of things I never thought I would have the opportunity to do.

You recently debuted your new daytime talk show, Pickler & Ben. Tell me how this show came about and how it feels to have the show ranked No. 1 in the time slot in Nashville only a few months after debuting. What’s your favorite part about the show and working with Ben?

First of all, we have so much fun. We’re surrounded by an army of incredible people and we get to be a bright light in the world. It’s all positive and we keep it fun and light hearted. We have a good time, so it’s really amazing how it all came together. And Ben is so wonderful, he’s absolutely amazing to work with, and there’s never a dull moment. We have a good time for sure.

I think really being able to hear people’s stories and we’ve had some amazing guests on the show. They’re just real people chasing dreams and we get to be a part of making their dreams become a reality.

The Veterans day episode was one of my favorite shows because we got to shine a light on our military and their families, and hear some incredible stories. We have DIY projects, we have famous chefs, and real people chasing dreams. It’s a positive, fun atmosphere and a great way for us to start our day. We’re so happy everyone that everyone has given us the chance and hope they’ll continue to let us grow. We hope the show will continue to do well and hopefully grow and build in different markets. We’re always up for constructive criticism

We’re just so blessed to be able to work with the people that work behind the show. There are over 100 people that uprooted their lives and moved states to be here because they believe in the show. We’re really built a family behind the curtain. It’s a special show for all of us to work on and hope people will continue to give us a shot.

Tell me about your efforts with the troops and the 11 USO Tours you’ve participated in. How did you get involved with this and why is it so important to you? What was the experience like when you received the Chris Kyle Patriot Award?

I learned about the USO and was instantly eager to be a part of it, so we reached out and said that we were interested. One thing led to another and I guess they were surprised that I was so eager to go over there. I’ve been so blessed to do 11 tours and we’ll go back as long as they’ll have us. It’s truly a blessing to be a part of. It’s really enabled me to see firsthand what they’re doing and the living conditions. I just want to try and take a little home to them, they need it.

It’s not about me. I was surprised of course, but very honored. The Kyle family are just amazing people and have really become family to my husband and I. We go down to Texas every year to be a part of their Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit they put on every year. It’s really amazing. I feel very blessed, I surely do. I think we can all do our part. I don’t wear a uniform, but I feel like we can all serve in different ways.

Let’s talk about your music a little bit. After American Idol, you career took off with you debut album and you’ve continue to garner success with each album release. Tell me about your latest release, “If It Wasn’t for a Woman” and what this song means to you? What sort of feedback have you received from listeners?

It’s such a special song. My husband and our friend Brian wrote it at our kitchen table actually and it was on the anniversary of my grandmothers passing. She was an amazing woman and the woman I called mom. It was a really special song and I got to honor her love.

For the song, we didn’t intend to release it, we just kind of wrote it in the spur of the moment and it got out. The feedback has been really wonderful. Everybody has a story and that person in their lives that influenced them whether it be their mom, teacher, grandmother, neighbor, aunt, or friend that influenced them and inspired them as a mentor. That song is universal where it speaks to anyone.

Any thoughts about getting back into the studio to record a new album?

Definitely, I mean, as soon as we can carve in the time. We’re hoping to keep going with Pickler & Ben and fingers crossed for a season four of our CMT show, I Love Kellie Pickler. We definitely have a lot on our plate right now, but we write all the time and our house is full of music. The studio, who knows, we’ll see.

What are you looking forward to most on this Christmas Tour with Phil Vassar and what can people expect to see from the show? How about your new song, “The Naughty List?” How did that song come about?

Oh, it’s so fun! We have a great time. Phil and I perform together, he does a solo set, I sing solo, we sing more together, and it’s really a fun, fun show. His band is also so amazing and so wonderful.

Phil wrote it [“The Naughty List”] and once we realized we were going on tour together, we decided that we should record something we could sing on the road. We went into the studio and actually shot the music video at the Veterans Affairs here in Tennessee. We had veterans and dancers in the video. We had a good time it was a lot of fun. Now we get to see it on the road.

Is there a part of the holiday you’d say is your favorite?

Actually, come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been home for Christmas. Normally were on a USO Tour, but this year we’re doing the Christmas tour. We roll back on Christmas eve because our last show is on the 23rd. I’m looking forward to being still and not being on a plane or going somewhere. Who knows though, that could change at the last minute. We’re very spontaneous. Plus, I’ll be with Kyle and that’s all that matters.