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Miranda Lambert gets crazy

By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 2007

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Lambert was influenced by her father, Rick, who played music growing up and has written with his daughter. She may have gotten a song idea or two from his day job - being an undercover narcotics cop for the Dallas police and now a private detective.

He was with a band called Contraband, which played on flatbed trucks with Miranda tagging along. As a kid, she sang in talent shows at school and received her first guitar at 14 courtesy of her father.

However, the future singer was not all that interested in a music career. She listened to pop like Mariah Carey and country.

What changed her life was entering a Tru-Valu talent search in 2000. She won 2 rounds at age 16, but the spark was lit. The Lamberts hit Nashville a few times to attend Fan Fair.

Lambert quickly learned about writing songs and recorded a pop country demo. That's hard to believe because Lambert's sound through her albums (one released by herself and the two on Sony) bear no resemblance to pop. Lambert realized that wasn't her style either.

She recorded her own country disc for a few grand and played throughout Texas with her band, Texas Pride. Lambert was still in high school, but graduated early in an accelerated program to concentrate on music and make money on the road.

Nashville Star soon became the launching pad. A family friend recommended that she enter, but Lambert had no interest at first. She did enter it though - twice. She made the mistake of singing a Shania Twain song, which was not her style, in Dallas. But in Houston, she nailed "Crazy," and Lambert hit the highway for Nashville.

Buddy Jewell ended up winning the inaugural competition, but Lambert and others in the industry say it was just as well that she didn't win. The thinking was that at 19, she was not ready to release an album and needed seasoning.

"Kerosene" received good reviews, but it wasn't until Lambert's performance on the awards show that her career went into high gear. She toured with Keith Urban and George Strait, valuable experiences for Lambert along with dates this year with Dierks Bentley and Keith.

"Every tour is different," says Lambert. "The first tour with Keith Urban was the first tour I ever did. That really opened my eyes to the entertainment part of it because his show is just amazing. He's a rock star. When you're opening, you can't stand and sing and play your guitar. You have to put on a show. That really helped my stage presence."

"I take something different from every tour. What I took from George Strait is relationships. He's got people who have been working with him for 20 years. In this business, it's so flighty, and you can't trust people. He's got good people he could trust. I'd love to have that as well."

Lambert is currently touring with Bentley. "He's really smart, and he really handles his business well. It's his first headlining tour. There are some venues where we don't sell that many tickets, and he doesn't let it discourage him at all. He knows he's moving up. I really respect the decisions he makes."

Lambert makes it clear she's not a big fan of what she hears from a portion of today's country artists. "I don't really like the feel good country music. I think it got really got out of hand. For a couple of years, everybody was putting out feel good music. I just don't think that's what country music is about for the most part. It started out with Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, all the heroes singing about cheating and drinking and being in prison. That's what country music is about - the real stuff. That's the music I listen to, and therefore I write about real situations."

"A lot of days, even in my job, I have a great job. I get to do what I love for a living, but some days just suck. I don't think on those days, I want to hear about how great things are. Most people have bad days. I would rather hear a song about someone else having a bad day when I am than someone talking about how great their life is all the time. I don't know. It just doesn't appeal to me."

Despite the apparent negativity of some of the songs, Lambert thinks there is a silver lining. "With me, it's more of a message. I think the story about both of my albums would just be about strength. I write about love, but even in my most vulnerable songs, I think it takes strength to admit you're vulnerable and to admit you're hurt. Just about being a strong woman is the thread of my writing and my records."

"As a songwriter, I like songs personally to listen to that make me think. To me, a successful song is bringing out an emotion in somebody, whether it's taking them back to a happy time in their life or making them feel sad or any kind of emotion. That's what music is about...I like to listen to songs that make me think, and I guess that's why I record those kinds of songs."

And Lambert knows it's real hard to make a dent on the country charts with many songs hanging around for months in a difficult climate.

"I think it sucks. I really do. It's so hard to get a song up the chart these days. It has to be out there for 16 weeks before it's even top 40 sometimes. It takes forever. As far as record sales go, I'm a big iTunes (buyer). I buy records off iTunes every day. I think that's okay, but I miss the old days."

When the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces" came out, Lambert recalled, "I was so excited. I was standing at Wal-Mart and waiting for them to put the record out to go on sale the day it came out, and I don't know that people do that any more. It's kind of sad. As an artist, I feel I'm really lucky. My highest song so far was 'Kerosene' and it was 15 on the charts, and I still sold a million copies... Without having a hit at all, people found out about me through videos and TV and all the press stuff that I've done."

"A lot of people have to have those number ones. Some people have numbers ones and don't sell hardly any records. I'd rather have it the way I have it. I'd love to have a hit on radio. I'm hoping this record will be the breakthrough for me. I'm just glad to be out there, and I'm glad I sold a million albums. So, that's all I can really say."

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