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Miranda Lambert sees victory in failure to win

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2005

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"My dad was in the den one day playing the melody of the song. I said, 'that's pretty. What are you working on?' I sang the first line ("Rain on the window makes me lonely"). It took about three hours. It was a rainy night. It was real late at night. It was (written) line by line. I'd write a line, and he'd write a line. He just had that pretty melody going. To me, it sounded like rain on a window."

Rick Lambert says, "I had in mind a girl that we knew very well. She had a habit of dating married men. It was a dead end."

Miranda Lambert was born in Longview, Texas and moved to Lindale, about 80 miles east of Dallas in time for first grade. "I got into singing," says Lambert. "My dad plays guitar and writes, and I'd always grown up with that."

Rick Lambert had a band called Contraband, which fit right in with being an undercover narcotics cop for the Dallas police at the time.

"We'd have parties with anywhere from 30 to 150 people," he says. "We lived out in the country. We had a flatbed trailer and a bunch of pickers out here. As the evening wore on, she'd crawl up on my lap and fall asleep. I'd continue playing until the morning."

By the age of 10, she sang Holly Dunn's "Daddy's Hands' in a talent show for third through fifth graders. Her father accompanied her on guitar.

Her dad bought her a guitar when she was 14. "She just didn't seem interested," he says. "If a daddy tries to push, they're going to rebel at that stage."

"I didn't really have an interest (in a music career)," says Lambert. "I did the teenage high school thing. I was in choir and all that, but when I was 16 I really got into that."

Miranda says, "I've loved music, but I didn't want to do that with my life necessarily. I was just really worried about regular kid stuff like what I was going to have for lunch."

"I listened to everything, mostly country. I grew up with that, and that's what I liked. When I was in junior high school, it was cool to listen to pop. I really liked Mariah Carey when I was young. I loved the way she interacted with her audience. I was not pop in any way."

Lambert blames Tru-Value for what would become her career. She entered a Tru-Valu Talent Search in April 2000. Lambert won two rounds of the contest. "That's where it all really started,' she says.

"I don't even know what possessed me," she says. "I loved singing, and I was good at singing, and I heard an ad on radio that there was the Tru-Value Country Showdown. I thought I could win."

"I had no idea what was going to happen. I was 16. (I thought) okay, I'll try this. I thought maybe I could win the first round...I didn't know what to expect, and I loved it."

Lambert started playing guitar right before turning 17 and wrote her first song the very first day. "It wasn't good," she says. "From that point on, my family and I went to Nashville. Not to get a record deal. I'd been to Fan Fair a few times before, and I just wanted to go and hang out."

The Lamberts attended a songwriter's seminar about getting into the business. "We all wanted to learn as as quick possible what to expect because we had no idea, and I'd taken an interest so fast."

Must have because Rick Lambert says, "I taught her 5 chords, and she wrote 10 songs."

For some reason, Miranda Lambert recorded a pop country demo. "That was a good learning experience for me," she says. "That's when I (knew) that's not at all what I'm interested in."

She soon recorded an independent record for $2,000 in 1 1/2 days and played throughout Texas with her band, Texas Pride.

"It was going to be a demo thing," Rick Lambert says. "Some DJ got a hold of it. They wanted the record, and we said we don't have a record. We put a record together."

Miranda Lambert graduated high school early to pursue music. After a month of senior year, she participated in Operation Graduation, working at one's own pace to get the sheepskin.Lambert's pace must have been super, ultra fast. "I finished in 10 days. I passed all my classes, barely, but I did."

Lambert admits she wasn't much of a student and was glad to be out of school. "Once I figured out how interesting life was outside of high school, school wasn't my thing any more."

"It just pretty much went smoothly from there on out."

Lambert did pretty well with the music, getting two songs on the Texas music charts. "It was a tough go because it was a boy's world," says Rick Lambert. "She wrestled her way in at 17."

"For a short while, two weeks, she worked at a department store," says Rick Lambert, saying she made $120. "She said, 'Dad, I can make more than this (singing) in one night. She was making $300, $500 a night. I said, 'no kidding'."

Lambert also was heavily involved in writing songs. "Writing came very easily to me. It took me awhile to get the art of it down. I was writing heavy. Every single day. Three songs a week. I was writing a lot."

"Basically after I started writing, I knew I was going to make it a career. I was going to make it happen however I had to. Luckily, Nashville Star came along."

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