Miranda Lambert would be the first to admit her career in country music sounds like something straight out of a fairytale factory: Once upon a time, a teenage singer/songwriter from small-town Lindale, Texas, auditioned for a TV show called Nashville Star, the country-music version of American Idol. She bombed with her first audition, but tried again, sang the iconic Willie Nelson composition Crazy, and nailed it. Lambert reached only third place on the show, but that was fine with her. She already had a career playing Texas honky-tonks. Nonetheless, Sony Music Nashville soon came calling.
The result was 2005’s Kerosene, which entered the Billboard magazine Top Country Albums chart at No. 1. Kerosene earned her the Academy of Country Music’s 2006 Top New Female Vocalist Award, got her opening slots on big-arena tours with George Strait and Keith Urban, and paved the way for 2007’s No. 1 album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Turning 26 on November 10, Lambert’s self-assurance comes partly from a set of loving parents who trailed cheaters and liars for a living. Their private-detective business gave her plenty of insight into the complexities (and dangers) of love.
Her fans love her because she’s a down-home girl who goes for T-shirts instead of glitz. She freely admits to having a soft side; the third “thank-you” on her Girlfriend album (after her family and God) is to her dogs. Lambert has generously helped her favorite charities—the Humane Society of East Texas’ “Cause for the Paws” event in Tyler raised $120,000 in May. She’s also involved in the Texoma Animal Improved Living Society (TAILS).
To honor her success, Lambert’s family, partnering with LouViney Vineyards, started the Red 55 Winery in Lindale, and also run The Miranda Lambert Store, a memorabilia shop at the same location.
With her recently released 3rd CD, Revolution, Lambert will be criss-crossing the country on tour. But her roots—(and vines)—are firmly planted in Texas.
MARGOLIS: Any difference between Miranda Lambert from Lindale, Texas and Miranda Lambert—country music star?
LAMBERT: Definitely. I’m a little more tough than I am when I’m just hangin’ on the farm.
MARGOLIS: What do you miss most when you’re in Nashville or on the road?
LAMBERT: Everything. The roots and the feeling that people know who they are, and the hospitality. And the Mexican food. I refuse to eat Mexican food anywhere else.
MARGOLIS: What surprised you that you didn’t know about Texas or Texans?
LAMBERT: First off, I think no other state is as proud of its musical turnouts. I love that Texans will stand in the rain for hours just to see someone play. The roads are endless, especially when you are stuck in a motor home with no air-conditioning and five guys. That’s when you realize how long it is from Lubbock to Houston.
MARGOLIS: If you could play Texas tour guide, what activities or destinations would you make sure your visitors experienced?
LAMBERT: New Braunfels—and specifically Gruene Hall—is a favorite place of mine. We go there every year and float the river, listen to great music, eat at the Grist Mill, and hang out with friends. It’s a wonderful, relaxing place to visit. Of course, there's always the Riverwalk (in San Antonio), Sixth Street (in Austin) and my other personal favorite ... NorthPark Center (in Dallas).
MARGOLIS: What kind of truck do you drive?
LAMBERT: I have a Ford F-250 I use on the farm. I also have a Jeep Liberty to drive back and forth to Dallas for bus call and flights.
MARGOLIS: When you first started meeting some of your musical idols, how did you handle it?
LAMBERT: When I met Merle (Haggard) it was the ultimate experience. He was so nice, and he signed my guitar and a picture for me. I'm so glad it went well, because sometimes you hear stories of people meeting their idols and it ends up a bust. Jack Ingram (another Texas native) has always been one of my musical inspirations and now we've become very good friends, but it took a long time for me to get over the fact that he was Jack Ingram
MARGOLIS: You've written a few terrific anthems for ladies who have been done wrong. How many times have you had your heart broken?
LAMBERT: I think once is too many for anyone. That's a painful thing. All of it just makes you stronger.
Lynne Margolis is an Austin-based freelance writer who could probably write a woman-done-wrong song or two—and just might, one of these days. She’s got a soft-side weakness for dogs, too.The Miranda Lambert Store & Red 55 Winery is at 100 E. Hubbard in Lindale. This East Texas attraction offers Miranda’s CDs, DVDs, photos, souvenirs, memorabilia, tees, hoodies, hats, caps, bags, six different wines, and more, with live music every Saturday.
Miranda Lambert’s latest CD, Revolution, from Columbia/Sony Music Nashville, featuring the single, “Dead Flowers,” is now available.