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Interview with Kellie Pickler

I’m a big enough person to admit when I’m wrong. I was definitely too hard on Kellie Pickler towards the end of her stay on American Idol, as I couldn’t make sense between the more serious side of Kellie that we see when she’s talking about her music, and the great personality with a shade of naivete that spoke about her life back home in Albamarle, North Carolina. Today, listening to her new CD, Small Town Girl, and later getting an opportunity to speak to Kellie herself, I found the same two sides, mixed within one person. Once I wondered if it was fake, now I know that it’s just the down home earthiness of a Small Town Girl.

That’s a lot more than I can say for myself tonight. My questions looked great on paper, but not being able to get my cell phone headset to work right (Is it me or if you have to hold the mic part of it next to your mouth to speak into it, is it just not worth it, as it certainly isn’t hands-free), and having to rush in the door to receive the phone call on time as my daughter sauntered out of school without a care in the world, I feared my questions were missing something, like my own earthiness or something. Nevertheless, Kellie gave a great interview, ever the professional.

I opened by fulfilling a promise to my children. Each of them made me promise that I would tell Kellie how much they liked her. Well, okay, but it makes me sound a little too … gushing … for an interviewer. Yet, I complied and told Kellie that she was the favorite of my 10 year old daughter, and that my son had a major crush on her. She thanked my politely. I knew I had to get going with some major interviewing instead of just fan gushing.

So I went to what we all know her for – calamari. I was thinking since that was what she had become most known for, that everywhere she went people were most likely offering it to her by the plateful. She talked just a little about being known for that, then asked if I’d heard her CD. Of course I had, and I knew where she was going with this. The title track off the CD, Small Town Girl, has a line that says, “Give me a cheeseburger; I ain’t eatin’ no calamari.” She figures enough with the calamari already. I told her she should come to Chicago then. We don’t serve anything weird, just really good pizza. This was one of those questions that sounded good on paper, but didn’t quite fly out of my mouth the way I wanted it to. Kellie said that’s good, because she loves pizza, and is a big cheese girl.

Continuing with the food theme, I brought up the comedy bit Kellie did with Wolfgang Puck on the season finale of American Idol. She was very comedic while he offered her plates of calamari and other odd foods, and I told her I had thought then she might be meant for comedy. I asked her today if she has ever thought of doing any acting. Her immediate answer was definitely. Different opportunities have been coming in for her, and she will certainly be pursuing moves and/or TV in the future, but for right now she wants to focus on establishing herself as a country singer. I think that’s a very sound business decision.

I switched up the conversation to now, knowing we had to get to the reason we were talking on the phone at this particular time, Kellie’s new CD, Small Town Girl. I had to tell her that the CD blew me away as I listened to it. She seemed to show a lot more depth on it than she did on American Idol, especially on I Wonder and My Angel. Listening to the words, they have to have been written for her estranged mother and her grandmother that raised her and passed away a few years ago. I pointed out to Kellie that I can’t even sing along to My Angel, because it makes me cry so much. Kellie said that all the songs are really personal to her. While American Idol did show a lot of her personality, a lot was missed as well. While her album is autobiographical, it’s not her whole life story, otherwise, she points out, it would be a long album. Yet, it does show more of her personality, and she thinks it’s nice to know the fans will listen to these songs that are more intimate to her.

In Kellie’s liner notes for the Small Town Girl CD, she gave thanks to a couple of people that helped her unleash the songwriter in her. From one writer to another, I wanted her to know she did fantastic. Asked if it was her first attempt at songwriting, Kellie said she had tried in the past, but wasn’t very successful because it just complicated things. Now, though, she is able to take a look back at her journal pieces, and realize it’s the making for lyrics. She believes that anyone that keeps a diary or journal, it’s a record of their life, day, feelings and emotions. Whether it’s bad feelings or good feelings, or a mixture of the two, it’s a song. This writer says, Amen.

On Kellie’s first single, Red High Heels, she reminds me a lot of Dolly Parton, both in her tone of voice and the songwriting itself. I wondered if it was intentional or incidental. Before she could utter anything else, Kellie gave me a big thank you. It was mostly incidental, she was just singing a song like Kellie would. She considers being compared to Parton the greatest compliment I could give her. Kellie would love to follow in her footsteps one day, as she’s been a fan of Dolly’s work for a long time.

I had read somewhere that she drove a U-Haul across the country, back to Albamarle, and it was filled with her shoes. That ended up to be somewhat of a stretch, as she says she actually drove from Albalmarle to Nashville, so it wasn’t cross country, however, she was behind the wheel, pulling a U-Haul, and it was filled with her shoes, clothes, and pictures. That’s part of that down homeness here. She’s one of the top 10 American Idols this year, went on tour this summer, yet pulls her U-Haul herself. I don’t think there’s a pretentious bone in this girl’s body.


Freelance entertainment and tech writer, editor