Miranda Lambert signed her first-ever record deal with Epic Records on Sept. 15, 2003.
Lambert had only recently wrapped up a run on the debut season of Nashville Star, where she placed third behind Buddy Jewell and John Arthur Martinez. Despite not winning, Lambert made a strong impression during her time on the show with her incendiary live performances, catching the eyes of Nashville’s tastemakers and leading to her deal.
Though she was a brand-new artist, Lambert still knew exactly what she wanted out of a deal — and more importantly, what she did not want.
“When I got a record deal, I said, ‘I’m only wearing jeans. I’m not wearing frilly dresses,'” Lambert tells Elle. “Dancing around in sequins is just not who I am. I wanted to be heard, not seen. People were like, ‘Well, you know, you need to kind of be flexible on that,’ and I just wasn’t at all.”
Lambert also insisted that she get to choose the songs she recorded and play guitar on all of the tracks instead of having her parts replaced by session players. She wanted to as authentic as possible.
“Looking back on it, it was a little extreme, but I really stuck to it,” she reflects. “Luckily, it worked, but even if it didn’t, I always knew that I’d be able to sleep at night.”
Lambert worked with producers Frank Liddell and Mike Wrucke on her debut album, Kerosene, which was released on March 15, 2005. She wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks on the album, which sonically represented a major departure from the slick radio fare most common in Nashville at that time.
The album got a slow start with “Me and Charlie Talking” and “Bring Me Down,” Lambert’s first two singles, neither of which made the Top 20. But the title song and third single, “Kerosene,” reached No. 15 and helped to change the sound of country radio, establishing Lambert as an artist to watch. Kerosene peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, and Lambert’s next album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, won an ACM Award for Album for the Year in 2008, setting Lambert on a career path as one of contemporary country music’s best-selling and most-awarded female artists.