Miranda Lambert scored a recording deal and shot to fame after competing on the first season of Nashville Star in 2003, but in a new interview, she admitted that doing the show was very intimidating, and she actually failed her initial audition.
Lambert was on hand for a lengthy one-on-one interview in front of an industry-only audience as part of the 2020 Country Radio Seminar in Nashville on Wednesday (Feb. 19), and she revealed that when she first auditioned for the USA Network reality singing competition, her heart wasn’t really in it, and she didn’t get very far into the audition process.
Her mother, Bev, was upset with her afterward, pointing out that she’d been giving up her own time to drive Lambert around to gigs and auditions, only to see her not try her best. She insisted that her daughter audition again in another city, and Lambert sang “Crazy” in her second audition, winning her way onto the show.
Lambert had never even flown on an airplane at the time, and she admits she was very intimidated just by the thought of going to the airport, much less leaving her small-town Texas roots and flying to Nashville to compete on a nationally televised show.
“I was so scared of the DFW [Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport]. How am I going to navigate this?” Lambert recounted. “I have to land in Nashville and live in a house with 10 strangers. I basically treated it like moving into a dorm, I guess. That’s what it was. I just thought, ‘I have to give it my all. I’m here, I’ve made it, I’m going to try.'”
The challenges didn’t end there.
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“When the show started, the first episode, I was the first contestant to do the first song, on the first episode,” she revealed. “I was the youngest by 10 years. It was like, ‘Oh, this is fair.'”
Lambert opened her run on Nashville Star by singing a Hank Williams song titled “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” and she became a standout as the competition progressed, turning in a series of strong performances of both covers and an original song. Her years of experience playing in bars had toughened her up for the process of the show, she recalled.
“All my grit from the bars, all the moments where nobody was listening, people were clanking balls, people on the stage and booing you, requesting waltzes 24/7. It was like, everything that had culminated came to that moment. That was what set me on this journey.”
Lambert ultimately placed third on the show behind Buddy Jewell and John Arthur Martinez, and she was actually pleased that she did not win, since winning would have meant releasing a single that the record company had picked in advance that she didn’t really care for.
“I didn’t want the first song out of the gate, for my major label deal, to be something I didn’t like,” Lambert shared.
Instead, she parlayed the exposure from her run on the show into a deal with Epic Nashville, which released her major label debut album, Kerosene, in 2005. That album’s title song gave Lambert her first Top 20 hit, and her next album, 2007’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, proved to be a breakthrough, giving Lambert a Top 10 hit in “Gunpowder & Lead.” She has gone on to a career as one of the most important female country artists of her generation, and she recently released her seventh studio album, Wildcard.
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Bless Your Heart!