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Flashback Friday: Good ole country girl Miranda Lambert

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I wrote the following piece based on a phone interview I had with Miranda Lambert in 2007. The story was originally published in the Fayetteville Observer on June 22, 2007, here.

Good ole country girl Miranda Lambert
Lisa Snedeker Correspondent

Country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert is sticking close to her roots, musically and personally.

Despite a third-place finish on the debut season of USA Network’s “Nashville Star,” a recording deal with Sony that has produced two hit albums and a Grammy nomination, Lambert’s heart and home remain in little Lindale, Texas, about 80 miles east of Dallas.

Lambert says she chose to buy a house in Lindale — population 4,000 and also home to another former “Nashville Star” contestant Casey Rivers — near her parents. Being in her hometown keeps the 23-year-old grounded.

I’m on the road so much, that when I am home, I want to get back to reality,” Lambert told Weekender in a recent telephone interview from San Antonio, Texas. “It’s important to me to stay close to my roots. I can relax here and be normal.”

So it should come as no surprise that her current hit single is titled “Famous In A Small Town.” It is the second single off her sophomore album “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” released May 1, and one of the eight of 11 songs on the album that she co-wrote.

“It’s everything that did or could happen in Lindale,” she said with a laugh.

The first single off “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” went to No. 1 on the Billboard top country album charts, where it is currently riding at No. 12, while “Famous” is at No. 34 on Billboard’s hot country songs chart.

Ever since her first album “Kerosene” caught fire and went platinum after its 2005 release, Lambert hasn’t had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Lindale.

“Kerosene,” which debuted at No. 1 like “Crazy Ex Girlfriend,” spawned the hit single of the same name and inspired a Pete Townsend-like guitar smashing on last year’s Country Music Association Awards in New York City.

On Saturday, Lambert, who has toured with country legend George Strait and heartthrob Keith Urban, opens for country heavy hitter Toby Keith at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh.

Lambert has been writing songs and performing since she was 16, when she starting showing up on Johnny High Country Music Review in Arlington, Texas, the show that helped launch country superstar LeAnn Rimes. Her parents were both private investigators, but it was her father, who is also a guitar player and songwriter, that helped Lambert hone her unique, heavy-hitting guitar sound.

The bubbly, petite blonde became half of one of country music’s hottest couples when she starting dating crooner Blake Shelton. Shelton, recently divorced, sold his Nashville home and moved back to Oklahoma.

But before there was Shelton, Lambert dated Casey Rivers of “Nashville Star” for about a month in high school.

“I’ve known him since fifth or sixth grade,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy. He auditioned my year (on ‘Nashville Star’), too. I thought he deserved to be there. I run into him every now and then in Lindale, but not often since he lives in Nashville now.”

Lambert, who recently took a week off to be with Shelton in Oklahoma, said the pair had a friendly wager on who would sell the most albums when they both released their projects on May 1. Lambert won. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” beat Shelton’s “Pure BS” by 4,499 copies, and he ended up at No. 2 behind his girlfriend. As a result, he owes her a vacation.

“I just had to go and date an Oakie,” she said laughing again. “We haven’t done our vacation yet because we haven’t been able to go, but we’re working on it. There’s been some hard stretches where we only see each other once a month, but being in this business, we don’t have time to get tired of each other. We have time to miss each other.”

Highlights of Lambert’s young career so far have been the chance to meet her idol Merle Haggard last summer, winning the Academy of Country Music award for Top New Female Vocalist last month and when she performed “Kerosene” at the CMAs in New York.

“Faith Hill and Tim McGraw were sitting in front of me, and it hit me that this is real,” she said. “How many people get to say they performed in Madison Square Garden?”

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