“Nashville Star” to New York Headliner
Country music superstar Miranda Lambert straddles the line between unapologetic and sentimental, with an authentic songwriting ability coupled with vocal prowess and style. The Texas native who also happens to be married to Blake Shelton has been at it for well over ten years, since breaking as a finalist on reality competition show “Nashville Star” in 2003. Present day, the platinum siren won the Grammy last month for Best Country Album; Lambert is the most-nominated artist at this year’s upcoming 50th Academy of Country Music Awards, with eight nods, vying for Entertainer of the Year as the only female up against Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. Miranda wowed us last month at the Grammys where she received her most-ever nominations in one year (four) and she’s in the thick of her Certified Platinum tour, which stops at her first headlining solo date at Madison Square Garden on March 28. Miranda got candid with New York City Monthly about her stardom as well as some memories of New York City.
NYCM: You have been nominated for a host of Grammy awards over the years and you’ve won as well. What was it like to be nominated for four this year? It’s the most you’ve ever been recognized with for your massive album “Platinum,” single “Automatic” and the explosive “Somethin’ Bad” with Carrie Underwood.
Miranda Lambert: Yeah, it’s – I was actually shocked that day. They announced it on Twitter so every time I would get a text before I even saw it. That’s what you hope for and that’s what you work for – the Grammys are it. This is validation. All your hard work is paying off. It is special to get nominated with your friends – Carrie and I have kind of grown up together, we have a mutual respect for one another. It was a big deal to get to sing with her cause she’s an awesome vocalist. It was a little rock ‘n roll moment for us, a departure from what we do every day.
NYCM: Some New Yorkers attended your 2010 show at Terminal 5 with supporting acts Eric Church and Josh Kelley, and all members of Lady Antebellum were in attendance. Around that time, it was a turning point for country music in New York and around the country, becoming more nationally recognized. Why do you think country music has grown so much over the past four or five years?
ML: I do agree. I don’t really know exactly what changed. It’s kind of like a genre that people have heard of and it wasn’t at the forefront. But now it’s popular music, and it’s the biggest thing now. I attribute it to like Taylor Swift for opening up audiences, cause she’s such a crossover. I think that has a lot to do with it. I think Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, they are innovative and different. All the different kinds of music – there’s something for everybody and that’s what people are figuring. Literally, Nashville is a small family – if you go to the CMAs or ACMs, everybody is routing for one another. There are collaborations and it’s just country people telling their stories.
NYCM: Do you have a particular New York City milestone or memory that stands out from your past where you really connected with the city?
ML: New York is one of my favorite places. I feel like the people remind me of – they love you but they don’t really care what you think. There’s hospitality but there’s like it or leave it, like in Texas. That’s sort of the attitude in New York too. It’s a fun city to get locked up in. It’s so fun walking around on a day off. The first time I ever played on the CMAs it was at Madison Square Garden (2005), I did “Kerosene.” It was my first time to ever do a TV performance at one of those events so I was so nervous and it sort of enlarged me to the whole industry. The whole stage got caught on fire. I couldn’t believe I was on stage, a baby artist playing with fire. It definitely was a huge moment in my career.
NYCM: Country music is a bit of a boys club right now, there are not too many females as you know. Who are some female acts country or otherwise that are on your radar right now?
ML: I definitely like to champion females in the business. We have to stick together. RaeLynn has got everything it takes to be a superstar and I know it’s going to happen, so she’s definitely my little – I like to take her under my wing. My best friend [Pistol Annies’ band member Ashley Monroe] wrote some of her new stuff. She’s coming on the tour for a couple of weekends. Sunny Sweeney, Danielle Bradbery – I kind of have a “Voice” thing. Gwen Sebastian, Blake just had a song out with her.
NYCM: You are married to another heavyweight in country music, Blake Shelton, who had the rare double duty of hosting and performing on Saturday Night Live. Did you get to think up any interesting ideas for sketches on SNL?
ML: I didn’t. I think that Blake was perfect for it. This is right up his alley. We basically live an SNL skit – he’s crazy and so much fun. I was a little bit nervous though. I didn’t know what kind of crazy he was going to pull. I was at a show in West Virginia so we had to have a watch party on the road.
NYCM: Has your music or songwriting process changed since becoming married?
ML: I think it’s probably less. When you become a wife and we have a farm and responsibilities. I write less than I used to. I don’t think the way that I write has changed. People get worried about that. I feel like it’s the same as it was. The best part about it is he knows exactly what I’m going through and it really works.
NYCM: How was it teaming up with Team Shakira on The Voice rather than Blake as a mentor to contestants during Season 6?
ML: It was great. I loved it. He thought it was great too. He loves Shakira and so do I. It felt like the right thing to do, I’d already been a mentor for Blake. She’s such a powerhouse badass artist. So cool to hear her talking with the contestants, offering advice.
NYCM: “Automatic” has a great message about simpler times, manners and slowing down in our fast-paced society. What can you tell New Yorkers about your life in Nashville and Texas and do you have any advice on slowing down, meditating, or just taking it all in and not missing moments that matter?
ML: You know, I think it’s important to just sit on a porch every now and then and just observe your surroundings. All the craziness of life, we live somewhere that is very slow-paced and I think that saves my life. My job is very busy and crazy and high-profile. At home I like riding horses, sitting on the porch and being still and enjoying my surroundings.
NYCM: “Smokin and Drinkin'” is a stand-out on your most recent album, with a lot of emotion behind it, melodically and lyrically. How did this duet come about?
ML: With Little Big Town – I actually just thought it up myself. I’m a huge fan of Little Big Town. I thought the harmony parts would be so beautiful and they are good friends of mine. It was fun, they are such good people and I’m hoping it will be a single.
Miranda Lambert’s Certified Platinum Tour features special guests Justin Moore, Ashley Monroe and Jukebox Mafia. (RaeLynn, Sunny Sweeney and Danielle Bradbery play other markets).
(Photo Credit: Marc Nader)