Miranda Lambert (November 10, 1983)
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Born in Longview, Texas and raised in Lindale, Miranda Lambert learned about Country music – and guns – from her father. Her interest in Country music was sparked when her parents took her to a Garth Brooks concert when she was nine years old. She began performing professionally in high school, singing with a band at the historic Reo Palm Isle Ballroom in Longview which has also featured acts such as Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, and Loretta Lynn.
When she was a child, bad investments led to her family losing their home and, faced with homelessness, moving in with Lambert's uncle. The family eventually moved into a nearby dilapidated rental house, which Miranda's father said probably would have been demolished had they not moved in to it. With only enough money to fix up one room at a time and her father doing anything to provide for his family – including digging ditches for four dollars an hour – they slowly pieced their lives back together. Years later, when Lambert heard "The House That Built Me" on a pitch CD intended for Blake Shelton, it reminded her so much of that house that Shelton insisted she record it. The song went to #1 on Billboard's country music chart in 2010 and won Lambert her first Grammy for Best Country Female Vocal Performance.
Lambert placed third in 2003 in Nashville Star, Country music's version of American Idol. She was actually hoping she wouldn't win because she was afraid that signing a recording contract would force her to change her style. Before eventually signing with Sony, she told label executives that if they would not let her make her music her own way, which included writing her own songs and playing her own guitar, she would not sign and would just go back to playing Texas honky tonks. John Grady, the head of the Sony record label, assured her that she would be allowed to make her own music. Her first album, Kerosene, debuted at #1 on the Billboard country chart, and of the 12 songs, Lambert wrote 11 of them. The title track was a Top 20 hit in 2005.
In 2005, Lambert performed "You're the Reason God Make Oklahoma" with Blake Shelton on CMT's 100 Greatest Duets. It was their first performance together and Lambert said that she felt an inexplicable draw to Shelton, who was married at the time. She said in a 2011 interview on Dateline NBC that she "knew better" than to pursue a relationship with him. "My parents are private investigators for God's sake. I've seen this my whole life – affairs. Of all people to know better, I know better than this." Shelton divorced his wife a year later and Lambert and Shelton were married in 2011.
Lambert picked up her second straight Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year award in 2011. This came on the heels of her release of Four the Record, which made history by debuting at the #1 spot on Billboard's country music chart. This made Lambert the first artist in the 47-year history of the chart to have her first four albums debut at the top spot.
Saying she wanted to "build an empire," Lambert formed the Pistol Annies, a female trio with Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe, in 2011. The group's debut album, Hell on Heels, was critically acclaimed and debuted at the top of the Country chart in August 2011. Lambert told USA Today that the group sings "housewife music." Lambert said, "We write about things that women are thinking but not necessarily saying."
At the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards, Lambert told us about her songwriting influences: "My dad is actually a singer/songwriter. I grew up listening to his songs. And as I got older and he would sing his songs around the campfire, he would also sing Merle Haggard and David Allan Coe and Guy Clark and Jerry Jeff Walker. And I couldn't tell the difference sometimes if it was one of their songs or one of my dad's. So I just loved songwriting so much since then, you know, it's in my blood."
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