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Kellie Pickler interview, opening for Taylor Swift at Gwinnett Arena Wednesday

When I did my first interview with Kellie Pickler three years ago, she was packing and rather distracted. It wasn’t a good interview. Her publicist told me later that she told Kellie that that wasn’t a good way to do a phone interview.

Since then, she’s been greatly improved, offering up amusing stories and commentary in her goofy, charming way.

This is my fourth time talking to her, maybe my fifth. After three years, I have to say she is definitely more refined. The result: fewer anecdotes, more platitudes. Then again, I probably didn’t ask the right questions to elicit better anecdotes. Anyway, she does sound happy — and busy as always.

“I’m young,” she said. “I’m going to hit it hard while I can.” She said she wants to be like Loretta Lynn, who is still touring in her 70s. “She might never quit doing it,” she said.

And despite the ditzy exterior, she seems to have a good head on her shoulders: “I want to prove to country radio and the fans and critics that I’m really here for the long run,” she said. “I don’t want to be a fad. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Highlights from this year? “Being on the road with Taylor [Swift.] And getting to meet Loretta Lynn. She’s one of my idols. I got to hang out with her and talk to her and her family and her crew. They’re just the perfect example of the kind of person you want to be in the industry.”

I asked her about “Best Days of Your Life,” her first top 10 single, which took more than six months to reach its peak. “It was the never-ending single!” she said. I noted that the single only took off after the video (featuring co-writer Taylor Swift) came out three months after it was introduced to radio. Why did it take so long?

“You tell me! I’m ain’t going to get into all that,” she said. She made sure the video for the next single “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You” will be ready to go when it hits radio this week.

Q: You guys [she and Taylor] met on the Brad Paisley tour a couple of years ago and became fast friends. How’s it been going?

A: A long time ago, she asked me if I’d go on the road with her if she ever headlines. I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Of course!’ And now she has. It’s been great fun. We’re really enjoying each other. She’s like a little sister to me.

Q: Why do you two mesh?

A: I’m crazy. She’s sane. She keeps me in line. She takes care of me! She’s only 19 but she’s already a smart businesswoman and an incredible songwriter. And she’s great with her fans.

Q: How’s the reaction been on tour so far?

A: Oh my gosh! It’s the loudest screams you’d ever heard in your life in the front. If you sit there, you can hardly hear her from the screaming kids! It’s insane! She’s such a beautiful role model. If I had a little girl or boy, I’d be happy to have them looking up to her. She’s got it together!

Q: You’ve become a Twitter fiend. I remember you telling me you weren’t a big technology person. How did this happen?

A: Taylor taught me how to do it. My iPhone is barely working. It’s got tape on the back of it. I’ve dropped it a million times. Someone got me some new 3G phone or something like that. I haven’t even activated it yet. For some reason, I can’t get rid of this dinky phone. It’s been through hell and back… I end up Tweeting random things. I don’t use it to promote myself much. It’s more silly stuff I get myself into.

[For example, her twitter.com/therealpickler page features her talking about her favorite Disney films being "Beauty & the Beast," "Peter Pan" and "The Little Mermaid." And this random thought from this morning:

I've got this jingle stuck in my head...."what would you do for a klondike bar??"...y'all remember that commercial?
about 2 hours ago from web]

Q: People have said you should do your own sitcom like “Reba.”

A: It’s possible. I’d love to do TV down the road. Right now, it’s important for me to keep establishing myself as a country singer. I don’t feel like I’m ready right now [to do something else.] For the most part, the past three years have flown by so fast. In the beginning, it was rush rush rush, go go go. I hardly remember the first two years. I hardly remember doing the show! This is the first time I’ve had a chance to step back and enjoy it a bit. I want to take my time and enjoy it, remember it.

Q: What did you think of Paula leaving the show?

A: I didn’t even find out about it til days later! People ask me, ‘How did you not know that?’ I don’t know. I have a job. I have to work. But I’m not surprised. She’s been doing it for eight years. If she’s not happy, she needs to move on. Do what makes you happy.

Q: How’s the Soles4Souls charity going?

A: I love working with that organization. The guy who came up with the idea saw the damage after the tsunami a couple years ago and saw a shoe floating in the water. That’s how he came up with the idea to provide shoes to people who can’t afford them. In the third world, a lot of people get sick through bacteria through their feet. And you know — I love shoes! I get pedicures all the time.

Q: What are your favorite shoes right now?

A: It’s Christian Louboutin. [I though she said Louis Vitton at first. She had to spell the brand name out for me since I know zip about shoes, which she said, "I'm impressed you don't know! It's probably a good thing for a man!"] His shoes are immaculate. They are so beautiful and sexy. All the shoes are red on the bottom. And red is my favorite color.

Q: Okay. I got this interview set up through ABC and the CMA Festival special Monday. I do need to ask a question about that. So how did that go?

A: It was amazing being able to co-host last year. This year, I was able to do a fun piece going downtown and meeting the fans. I did a little tour of Nashville and performed downtown in one of those little honkytonks. I had a great time. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

IN CONCERT
Taylor Swift, with Kellie Pickler and Gloriana opening
Thursday, Sept 3, 7 p.m.
Gwinnett Arena, Duluth
$20-$49.50 (That’s pretty darn reasonable in this day and age)
www.ticketmaster.com

29 comments Add your comment

kelly&carriefan

August 31st, 2009
12:24 pm

Great interview! I do have to agree, that she’s sounding a bit more polished, but that’s to be expected I guess. She’s still comes across as charming and funny as ever. She’s definitely a random tweeter…and while I can see her doing a show a la Reba, I agree that it’s too soon.

Lara

August 31st, 2009
12:41 pm

Hey, I love The Little Mermaid too!!!
Good interview Rodney! She was bound to get good at interviews sooner or later.

JTesla

August 31st, 2009
1:15 pm

Thanks Rodney, great interview!

Heather MacDonald

August 31st, 2009
1:18 pm

I am a Pickler fan for sure. She has always been herself in interviews, no matter what. I really admire anyone that can be themselves when placed in the media glare.

Woodpappy

August 31st, 2009
1:31 pm

Enjoyed the interview Rodney…..

Rickster

August 31st, 2009
1:51 pm

Can’t believe that Kellie is opening for Taylor Swift. For me… there’s something wrong with that.

Becky

August 31st, 2009
2:01 pm

Love Kellie, can’t stand Taylor..Guess she’s there for the kids..

Bone

August 31st, 2009
2:12 pm

Not sure what’s wrong with the Rickster and Becky, but what is it with Taylor? Successful and a great role model…must be jealousy by these two. Taylor is a better role model for kids than 99% of others out there today. At least these kids can relate to her music. Taylor opened for Keith Urban in Atlanta and was great.

Harriett

August 31st, 2009
2:19 pm

Matter of opinion to me. I do not like Taylor Swift at all, but do love Kellie. Different strokes, etc.

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

August 31st, 2009
2:22 pm

Nope, Bone, not jealousy — just some of us really don’t “get” Taylor… She’s ‘aight, for me, but… for you maybe more than just ‘aight, right?

seriously, that’s what makes it so great around here!!! if we all liked the same people and sounds, we’d never need to blog about it!!!

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

August 31st, 2009
2:24 pm

^5 Harriett!!! whoohoooo!!! i’m so busy i can’t see straight, but had to jump in for a sec, there!!!! I missed you guys, but not TOO much, LOL!!! put a few pics on my facebook for those who know me…

seeeee yaaaaa!

Steve

August 31st, 2009
2:45 pm

I cant stand taylor swift. Shes to much of a teeny bopper and a wannabe. I like kelli though.

Harriett

August 31st, 2009
2:51 pm

linny, your photo of the sunrise was simply exquisite. I took a few of the full moon on the water while at the beach, but did not publish them. I had one that was pretty good, though not as good as yours!

Deirdre

August 31st, 2009
3:11 pm

I’m studiously avoiding creating a facebook page. I’m on the computer way too much as it is.

Bone. If I was to pick a singer I wanted to listen to and my only choices were Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift…I’d pick Kellie. Much better voice in my opinion. Taylor may be successful and a good role model but she really isn’t much in the singing voice department.

JTesla

August 31st, 2009
3:12 pm

I remember back in the day when Britney Spears was considered to be a great role model. Thought I’d throw that out there.

JTesla

August 31st, 2009
3:13 pm

Deirdre, give in to the dark side!

Rickster

August 31st, 2009
3:53 pm

I saw Taylor a couple of years ago on one the myriad country music award shows. Wasn’t impressed with her vocals.

And then she had them dump a bunch of water on her and started beating her hands on the stage. I SURE don’t understand what that had to do with music – country or otherwise.

I was as speechless as Simon after Adam Lambert’s version of “Ring of Fire.”

Highlander

August 31st, 2009
3:55 pm

I sometimes think Charles Barkley had it sussed out. Parents should be role models.

Celebrities? How do we know for sure what any of them are really like? How much of what you see is real or just a persona worked out by a publicist or marketing director?

For all we really know, Taylor Swift might spend her free time pulling wings off insects. This usually leads to torturing small animals which, in turn, leads to serial killing. (Probably why she did the CSI episode – fascination with death.)

So there it is! Maybe she’s not a role model. …Maybe she’s a potential serial killer. :-)

Highlander

August 31st, 2009
4:06 pm

RH, great interview with Kellie.

I wouldn’t want her to get too polished at the whole celebrity interview thing, though. A lot of her charm was her wide-eyed, wacky personality.

Becky

August 31st, 2009
4:43 pm

Bone, no jealousy here..I don’t deny that she is very successful and a great role model, I just don’t think that she can sing that great..I like the lyrics to her songs, just think that they would sound better with someone else singing them..But she does sing better than I can..

Ray

August 31st, 2009
4:49 pm

The joy of Kellie Pickler is in watching a true “diamond in the rough” develop and mature as an artist and as an adult. Kellie had “star quality” from day one on Idol – or as Paula said: “the camera is in love with you”. Clearly Ms. Pickler has a good head on her shoulders and I can only think she will work extremely hard to keep growing the opportunity she has been given….

JTesla

August 31st, 2009
4:58 pm

Highlander, that’s some mighty sound reasoning there regarding Taylor.

Rodney needs to keep an official tally of his Pickler interviews because I’m certain she will be around for years to come. Hopefully she is as fun in interview number 17 as she was in interview 4.

Mark

August 31st, 2009
7:39 pm

Taylor may not have the greatest voice in music, but she is still pretty damn good. She writes all of her own music & lyrics, plays guitar & piano and continues to be somebody I am proud to have my 6 year old daughter look up to. Keep in mind she is only 18 and already a very accomplished artist.

Highlander

August 31st, 2009
8:23 pm

Vocally, Taylor Swift is fairly average. The question I ask is, did she break-out in Country music because it fit her “wholesome image” or was she marketed with a “wholesome image” to help her break-out in Country?

It seems the only way for a “wholesome” artist to break-out in Pop these days is to be involved a Disney Channel program, then the artist gets the full marketing power of Disney ramped up behind them to cross-promote the show. (Can anyone say Miley, Demy??)

JTesla

August 31st, 2009
8:55 pm

I do respect the fact that she is also a writer. Since many bemoan the decline of modern music from the lofty pinnacle of the 50’s and 60’s to today’s constant dirge of preprocessed garbage, perhaps we should celebrate artists like Taylor Swift a little bit more.

Please note, I don’t consider the 50’s and 60’s to be the height of musical development. That time is reserved for the year 1985. “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora anyone?

Harm

August 31st, 2009
10:03 pm

I’m still hanging around here when I can. The cold is almost gone, however, I tried to break my foot yesterday, thankfully I failed in my attempt.

Welcome back Linny and Harriet.

I’m watching the country music festival thingy that is on right now with my black and blue foot!

Hope to talk to all of you soon!

Nana

September 1st, 2009
6:29 am

Good Morning Everybody.

Today’s Quote: “What you do today can change the course of your life far into the future. Today is critical. Today really counts.”

Enjoyed the interview with Kellie, Rodney. She was a favorite of mine from the very first time I heard her 1st audition on AI. I think, and this is my opinion only, that she will have a great career in CM. She may be off to a slow start, but that is to her advantage. Alot of times, a fast start will stall before long. Case in point, would be be Gretchen Wilson. She started out fast and now, you never hear anything about her. Fast is not always a good thing.

Heather MacDonald

September 1st, 2009
6:44 am

Harm, hope your foot feels better soon! Nana, I completely agree that a fast start is not always a good thing. The artists who take a while to reach the pinnacle (i.e., Shania Twain and Martina McBride) are the ones who seem to last.

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