March 27, 2008
Emerging in era of country music noticeably short on compelling new female artists, Miranda Lambert quickly established herself as one of those rare acts that appeals to both mainstream country music fans and the alternative and American crowds that usually shun mass-market Nashville music.
Not bad for a woman who got her first big break on the much-maligned Nashville Star talent show. Lambert came in third during the inaugural 2003 season of that reality show, but even though she was only nineteen years old then, she’d already been actively pursuing a country music career for the past few years, fronting her own country band in high school and releasing a self-titled (and self-financed) independent CD in 2001.
But it was her stint on Star that secured her a major-label contract, and after taking the time to write her own debut album, she released Kerosene in 2005. The lead single, “Me and Charlie Talking”, had gotten only moderate airplay, so it was a shock to industry observers when the album opened at #1 on Top Country Albums chart.
As would become the norm for Lambert, the critical acclaim was widespread, but country radio was hesitant to embrace the singles. The biggest hit from the album, the title track, cracked the top fifteen and earned Lambert her first Grammy nomination. Her fiery performance of the song at the 2005 CMA awards, along with its visually stunning video, helped push the album to a platinum certification.
After two Horizon Award nominations and a Grammy nod, Lambert finally won her first award in the spring of 2007, ACM Top New Female Vocalist. That same evening, she was a surprise nominee for Top Female Vocalist, a nod that the CMA would match the following fall.
2007 also saw the release of her sophomore set, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which became her second consecutive #1 album. It was the most critically acclaimed country album of that year, and garnered raves from newspapers and magazines that don’t traditionally cover country music at all. The single “Famous in a Small Town” became her highest-charting hit to date, and earned her a second consecutive Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Late in 2007, Lambert released the powerful spousal abuse anthem “Gunpowder & Lead”, which is off to an encouraging start at country radio. Her ability to craft smart, compelling songs at such a young age points to a promising future, but she already has a solid debut album and an outstanding second one under her belt. Lambert has quickly become one of the most significant female artists of the past four years, and looks poised to have a lasting impact on the genre in the years to come.
- “Bring Me Down”, 2005
- “Kerosene”, 2005
- “Famous in a Small Town”, 2007
- “Gunpowder & Lead”, 2007
- Kerosene (2005)
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2007)
- ACM Top New Female Vocalist, 2007
- ACM Album of the Year (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), 2008