Interview: Talking to Kellie Pickler about her single If It Wasn’t For A Woman, being partly British and being on The Naughty List

Kellie Pickler has easily one of the best voices in country music. Her traditional southern style was meant for country music with a stunning tone that holds similarties to icons such as Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. Kellie first came on to our screens on American Idol, despite not winning, Kellie had and still has a very impressive career and for me, remains one of the most important women in country music.

You don’t get more honest than Kellie Pickler – Kellie has gifted us with some of the most beautiful and truthful music, inviting us into her personal life and her past. In 2007 she moved an entire audience to tears with her powerfully emotive and tearful performance of her single I Wonder at the 2007 CMA Awards.

I Wonder is one of Pickler’s most memorable songs from her 2006 album Small Town Girl and the song was written by Kellie along with Chris Lindsey, Aimee Mayo and Karyn Rochelle. The song’s lyrics speak of Kellie’s childhood and her absent mother.

Kellie has since released three albums after Small Town Girl which include self titled Kellie Pickler, 100 Proof and The Woman I Am. Notable songs released were Red High Heels 👠 , I Wonder, Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You, Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful, Best Days Of Your Life (feat Taylor Swift) and more.

Kellie has graced many impressive stages and tours including the LP Field stage at CMA Fest, tours with Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley and Sugarland and her most memorable tour is likely as part of Taylor Swift’s Fearless Tour which went across the US and Australia and also included one of my favourite country bands Gloriana.

In 2010 I took a trip to Washington DC to catch the last but one date on the Fearless Tour and was blown away by Kellie’s performance. I was desperate to see her live and she did not disappoint. Red High Heels is still one of my favourite country songs and I was very happy to see it live. Later that week we saw her on the main stage at CMA Fest where she was just as brilliant.

Kellie’s last album The Woman I Am was released in 2013 but Kellie hasn’t stopped working. Kellie’s career and personal life have grown from strength to strength with her marriage to songwriter Kyle Jacobs, appearing on and winning Dancing With The Stars with dance partner Derek Hough, starring in her own reality tv show I Love Kellie Pickler alongside her husband and to now hosting her own Talk show alongside journalist Ben Aaron (Pickler & Ben). The show premiered in September and is produced by Faith Hill.

Kellie has also recently released her new single If It Wasn’t For A Woman which is a spectacular ballad in honour of her late grandmother. The song is available now and can be purchased here

I caught up with Kellie to discuss the story of her latest single, her show Pickler & Ben, her Christmas tour with Phil Vassar and more. Kellie was such a joy to talk with – I have been a fan for so long that it was so nice to find her humble, down to earth, funny and so very warming.

I hope you enjoy it.

Hi Kellie – how are you? 

Kellie : I am good how are you doing?

Good thank you.

If It Wasn’t For A Woman is your current single and the first single for a few years – the song is so beautiful and personal. For those who don’t know the story behind the song, could you please tell us a bit?

Kellie: Absolutely. My grandmother Faye raised me; she was the woman that I called mum and I was so blessed to have her in my life. We wrote this song, my husband and I, with our friend Brian Bunn around our dining room table, on the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. She very much inspired the song; it is about strong women and that person in your life who helped make you who you are today. It is a very sweet tribute and honours her love and her grace and the woman that she was – and I can only hope to be half the woman that she was.

Thank you for sharing that. The passion, love and emotion comes out in your music quite often; you are one of the rare artists where the emotion is so honest, especially in this song and I Wonder. Is that important to you, to be truly honest?

Kellie: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I find that when you write music and you write lyrics it is so easy to tell the truth, Hannah, and it is a place that you should always be honest – in your writing. I find it easier to tell the story just the way it happened – you know what I mean? Yeah, I grew up listening to Country music at such a young age and I fell in love with Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells. I always admired the fact that they put their lives in the form of a song and they were storytellers; they went out on the road and they told these amazing stories that connected with people. So I always want to write from that honest place, from life; and I always wanted to grow up and be a storyteller and I am very blessed to be able to do so.

Your writing is proof that music truly is a healer. I have noticed that since this song has come out, so many people have reached out to you to say how this song is about their mother, grandmother, sister, friend.

Kellie: Yes, or their teacher, or their neighbour.

That must feel wonderful to have that feedback and to know that ultimately in many ways your grandmother has not just helped you but continues to help more people, even now,

Kellie: Oh, absolutely, thank you.

Did you have a song which did that for you, growing up?

Kellie: You know I always loved Dolly and Tammy – and Loretta represents such a strong woman. She has been through such hard times and persevered. She had common sense and was street smart; she was able to pull herself up and build such an amazing life. There are so many songs and so many artists that really inspired and helped me when I was grieving or having a sad time – or helped me celebrate a good time.

Tell us about the duet with Phil Vassar called The Naughty List which you just released – is it an original?

Kellie: Haha! Phil Vassar wrote that song and we are getting ready to do a Christmas tour together, so I said we need a Christmas song to go out and perform together, seeing as we are touring together. He wrote this fun song and we went into the studio and recorded it – and we just did a video for it. It is such a sweet, fun, sassy Christmas song.

I love it, it is really good. Was the line Red High Heels in there on purpose?

Kellie: Haha, I believe so! You will have to ask Phil about that, ha ha!

It was such a good reference and I have tried to see if I can hear anymore but haven’t yet.

The artwork for The Naughty List has both your names on it, but are all the other names of people you know?

Kellie: No. I am not sure who did the art work for that, I guess Phil’s team did it. Maybe some of the people in his team or his band may be on there – I will have to look and see. That is a good question; are we both on that ‘naughty list’ then?

Yeah, haha!

Hopefully you will be taken off the list by Christmas, haha!

Kellie: I hope so, haha!

You are also joining Phil Vassar on a Christmas tour which is exciting; what Christmas songs can we expect – any other originals, any other duets?

Kellie: I think so. We are still figuring out the whole set list and what we are going to do. We had production time this weekend to discuss all of that. We are going to do our own songs and songs together, covers and originals – and it might be different at every show, who knows?

I wish you could bring the tour here.

Are you working on a new album?

Kellie: Right now we are in the middle of working on our talk show Pickler and Ben in Nashville, so that’s pretty much keeping my hands full for the most part – and the Christmas tour, and what not. But I am definitely going to get back into the studio at some point.

Oh, good.

Tell us a bit about your show Pickler and Ben, as we sadly don’t get it here, as far as I am aware.

Kellie: Well, hopefully that will change eventually.

Oh, I hope so.

Kellie: It is a daytime lifestyle talk show shot in Nashville, Tennessee, which is the first time they have done that here which is amazing. We have DIY projects, we have guests who come on the show and we have different musical guests. We shine a light on small businesses, people in your home town or your communities who have great ideas. We have partnered with the Home Shopping Network. Everything on the show is shoppable. It is a wonderful, positive show, all happy and family friendly and lots of laughs, and so on.

I did see a clip of you singing with Kenny Rogers, which was brilliant.

Kellie: Oh yeah, that was so amazing, having him on the show; it was incredible. We did a show with Reba the other week for the holidays. I am really looking forward to seeing that episode; she is amazing. We have had some pretty spectacular guests and several talented people from America’s Got Talent. We have a little bit of everything on the show, for sure.

That show would work very well over here. We also really love our Country music here –have you been to the UK before?

Kellie: Well, the only time I have been over is with the USO (United Services Organisation) tour, who were in Cambridge and it was beautiful. I have been working with the USO for ten years now and I have been blessed to come over and entertain and bring a little ‘home’ over there to the base. It was amazing; I was only there for a short time, so I look forward to coming back and being a tourist for sure.

Yes, and to tour too, I hope. Are you familiar with Country 2 Country Festival?

Kellie: Yes, I have heard of it, I have never played but I would love to.

You will be so very, very welcomed to play it.

Kellie: Aww, you think so?

Oh, my gosh! We would love to have you here – people talk about you quite a lot.

Kellie: Really? Well, you know what? You will get a kick out of this – I just did an ancestory.com thing. I found out that I am 91 per cent British!

WOW! Really? Well, that settles it then!

Kellie: So it is funny that we are bringing this up about England, because I really need to go and do some research and see how far back I can find information and find some interesting facts. So maybe I can come over and do that and we can tour, haha, – and learn a little bit more about my history.

You should apply to be part of the program Who Do You Think You Are?, where they help you find all of that out.

Kellie: Oh yes, we have the same one.

Brilliant. Well, that way you can, for lack of a better phrasing, kill two birds with one stone and find out your history as well as tour here.

Kellie: Oh, that would be amazing.

Kellie: I might be wrong about this, but I think your documents, your files, go back further than any other place in the world right?

They may well do, it wouldn’t surprise me.

I myself travelled to America to see you in 2010 as part of Taylor Swift’s Fearless Tour and I know many who have travelled to see you, so you are definitely wanted here.

Kellie: Oh, that would be amazing. I would love to – maybe I can find some relatives, haha!

Yes, haha! You have to get on that program now, let’s make it happen. I would also love for your Christmas Tour to come here.

Kellie: Maybe next year, that would be lovely.

Oh, please do, as we don’t go all out at Christmas like you do in America.

Kellie: Hahaha! Maybe I will come over and decorate the streets!

Haha, yes!

Kellie: I will just hang Christmas lights everywhere; that’s funny!

Will you be doing a Christmas Special – or performing with Phil Vassar on Pickler and Ben?

Kellie: I am not sure yet, maybe.

Phil is coming over here next year, wish he could bring you.

Kellie: Oh, wonderful – that would be nice.

Well, as I have said, we love your new single and thank you so much for talking to me today – I really appreciate it.

Kellie: Thank you so much, Hannah.

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