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Lambert’s a ‘shooting star’ far from burning out

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published April 12, 2012 at 4:35 a.m.

Miranda Lambert

— When will the music industry, other entertainers and actors learn not to mess with Miranda Lambert?

Not only does she have a concealed weapon permit, but her mouth is just about as dangerous a weapon when she sees a wrong that needs to be righted.

She famously spoke out after the Grammy Awards, puzzled about why Chris Brown had been invited to perform when he’s still on probation for his attack on girlfriend Rihanna.

Now she’s upset with TV actor Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men) for poking fun at country music — or at her — at the recent Academy of Country Music awards show in Las Vegas. Not only was Kutcher wearing a large black hat and especially colorful garb, but he also sang (badly, according to reports) a version of George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart,” as he presented Lambert with the Female Vocalist of the Year Award.

“Was Ashton Kutcher making fun of country or is it just me?” she Tweeted on Twitter.

Lambert, 28, the deerhunting daughter of a retired police officer who became a private investigator with his wife, became a country music fan when her parents took the then 9-year-old Miranda to a Garth Brooks concert. After getting her dad to teach her how to play guitar, she took a gig in the house band in a Longview, Texas, ballroom that has been around long enough to have showcased Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and the bar band beginnings of Brooks & Dunn.

She has been building her singer-songwriter career since her third-place finish in 2003 on the country reality TV show, Nashville Star, which led to her major label debut album, Kerosene, on Epic Records in 2005.

Thanks to the album’s four Top 40 hit singles, “Me and Charlie Talking,” “Bring Me Down,” “New Strings” and the title cut, the CD was certified platinum for sales of more than a million copies.

Her second album, 2007’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, produced three Top 20 singles: “Famous in a Small Town,” “Gunpowder & Lead” and “More Like Her.” Another two years passed and her third album, Revolution, brought Lambert her first No. 1 hits: “Heart Like Mine” and “The House That Built Me,” which resulted in her first Grammy Award in 2010.

Other awards have been piling up, as well. The Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music have named Lambert their female vocalist of the year, Maxim magazine named her one of the “Hottest Women of Country” and Esquire magazine named her its “Terrifying Woman of the Year” in 2008.

Life just keeps on getting more interesting for Lambert, who married another hitmaking country singer, Blake Shelton, on May 14. They live in Tishomingo, Okla., near the state line with Texas. Besides a husband in 2011, she also took on a side project, The Pistol Annies, with two other women, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. The trio released their first album, Hell on Heels, in April 2011, and the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart. And the group recorded a song, “Run Daddy Run” for the soundtrack of the currently popular movie, The Hunger Games.

Lambert and Shelton enjoyed a short honeymoon before Lambert returned to a studio to finish her fourth CD, Four the Record, which recently was named Album of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.

Acting has also found its way onto Lambert’s resume, with a Feb. 12 appearance as a rape survivor on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, one of her favorite shows.

As Lambert worked her way toward headliner status, she toured as an opening act for Keith Urban, George Strait, Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith. For her opening acts this spring, Lambert chose a pair of promising newcomers.

Chris Young, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., followed Lambert’s path to fame, winning the 2006 Nashville Star competition. He released his self-titled debut album later that year, and it produced two hit singles: “Drinkin’ Me Lonely” and “You’re Gonna Love Me.” His second CD, The Man I Want To Be, released in 2009, had three No. 1 singles: “Voices,” “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” and the title cut. He has gone on to rack up five No. 1 hit singles in a row, including “Tomorrow” and “You,” the first singles from his No. 1 album, Neon, released in July.

Jerrod Niemann took another road to country music success, working his way up as a writer or co-writer of hits for others. A Kansas native, he moved to Nashville, Tenn., and co-wrote three songs for Garth Brooks: “Good Ride Cowboy,” “That Girl Is a Cowboy” and “Midnight Sun.” John Anderson, Jamey Johnson, Neal McCoy and Julie Roberts have also recorded his songs.

In 2010, Niemann signed with Brad Paisley’s Sea Gayle label, which released his debut major label album, Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury, containing his first No. 1 hit, “Lover, Lover,” and the singles “What Do You Want” and “One More Drinkin’ Song.”

Just a month ago, Niemann survived a fire on his tour bus.

Miranda Lambert

Opening acts: Chris Young, Jerrod Niemann

7:30 p.m. Friday, Verizon Arena, East Broadway and Interstate 30, North Little Rock

Tickets: $51.75, $36.75 reserved; $51.75 standing room only in pit

(800) 745-3000

www.ticketmaster.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 04/12/2012

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