American Idol

Kellie Pickler: A “100 Proof” Love of Cats

January 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm , by

Photo: Russ Harrington

Are you a cat lover who’s tired of the host of feline fashion faux paws … er, pas … that you see in the stores? Well, you’ve got a friend in country music’s Kellie Pickler, who recently teamed up with Fresh Step litter and the ASPCA for a great cause that’ll benefit both cats in need and your wardrobe.

Now through March 15, in honor of February being Cat Appreciation Month, Fresh Step litter will donate $1 (up to $100,000) to the ASPCA for every photo posted on their Facebook page of a pet owner wearing a cat-proud outfit. If your closet is currently cat-pride free, relax and don’t cough up a hairball. That’s why Pickler partnered with fashion designer and fellow cat lover Geren Ford, creating the limited-edition sweater you see Pickler wearing here. When you visit the ASPCA website to purchase the sweater ($35), 100% of the proceeds benefits the ASPCA. You can also virtually “try on” the sweater at Fresh Step’s Facebook page, post it, and make the $1 donation. It’s so easy, your cat can probably do it!

Pickler, who unfortunately had to relocate her beloved cat Pickles due to her husband’s severe allergies, is thrilled to be part of such a pro-cat program, brushing off any fear of being stamped with a “crazy cat lady stigma” as cooly as she’d brush cat hair off a couch. “I’m not ashamed of anything,” she says matter-of-factly. “I don’t really worry about what everybody else is doing and what they like. I kind of do my own thing. I love cats and I’m not going to not love cats just because somebody else doesn’t think it’s cool. I don’t think they’re cool if they don’t like cats.”

She was in a similar mindset while making her brand new CD, 100 Proof, which is out today and takes Pickler back to some more traditional country roots. “On my last album, I made a record based on what I thought radio would play and what I thought people would want to hear,” she explains. “I didn’t do that with this record. I’m not trying to get anybody to like me with this album. Nothing’s forced. I was me, I didn’t make this record for anyone but me and I think it’s okay to do things for yourself every now and then.” Her new approach has produced an album that is her strongest, most personal effort yet. In fact, by not worrying about what anyone wanted to hear, she just may have made the record everyone was waiting for after falling in love with her on American Idol in 2006.

Continue on after the jump for more dish about Pickler’s brand new CD …

Read more

LHJ Hits the CMT Music Awards Red Carpet

June 6, 2011 at 9:09 am , by

Nashville is gearing up to host its biggest party of the year and I’m just about busting out of my boots. On Wednesday, I’ll be joining in on the fun by camping out on the CMT Music Awards red carpet. I’ll, of course, be gawking at the scene’s hottest acts as they arrive for the show, but also asking them the questions you want to know. It’s country music’s fan-voted awards show, after all, so we thought the fans (our readers!) should also weigh in on what we should ask. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at rckcountrycat so you can keep up with all the excitement in real time.

Some really big names are going to be there: host Kid Rock,  Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Luke Bryan, Sara Evans, the Zac Brown Band, Shania Twain, American IdolsScotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina and more. Even Justin Bieber (who’s nominated with Rascal Flatts for Collaborative Video of the Year) will be there!

So let me know your questions for the nominees and presenters. Fire away and post them below. I’ll do my best to get as many answered on the red carpet as I can. And if you just want to weigh in on who you think should win, let us hear that as well.

In the meantime, continue on after the jump for some videos from the talented acts that will be joining LHJ and CMT for our second annual afternoon of Do Good volunteering at Feeding America’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. We’ll be partnering with CMT One Country to help stuff backpacks for Feeding America’s BackPack program, which provides nutritious food to those school children who need it most. In fact, instead of giving out those pricey gift bags full of electronics and other goodies most awards shows give out to talent, CMT opts to make a generous donation to the BackPack program instead. It’s a great idea, and we’re thrilled about helping prep the much needed backpacks for distribution.

Check out the amazing talent we have joining us at out volunteer afternoon at Feeding America, including Steel Magnolia, who are up for best Duo Video of the Year for “Last Night Again” at this year’s CMT Music Awards. We were lucky enough to have Josh and Meghan visit us in the office this year to do a rockin’ acoustic set for our staff. To see videos from the other great artists (Crystal BowersoxJimmy Wayne, Carter’s Chord, Margaret Durante and Coldwater Jane) we’re excited to have joining us for our volunteer adventure, read on after the jump:

Read more

Cheat Sheet: Four Things You Maybe Missed This Week

May 27, 2011 at 11:16 am , by

1. Scotty McCreery Wins American Idol

The country singer beat out Lauren Alaina to win season 10.

2. Oprah Says Goodbye

After 25 years, Oprah turned off her mike.

3. Momma Cat Hugs Kitten

O.M.G. the cutest thing I have ever seen in the history of the world.

4. Summer’s Here

It’s Memorial Day weekend! Go out and have some fun!

Crystal Bowersox Pays a Visit to Ladies’ Home Journal!

February 14, 2011 at 11:46 am , by

crystal bowersoxLast year’s American Idol runner up Crystal Bowersox clearly hasn’t let fame go to her head. When she visited the LHJ offices last week she actually arrived early—not late, like you might expect from most rock stars—and was chatty and down-to-earth.

She treated staffers to a special acoustic performance of several songs from her debut album, Farmer’s Daughter, including the deeply personal title track that brought more than a few people to tears. Bowersox, an avid songwriter, also performed two bonus tracks not on the album: the uplifting “Finally Got it Right” and the more somber “Numb.”

Since her time on American Idol, Bowersox has toured with her fellow Idol contestants and gotten married to musician Brian Walker. A type 1 diabetic, she’s also decided to use her celebrity to work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. So how is the 25-year-old handling it all? “My life definitely isn’t the same but I feel like I’ve returned to a sense of normalcy,” she said. “I’m a married woman now and my son just turned two so life is good! The best part about all of this is just finally having the ability to share my music with the fans and with other musicians. I’m doing what I love for a living. I’m so happy right now.”

Watch a bonus performance from Crystal after the jump! Read more

Katharine McPhee’s Do-Good Summer Plans

July 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm , by

mcphee1American Idol alum, Katharine McPhee, has teamed up ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America for an amazing project called, Hunger-Free Summer. 19.5 million American children are on free or reduced meals during the school year, and when school lets out, only 2.2 million of them are getting that free food over the summer. That leaves 17 million kids who go hungry during the summer because they’re no longer getting government-funded meals. “We’re working with 23 food banks and trying to bridge that gap,” says McPhee. “Our goal is to feed 25 percent more kids this summer than last.”

I spoke with Katharine about what drew her to this cause, how she’s helping, what we can do to eradicate hunger in America—and I couldn’t let her go without finding out what other projects she has up her sleeve.

Were you surprised by the hunger crisis in America?
When I heard that 1 in 4 kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from, I was shocked. A friend of mine is a schoolteacher in Minnesota and she said she had a student who was sneaking sandwiches because they were starving. And when kids are hungry, they can’t focus in school and they sometimes cause problems in the classroom. I just didn’t think about hunger existing in this country—especially not in LA where I grew up.

You’ll be visiting food banks in at least six cities. What will you being doing there?
My main duty is to talk to food bank representatives and see how we can make the program better every summer. Many of the kids’ parents will be working, so they’ll be dropped off at supervised areas close to the food bank. And they spend their days there because they get lunch and dinner. So I’m there just to remind them that they’re kids, play with them and maybe sing a couple songs with them.

What can our readers do to help?
You can go to my website,, and there are links to the programs that I’m working on. There are so many ways you can make a difference. In these economic times, it’s really hard to ask people for money. I get that, but this issue is not just about money. It’s about giving time.

Find out what Katharine is up to next…

Read more

Idol Chatter: Kara DioGuardi Interview

January 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm , by

Headshot 2009Yesterday, I spoke with American Idol judge, Kara DioGuardi, about this season’s contestants, Simon’s surprising departure, Ellen’s much-anticipated arrival and her latest music endeavor—jingles.

You guys have had quite a week—how is everyone handling the news of Simon leaving?

We’re all sad. It’s difficult to see somebody leave who’s been such an important part of the show. He has incredibly unique takes on the contestants, he’s funny and witty, and he’s able to say things in a way that no one else can. We’re going to miss him.

How is Ellen doing so far?

She’s doing an awesome job. And the dynamic is really coming together nicely. She’s a natural judge—she’s warm, funny and critical when she needs to be. She knows about music and can tell when something’s off.  I’m really very impressed by her.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard some great songs get butchered. Are there any that you’d like to have banned from the audition room?

[The Jackson 5’s] “ABC” should not be sung by anybody and [The Temptation’s] “Get Ready.”  If I ever have to hear those two songs again—other than the originals—I may just have to jump off a bridge. Certain songs are so classic that you should leave them alone.

Read more