Miranda Lambert: Nashville's Shooting Star

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Behind the Tough-Girl Persona

She revels in her tough-girl persona, eagerly rolling up her T-shirt to show off the elaborate tattoo on her left arm: two intertwined revolvers graced by wings. It's her tour logo, designed by a friend. As she explains the symbolism, "I'm really a small-town Texas girl. I've got a good heart. I was raised right. But I also have a feisty side. I have this don't-take-any-crap attitude. The guns and wings represent both parts of my personality."

This is not shtick: She really does go for guns. Her father, Rick Lambert, who was a Dallas police officer before starting a private investigation agency with her mother, taught her about weapons at an early age. These days Lambert carries a Colt .45 revolver on the bus and in her free time she and Shelton like to hunt for deer and wild turkey.

Fiercely independent, she does not live with her fiancé -- they each own farms six miles apart in rural Oklahoma. After Shelton's divorce, in 2006, he left Nashville and moved back to his home state of Oklahoma. Lambert, still living with her parents in Texas three hours away, visited frequently, but the couple weren't ready to merge their lives. The solution? Three years ago a friend showed Lambert a 700-acre farm nearby. "I fell in love with it but I wasn't sure. I told Blake, 'If I buy this farm and move away from everything I know, are you going to screw up?' He said, 'Buy the farm.' So I did."

She likes having two separate houses -- "When Blake gets on my nerves, I can go home" -- and expects they will continue to live this way even after they get married. "We hang out at one farm or the other, depending on the night," she says, explaining that her place is decorated with "girly" things while his house features "dead animals" mounted on the walls. "It works for us."

This afternoon Lambert has scheduled a few hours to work on writing new songs. Her rough-around-the-edges Texas childhood remains an inspiration for her music. When she was 6 years old and her brother, Luke, was 2, her parents experienced hard times after their business collapsed and wiped out their savings. The couple could not pay their mortgage. "I was in first grade and we lost everything," says Lambert. "I remember every detail about it, every tear."

"All those changes at once sent her into an emotional tailspin," recalls Bev Lambert. "Miranda had always been introspective and introverted, and here she was changing schools. We didn't have anywhere to live -- we were homeless. She would cry every day."

The family left Dallas for the rural town of Lindale, where they moved in with Lambert's uncle. About a year later, once Lambert's parents got back on their feet, they rented a nearby farmhouse and became self-sufficient. "We started living off the land," says Lambert. "We had a garden, hogs we raised to slaughter, rabbits we raised for food, and my mother canned pickles and made bread. With all the things that I was exposed to, I still think I had a normal childhood because my parents were so steady."

In many ways Lambert credits her mom and dad for her success. "I started like Loretta Lynn did, with my mom driving me around Texas, looking for radio towers. Some stations would let me in the door and put me on the air. Others wouldn't. But my parents and I always worked together to get gigs."

"Now I try to repay the favor they did me in every way possible," she says. Lambert is putting her brother through college at the University of Texas in Austin, and her parents work with her part-time, running her merchandising operation. "The first new car anyone in my family ever had I bought for my parents two years ago, a Ford Expedition," she says. "I bought the first car I ever had -- a pickup truck -- over a year ago. We live within our means. I don't have a big mansion. But I have 700 acres that no one can take away from me. It's amazing to walk around my land and think, 'That?s my tree that I bought with my hard-earned money.' That's something that my dad wanted to do and he couldn't. I feel like I'm doing this for my family now."

Miranda's Favorite Things

Charity: When I moved to Oklahoma there was no dog rescue shelter nearby and there were so many stray dogs it was sad. Blake and I did two benefit concerts to raise enough money to build a local shelter.

Book: Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. I read a lot of chick lit on the road.

Food: I'm trying to learn to cook healthy things. But I like hamburger and meatloaf and mac-and-cheese, stuff I can't have if I want to stay in my jeans!

Hobby: I try to think of new things so I won't get stale. Three years ago I bought a horse and I did my first barrel race in May. You go real fast around barrels in a rodeo. I'm not real good but I'm working on it!

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, March 2011.

 

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