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INTERVIEW: Kellie Pickler

Kellie Pickler is living her dream. She's a rising country star, she's opening for BFF Taylor Swift on her Fearless tour and both of her CD's made number one on the country charts! But Kellie's no average 'Small Town Girl'. She has worked hard to overcome her difficult childhood and become the 'Idol' she is today. Get all the facts on this bubbly, blonde country cutie!

Kellie Pickler

Full Name: Kellie Dawn Pickler
Hometown: Albemarle, North Carolina
Birthday: June 28th, 1986
Height: 5'1
Unusual Pet: Kellie owned a tiny Marmoset Monkey named Ella
Favorite Candy: Sour Patch Kids and Gummi Bears
Personal Goal: To Live A Long Happy Life
Heroes: Her Grandma and Grandpa
Secret Talents: Dancing, Gymnastics and Shoe Shopping
Surprising Fact: Kellie won the 2004 Miss Stanley County beauty pageant and competed to become Miss North Carolina

A Challenging Childhood
Life was not always so picture perfect for Kellie Pickler. Growing up in Albemarle, North Carolina, Kellie and her little brother Eric were raised by their grandparents, who Kellie calls her heroes.

Kellie's mom was out the picture for most of Kellie's childhood. "My mother left me when I was 2 years old which is devastating to a child because you wonder why in the heck your mother won't have anything to do with you." says Kellie. A few years later, her mom came back and regained custody for two years until Kellie was returned to her grandparents at age 12. "She got custody of me for two years, during that time, she was physically and mentally abusive of me" Kellie says.

Kellie wrote a song for her mom called "I Wonder" on her debut album, "Small Town Girl". "This song has not only helped me, writing it, performing it every night has been kind of like therapy for me but I think it's really helped a lot of people who might be going through similar circumstances," says Kellie.

Kellie's dad was not a positive force in Kellie's life either. "My father has been in and out of prison pretty much my whole life...he's a drug user." Kellie's dad was sent to Florida State Prison for 3 years and 9 months for aggravated assault and battery following a stabbing incident in 2003. He was released in 2006.

Today, Kellie is not close with either of her parents and says she is not ready to forgive them for all the pain they have caused her. "If she wants to give me any peace at all then she will stay away from me and not hurt me anymore than what she has. Just leave me alone," says Kellie of her mom.

Pick Pickler!
In the fall of 2005, Kellie's life changed for the better when she auditioned for "American Idol" in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Her southern charm and sweet vocal talent impressed the judges and they sent her straight through to Hollywood.

Even tough judge Simon Cowel was taken with Kellie. At her audition, Simon said "I think you're terrific! I really do like you." Simon predicted Kellie would make it to the top three and even said he preferred her over season four winner Carrie Underwood! Wow, way to go Kellie!

Kellie breezed through Hollywood week and made it to the live show where she quickly became a fan favorite. Every week, fans would come to the show with signs and chant, 'Pick Pickler!', Kellie's rallying cry on the show. When asked who she would thank if she won, Kellie replied "God, Grandma, Grandpa, family, friends and American Idol!"

Kellie ended up coming in 6th place. "I have nothing to go home for" she said upon being voted off and with that she headed off to Nashville, landed a recording contract with BNA Records and started her singing career.

Success After 'Idol'
In October 2006, Kellie released her debut album, "Small Town Girl". It sold over 79,000 copies its first week, shot up to #1 on the country charts and went gold three months after its release.

"Small Town Girl" also earned her a CMT award nomination, 'Best Breakthrough Artist Video' for her spunky hit, "Red High Heels" and a CMA award nomination for 'Top New Female Vocalist'.

Then it was back to the studio for Kellie. Her second album, "Kellie Pickler", was released in September 2008 and once again, shot straight up to #1 on the country charts! "There isn't a single song on this record that I didn't live, that I didn't love. The hardest part was narrowing it down. The whole record is balanced—there's heartbreak, revenge, in love and happy, empowerment, and sassy songs. This record is an update of where I've been, emotionally, mentally and physically, in the two years since my first album." says Kellie of her second hit album.

In April 2009, Kellie went on the road as the opening act for Taylor Swift's Fearless tour. "It's always fun to be on tour and be with the fans, and to be out with Taylor, who is like a sister to me, is really awesome." says Kellie. An even bigger treat for fans - on June 28th 2009 Kellie kicked off her own headlining tour!

Kellie Pickler is one strong and talented girl. She has worked hard and has given 110% to go from being a small town waitress from a broken family to being an accomplished and happy country star. Kellie, we hope you continue to have 'The Best Days of Your Life'! You deserve them!

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