Next year is a decade since Blake Shelton released his first album, and there were years of grinding it out in Nashville even before that moment arrived.
This year was seven years since Miranda Lambert first popped on the national radar in the TV contest “Nashville Star,” and while she was able to work as a developing and mid-level artist with her first two albums, it seemed as if she might never meld her critical acclaim with a similar level of commercial appreciation.
All of that changed over the last 12 months for Blake and Miranda, who got engaged in May, then became the first couple in a decade to win Male and Female Vocalist of the Year in the same evening at the Country Music Association Awards in November.
Blake and Miranda’s arrival as country’s “it” couple makes them the No. 3 entry as GAC counts down the one dozen biggest stories in country music from 2010.
Their relationship also played a role in one of the year’s biggest hits. Blake had already asked a publishing company to put a song “on hold” for him to record, and when they were driving home from the airport, he played a CD of demos that had been pitched to him. When that song caused Miranda to cry, over and over again, he decided to give the song to her instead. Even though, as his producer predicted, it was likely to win Song of the Year.
The song, of course, was “The House That Built Me,” and it did indeed win Song of the Year at the CMAs. It also got nominated for the all-genre Song of the Year and Best Country Song at the Grammy Awards, and it’s likely to win the Song honor at next year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, too. For Blake to give it up says much about his feelings for Miranda.
It’s not like things didn’t work for him without “House.” He shared a No. 1 single with Trace Adkins for “Hillbilly Bone” and nabbed another with “All About Tonight.” And his record label made him a symbol for change within the music business when it released a couple of albums that featured only six songs, meaning he could put out new product faster. On top of that, he put out a greatest-hits package, Loaded: The Best Of Blake Shelton, in November.
Miranda, meanwhile, had her first headlining tour and took home a total of three honors from the CMAs, including Album of the Year for Revolution. And she joined Loretta Lynn and Sheryl Crow to sing the title track of Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute To Loretta Lynn.
When the renovated Grand Ole Opry House featured images of Miranda and Blake in a duet-themed dressing room, that pretty much iced it for her — she really has arrived.
“I saw that and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m here!’” she notes. “It’s those little things more than anything that make me realize it.”
The last couple to win Male and Female Vocalist of the Year? Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in 2000. If things work out for Blake and Miranda the way they did for Tim and Faith — well, you can see why Miranda’s still in shock.