“She’s got a reputation as a tough chick. She is a tough chick,” says Rick Lambert of daughter Miranda in Backstory: Miranda Lambert, premiering Saturday, January 19, 8:00 p.m./Eastern on Great American Country (GAC). Miranda’s private investigator parents, husband Blake Shelton, closest childhood friend, pals Dierks Bentley and Allison Moorer, manager, producer, longtime booking agent and record company presidents past and present share stories about the tough yet tender multi-platinum artist and songwriter.
Her parents’ successful Dallas-based PI business took a direct hit after the Texas oil boom economy went bust. The family lost everything and not being able to provide for his family was a crushing blow to Rick Lambert. “The pressure of having been able to do that and then all the sudden you’re virtually homeless and your business has gone kaput and you don’t have a house for your kids to live in,” he says. “It was very traumatic to me.”
Eventually they were able to build their business back up, moving from a ramshackle rental house to a permanent home. But the experience taught Miranda life lessons she carries with her today and added a depth of emotion that powered her No. 1 smash hit, “The House That Built Me.”
When Miranda was a teenager her family worked with their church to shelter abused women in their home. “It was real eye-opening,” she recalls. “I was at that age (15) when you’re kind of vulnerable to situations anyway and seeing my friend’s mom with a black eye was, like, ‘Oh, this is real,’ because I was kind of sheltered. I saw it all and I absorbed it, that’s what songwriters do.”
At 19, Miranda found herself learning the ropes of the primarily male-dominated Texas club circuit with her band, The Texas Pride Band. When the Nashville Star talent competition was announced, her mother Bev Lambert saw it as a huge opportunity for her daughter and told her, “This show could make or break you or you can keep playing bars the rest of your life.” Miranda maintained her place on Nashville Star through the entire season, finishing third in the competition. “I learned a lot,” she said. “It really was like freshman year in college.”
Four albums into her career, Miranda’s won three ACM and one CMA Album of the Year awards and is the reigning and three-time CMA and ACM Female Vocalist of the Year. While 2011 was a highlight year in her life with her marriage to Blake Shelton and the release of the first Pistol Annies (a trio she created with two friends) LP, it was also filled with personal challenges. “It was like everything you could throw at us like cannonballs,” she says of the death of Blake’s father as well as the passing of one of her closest friends. “You picture newlywed bliss and really it was him living in LA, me on the road and us in the hospital a lot of the time. It was just a lot to deal with. It seemed that when that one-year anniversary hit, we could almost go ‘Phew, okay, now we’re ready.’”
“I give all the credit to Miranda,” says Blake. “She’ll get on a plane to spend one night with me on the opposite coast of where she’s got to be the next day. She always makes it happen, thank God, because it really does recharge me and it saves my life when I see her.”
The fiery Miranda continues to push the boundaries of her art, finding her voice through songwriting, headline tours, her work with the Pistol Annies and her animal advocacy work. “I always go with my gut,” she says. “It’s never steered me wrong.” Pal and tour mate Dierks Bentley sums it all up, “She’s inspiring for a lot of girls out there to be tough, stand your ground, say what you want to say.”