Kellie Pickler: “I’m Glad I Stood Up For Myself.”

kellie-picklerWhen we talk about artists who could help save country music, we tend to focus on folks who are on the outside looking into the music industry, but traditionally these are not always the performers in the best position to shake things up. The Outlaws like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings already had established careers when they decided to start making waves on Music Row, putting them in a better position to stimulate change compared to an unproven artist.

Just from reading her resume, Kellie Pickler might look like a country traditionalist’s worst nightmare. She started in beauty pageants, got her musical break on American Idol, and is the reigning champion of another reality show, Dancing With The Stars. But instead of disqualifying her from being able to help save country music, maybe this all makes her the ideal candidate. Kellie can create her own hype, and generate her own publicity as opposed to having to make songs for country radio or pander to formulated marketing campaigns.

Still, the most important element is the music, and when it came to the music on Kellie Pickler’s last album 100 Proof, it spoke to heavy traditional country and honky tonk influences served with very little sanding of the rough edges. This is the reason it was awarded Saving Country Music’s 2012 Album of the Year.

And to save country music, you must be willing to speak up and speak out, and once again when being interviewed recently by Rolling Stone (who also called Kellie’s 100 Proof one of 2012’s best), Pickler had some insightful and inspiring words about what motivates her to make “Kellie Country.”

“I’ve made records where I’m trying to make everybody else happy and say what other people want me to say. That was miserable. If you go in and you’re honest, people will either like you or not. You can’t please them all, so you might as well be happy with it yourself. It’s your face on the cover. You can’t change who you are to please other people.”

“I didn’t sell a lot of records with [100 Proof], but it’s my favorite album I’ve ever done because I went into the studio and said what I wanted to say and made a more traditional record. Had I gone in and made the same old shit, then Rolling Stone and different music critics wouldn’t have picked it as one of the best albums of 2012. That showed me that I made the right call. It was tough, but I’m glad I stood up for myself.”

And by standing up for herself, Kellie Pickler stood up for the integrity of country music.