Miranda Lambert Launched Her Career on ‘Nashville Star’ Before Winning 3 Grammys

Several country music artists got their big breaks from singing competition shows. Stars like Kelly Clarkson, Lauren Alaina, and Carrie Underwood went mainstream after participating in American Idol. While several of these competition shows cover a more general scope, one particular one focused more on helping country music hopefuls break even. Nashville Star brought rise to many country singers and helped Miranda Lambert launch her career before winning 3 Grammys.

Miranda Lambert performing on stage
Miranda Lambert | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TIME

‘Nashville Star’ aired for six seasons

Nashville Star is a singing competition show that aired from 2003 to 2008 for six seasons. The first five seasons aired on the network, making the show the longest-running competition series to have aired on cable TV at the time. The final season aired on NBC.

The show’s format was similar to American Idol in that the participants had to sing to impress the judges. At the end of their performance, they would receive praise or criticism from judges. At the end of an episode, voting became public, and audiences cast votes by calling a toll-free number.

Viewers could also vote for their favorite contestants on the show’s official website. Texting became a voting option in the show’s last run. Any performer who received the least amount of votes would get eliminated.

Unlike American Idol, Nashville Star restricted performances to the country music genre. Additionally, judges didn’t take part in the preliminary auditions like Idol. Instead, the auditioning task was left to the producers. When the show moved to NBC, the judges were given more control and allowed to narrow the field from 50 participants to 12.

The judges acted as mentors to the participants, much like what we see in The Voice. Another contrast between Idol and Nashville Star was that while Idol mainly prefers to take contestants who don’t have any experience in the industry, Nashville Star allowed contestants who were involved in the country music industry to participate. A good example is Whitney Duncan, who had already worked with industry legend Kenny Rogers before auditioning.

Miranda Lambert didn’t win ‘Nashville Star’ but became one

Lambert got introduced to the world in 2003 when she appeared in the singing competition series for its inaugural season. Lambert was only 19 when she appeared on the show, and that’s when her life changed. She wowed the audience and the judges with her powerful vocals and songwriting skills.

She performed a song she wrote with her father titled “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere.” The singer was a powerhouse on the show, but two other contestants edged her out. Lambert placed third behind John Arthur Martinez and Buddy Jewell, who won.

However, her talent was enough to catch the attention of one of the judges on the panel. Tracy Gershon, a Sony Music Executive, noticed Lambert’s talent and potential and convinced the label to sign the budding artist with the deal going through on September 15, 2003.

Miranda Lambert is a three-time Grammy winner

After her deal with Epic Records, Lambert began working on her debut album, Kerosene. The album contained 12 tracks and was released to critical acclaim. The album peaked on the Billboard Top Country Albums charts and produced four Top 40s.

Lambert followed the first album with a second one called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend which produced the singer’s highest-charting single, “Gunpowder & Lead.” Lambert has since released seven solo albums, including her emotionally charged album The Weight of These Wings, which dropped post-divorce from Blake Shelton.

Lambert’s talent hasn’t gone unnoticed as she has a heavily decorated career. The singer has several awards and nominations. Lambert has won three Grammy Awards and 23 Grammy nominations.

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