From stealing the nation’s hearts when was just 19 and on “American Idol” to the release of her fourth album, “The Woman I Am,” 27-year-old Kellie Pickler has been a wildly successful award winner for singing, songwriting, beauty as well as being the reigning champion of “Dancing With The Stars.” And the “Small Town Girl” from North Carolina has done it all with humility, humor and a confidence that comes with great talent. Pickler performs at Lake Tahoe on Feb. 15 in the intimate South Shore Room. Can such a big star really be so down to earth? Yes. When we sent in an interview request, she called us right back. Here are highlights from her conversation with Tahoe Onstage.
Kellie: We are exciting about being on the road this year and we have a new album we just released in November. It’s a whole new show, so it’s exciting.
Tahoe Onstage: It looks like you are having a great time.
Kellie: I am so blessed. I get to do what I enjoy and I love what I do.
Tahoe Onstage: You are so successful at everything you try. Will singing always be your priority?
Kellie: If you look at my calendar you will see that’s my No. 1 priority. I am always on the road and I am always doing shows all year. If a window of opportunity comes along that makes sense for me that we can do for a short time that is right for me, like ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ then I’ll do it. But I was recording and touring the whole time that I was on the show. It’s always been on the front burner.
Tahoe Onstage: With the heavy touring schedule, how is your voice holding up?
Kellie: Singing properly makes a big difference but after you do something for so long I think your voice kind of builds up a tolerance. Kind of like weightlifting, your muscles get stronger and it becomes easier, a more natural thing. The more you do anything, hopefully the better you get at it.
Tahoe Onstage: You will perform at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe’s South Shore Room, where Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. played. The capacity is only about 700, so this might be one of the smaller venues where you will sing.
Kellie: I love doing those intimate settings. It breaks things up and makes it a more personal setting.
Tahoe Onstage: How did your experience with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ help you as a performer?
Kellie: Stage presence, I guess, it could help. The more you do anything, like I said, you get a little better and stronger in what you are doing.
Tahoe Onstage: Your career has ascended so rapidly. What have you learned along the way?
Kellie: I’ve been able to travel and meet so many people and different kinds of people from all over the world. You get to learn about other people’s cultures and beliefs and you have a greater understanding for people. It makes you more open. In everything that I’ve been able to do, I think the traveling part and the people that I’ve met along the way have definitely been some of the greatest moments. Even the USO tours I have learned so much. I am surprised I have been able to see as much as I have seen in such a short amount of time. I definitely consider that a big blessing.
Tahoe Onstage: After Lake Tahoe, it’s on to Australia. Have you ever been “Down Under?”
Kellie: No I have not. I am looking forward to that trip. It’s going to be my first time. And the guys in my band are excited. It’s going to be their first time as well.
Tahoe Onstage: Do you set goals for yourself?
Kellie: There’s always room for improvement, ways to get better. There are a lot of things I haven’t done personally and professionally that I want to do. I think everyone needs to set their own goals and set the bar high for their self.
Tahoe Onstage: I think a factor in your success is that you have a rare combination of tremendous confidence and humility.
Kellie: Thank you. I think everybody has their own insecurities. We all should feel confident in something we are proud of, but everyone has insecurities. Everyone at times struggles with their self-esteem and confidence and how they see their selves. Sometimes we can be a little too hard on ourselves. I know I am at times. I definitely have insecurities like anybody.
Tahoe Onstage: How do you overcome that?
Kellie: I try to smile. Sometimes you can hide nervousness behind a smile.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15
Where: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room
Tickets: Sold out