Twenty years ago, Texans knew that Miranda Lambert was the queen of country music. It didn’t take long before the rest of the world knew it, too.
With ten studio albums under her belt and dozens of awards, the 2022 ACM Triple Crown Award winner is now performing the ultimate gig: Las Vegas. Miranda Lambert’s Velvet Rodeo The Las Vegas Residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino kicked off the first of 24 shows on September 23, 2022, and runs through 2023.
“It has been a really cool journey putting together this show. It’s something very different from touring and very creative. I loved getting to do more production than we ever have on the road,” Miranda recently told BUDDY.
The journey from Lindale, Texas to Vegas has taken Miranda all over the world and landed her as one of the most awarded country music artists in history. The 2022 ACM Entertainer of the Year has achieved much more than the young lady from Lindale could foresee.
In a 2005 interview with BUDDY, 21-year-old Miranda said “No matter what I’m singing, I want to say something that makes people think. I want people to hear my songs and feel something. I want to be appreciated as someone whose music is real. I want to be thought of as a true artist, not just as an ‘entertainer.’”
As the most decorated artist in the history of the Academy of Country Music, Lambert has earned 37 ACM Awards including the current ACM Entertainer of the Year title and a record-setting nine consecutive Female Artist of the Year Awards, 14 CMA Awards, three GRAMMY Awards, the Nashville Symphony Harmony Award, ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award and ACM Song of the Decade Award.
It all started when her dad, Rick Lambert, gave 14-year-old Miranda a guitar and she started practicing four hours a day. Rick – at the time, an undercover Dallas narcotics officer – played on the weekends with his group “Contraband,” and his daughter often came along on gigs to sing with them.
Soon she had a band of her own, called “Texas Pride,” and was singing her own songs. Parents Rick and Bev recorded her 2001 self-titled CD and bought an old camper to travel in while promoting it.
Miranda moved to Nashville in 2002 and was on the Nashville Star TV competition, where she placed third out of 8,000 contestants. Shortly after signing a contract in 2003 with Sony, she started working on her first studio CD Kerosene.
“I always say that Nashville Star saved me from five more years in the honky-tonks. But I was still scared to death to sign that recording contract,” Miranda told BUDDY in 2005.
Since that first release, Miranda’s fans have tracked her moods by the songs she writes. Through the years, her loves, losses and rebounds have told her tale, seemingly with her finger on the pulse of the world. Even if you know nothing about the lady, she has at least one song you can relate to.
From the raunchy, no punches pulled, forceful drive of Kerosene, to the woeful, heartbreaking Tin Man, Miranda Lambert’s songs say something. Indeed, she has achieved her original goal of making listeners “feel something.”
Sometimes those feelings aren’t conventional sentiments – sometimes they are awkward and – well, human. Songs like Ugly Lights and Vice that speak about “the Monday morning walk of shame” and “some place where my past can’t run me down,” give women permission to be unapologetically flawed – and they love her for it.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut the live entertainment industry down, Miranda took advantage of that time to rest, write and enjoy life. After years of constant touring, crisscrossing the nation – starting in 2006 opening for Dierks Bentley – she deserved the time off.
“I have learned balance in my life finally. Taking time to live and experience things instead of working non-stop is so important,” Miranda said. “I do think 2020 helped with that lesson for sure”.
Miranda’s fan club, called “Ran Fans,” have noticed a happy lilt in her music since marrying Brendon McLoughlin in 2019 and becoming a stepmother to his young son. Wildcard, released the same year, includes the song Settling Up; the accompanying video features the happy couple together.
The happiness continued with 2021’s The Marfa Tapes, which features only Miranda, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. The album Palomino, released in April 2022 has all the familiar feels that Miranda’s music invokes – sentimental, happy, sad, funky and spunky (the single Geraldine is a pleasant earworm).
“I think I am a little of each song on Palomino right now,” Miranda remarked. “I spent a month on the road this summer with my husband traveling in our Airstream and got to live out some of the adventures we wrote about on the record.”
That extended Airstream vacation was spent with Miranda’s backup singer, Gwen Sabastian. “She and her husband Louis (Newman), who is also a musician, are so easy to be around and it helps that we have the same schedule most of the time,” Miranda said. “We both took the Airstreams out west this summer and had a blast wandering around together.”
Gwen has been singing with Miranda for a decade, so it’s no wonder the two are comfortable with each other’s company on and off the road. “…we are the only two girls in the band, so we are pretty much inseparable,” Miranda explained. “It’s fun to have a gal pal out on the road to go do things with, and also during our off time we still spend a lot of time together.”
Miranda is tight with every member of her team – from the band to her wardrobe and hair stylists. Every decision is discussed in advance. Right before the live 2017 ACM Awards show, Miranda felt that she should perform alone, even though her band was backstage ready to go on; the team echoed her feeling, and the result was the flawless acoustic performance of Tin Man to a silent, packed room.
“I am very lucky to have the team I have around me. I have had the same manager, Marion Kraft, since I was 19 and we built this thing together. I have also had the same business managers, Duane Clark and Joel Shideler, and my booking agent, Joey Lee, since I was 19. It has definitely been a group effort to build this career. My publicists, Ebie McFarland and Janet Buck, are newer team members, but they fit right in and round out the perfect team. I have an amazing road family as well that keeps the show on the road,” Miranda said.
“My manager and I have great communication when it comes to big career decisions – and also personal ones – so I think that is key for any team: to listen to each other and make the best judgment call for the situation, like singing “Tin Man” last minute because it was the right thing to do. I’m glad we talked it out beforehand and all felt good about it,” she added.
Managing the world of Miranda Lambert does truly take a whole team; besides her own music, she is a member of the trio Pistol Annies. She also has her own clothing line, boots, The Pink Pistol Boutique in Lindale, and a winery (Rick and Bev run the store and Red55Winery, also in Lindale).
In 2015, Certified Roses, Inc. named a pink hybrid tea rose after Miranda and pledged a percentage of sales to her MuttNation Foundation, a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit. The honor is usually given to members of royalty or other dignitaries.
To be counted among the likes of Queen Elizabeth and Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis, is, Miranda says, “pretty dang cool. Being from East Texas (Tyler is the Rose Capital), roses have always been a part of our household. I love that MuttNation Foundation can benefit from something else that makes people happy. And pink is my favorite color, so it’s fitting.”
Another big boost to the Foundation will be the $1.00 per ticket that Planet Hollywood is donating back to the nonprofit that Miranda and Bev founded in 2009 to ensure that as many dogs as possible could have a safe and happy place to call home.
“I’m just very happy that the platform I have can be used for something as near and dear to my heart as shelter animals, and that I can be an advocate for them,” Miranda remarked, adding a list of her furbabies. “We currently have five rescue dogs, three cats, six horses, two mini horses, and two goats.”
While she makes her home in Tennessee these days, she visits her hometown of Lindale a few times a year. “My favorite thing to do is hang in my mom’s backyard and see old friends,” Miranda said. “I also love Petty’s restaurant. It’s a meat and three and it tastes like home.”
For the Ran Fans who can’t make it to Las Vegas to see their girl in concert, Miranda has encouraging words. “I think I will always tour to some degree, so yes we will be back roaming after the Velvet Rodeo residency ends, but I’m happy to be in Vegas for now.”