Miranda Lambert stopped by Country Radio Seminar, a three-day conference in Nashville, for an hour-long conversation with Cindy Watts, the Manager of Corporate Communications for artist management firm AMG.
During the talk, Lambert reflected on the first song she ever wrote, forming her high school choir, her early years in Texas, her time on Nashville Star and more.
Below, read our list of 10 things we learned from the "Bluebird" singer's Country Radio Seminar chat.
The first song she wrote was autobiographical
"The first song I wrote was when I was 14 and, get this, it was about a girl named Mandy Leigh -- my name's Miranda Leigh -- and she was going to Nashville to become a singer," Lambert said. "I remember I played it for my little brother. He was 10 at the time. He was like 'It's not very good, but you're getting there.'"
She's responsible for forming her high school choir
"I'm from a small town in Texas and it's all about football. It is Friday Night Lights. If you're not in the band -- the marching band is a huge deal there -- or an athlete, there's not really anything for you," Lambert said. "My mom and I started a petition to get a choir. I was so shy. I didn't want to talk in front of people or anything, but I went in front of the school board and explained why I thought it was important to include singers in all these high school activities that were so praised. They agreed. So the first day we had a choir, 65 kids signed up...The Lindale Choir just came and sang with me in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. They still have a choir 25 years later, which is amazing. I'm proud of that."
Her first regular paying music gig was at a Texas bar
"I sang in the youth group, so after church one day I stayed and made some secular tapes. I was singing that secular music," she joked. "I used the church sound system to record a little demo on a cassette tape. I put it in an envelop and mailed it and I got a call. I got in the contest and I got third. I was singing on a stage in a bar...and I was like 'Oh, this is what it is. There's smoke and neon.' I think that was the point where I got addicted right away. I ended up getting a house gig at that bar when I turned 17. I had the gig for four months -- three nights a week, four-hour sets. I made $200...It's where I started to realize what all this was about."
She had her own 'Coal Miner's Daughter' moment
"We have our own scene [in Texas]. We have our own chart. I actually got two songs on the Texas music chart before I was 19. My mom drove me around to all the stations in Texas...just to get some recognition. We were eating bologna sandwiches, like super Loretta Lynn style," Lambert said. "I would say 'Hey! I have a guitar, can I sing?' Most people said no, but some said yes."
She tried out for 'Nashville Star' twice
When she was just 19, Lambert impressed audiences with her performances on the 2003 season of the singing competition Nashville Star. But Lambert said she was initially reluctant to appear on the show and ended up auditioning twice (after encouragement from her mom) -- once in Dallas and once in Houston.
"I sang 'Still the One' by Shania Twain, which I love. But I didn't execute it. It was because I didn't try. I didn't want to be there. My mom got in the car and she wouldn't start the car. She was just sitting there...She was like 'You didn't give anything. I've given everything. I've driven you all over this state, spent all this gas money and you went in there and didn't try. That's not fair to me -- you're doing it again in Houston.' So she signed me up to audition in Houston," Lambert said. "I went in with a different attitude. I realized that this could catapult me into getting out of smoke-filled bars. I sang 'Crazy' a cappella and that changed the game."
But she's glad she didn't win the show
Nashville Star was a crash course in stage presence for the once-shy Lambert.
"The first episode, I was the first contestant to do the first song. I was the youngest by 10 years," Lambert said. "I did a Hank Williams song called 'Settin' the Woods on Fire.' That was when the shy girl left forever, as far as the microphone goes."
But even though she's grateful for the opportunities the show gave her, Lambert said she didn't want to win the singing competition. She was already writing her own original songs and wasn't sold on having to release a song chosen for her as a top 3 finalist.
"I didn't want the first song out of the gate for my first major label deal to be something I didn't like. So I remember praying, [thinking] I'm not going to pray not to win, but hopefully God has a plan. My parents were sitting in the front row and when they [announced] that I got third I accidentally did the 'thumbs up' on national television," Lambert said, laughing. "I knew that at that point I had been seen by enough people that if I was going to have an opportunity it was already going to be there."
'Revolution' was a turning point for her career
Lambert explained that before the release of her 2009 album Revolution, she felt she was being pigeonholed as the "sassy" firebrand from Texas. The album helped give the public a better insight into who she really was.
"Every review and interview was like 'firebrand,' 'sassy,' and 'She's a two-dollar pistol.' I thought, 'That's fine, but I also have songs like 'More Like Her' and 'Love's Looking For You.' With Revolution, two things happened: 'The House That Built Me' had been a success at that point and that started to get me where I needed to go," Lambert said. "And then I had my first number one, which was 'White Liar.' With Revolution, I realized I was connecting to people."
Dolly Parton has given her great advice
"I met Dolly just this last year. It was the first time I'd ever met her," Lambert said. "I walked in the room -- we were filming something for 'Dumplin' and she turned me around and said 'Find your good light!' That was the first thing she said to me and I thought 'That's already great advice!'"
'Dark Bars' Sums Up Everything She Loves
Lambert mentioned that "Tequila Does" is one of her favorite songs from Wildcard ("As a Texas girl singing that song, I feel like I'm 12 feet tall," she said.) But "Dark Bars," inspired by a night out in NYC, is a nod to both her past and future.
"I feel like the last gig I ever play will be just like the first gig I ever played. There'll be neon and there will be smoke and there will be beer and cowboys two-stepping. If I go out like that, I go out happy," Lambert said, laughing. "But that's a long time from now, I hope!"
'Quality, not quantity' is her motto for the next decade
"My legacy now isn't just what my music did, it's what I did. It's how many people I was good to and how many dogs I saved and how many people needed to hear 'Virginia Bluebell' at the time that it came," Lambert said. "That's how I'm going to chase this next decade -- with quality, not quantity."