Saturday, December 24, 2011

#75 Kellie Pickler

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown, which ends by the time American Idol season 11's live shows begin, is country star Kellie Pickler. She came to fame when she took sixth place on American Idol season 5. Right after her stint on American Idol, she was signed to 19 Recordings Ltd. and BNA Records, releasing her debut album Small Town Girl, which has sold over 800,000 copies to date, later in 2006. The album was RIAA certified gold and produced three singles on the Billboard Hot Country chart: "Red High Heels" at #15, "I Wonder" at #14, and "Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind" at #16. She released her self-titled sophomore album in 2008 and has produced the singles "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" at #21, "Best Days of Your Life" at #9 (which she co-wrote with country po superstar Taylor Swift), "Didn't You Know How Much I Love You" at #14, and "Makin' Me Fall in Love Again" at #30.  On May 30, 2010, she was ranked the number 7 American Idol alumna.

Kellie Dawn Pickler was born on June 28, 1986, at Stanly Memorial Hospital in Albemarle, North Carolina, a small town near Charlotte, to Cynthia Morton and Clyde "Bo" Raymond Pickler, Jr. Her mother left when Kellie was two years old. She returned and got custody for two years, but the court returned Kellie to her grandparents when she was 12, as her father was in and out of jail during her childhood. Therefore, Kellie was raised by her grandparents.  She cites the major influences in her life as her paternal grandfather, a former electrician Clyde Raymond Pickler, Sr., and her paternal grandmother Faye Pickler. She was raised in her birthtown. She has a half brother named Eric, a half sister, Courtney, and a half brother, Michael, whom she has never met. After her grandmother died of lung cancer in January 2002, she continued to reside with her grandfather and her younger sibling Eric until her stint on American Idol. Pickler graduated in 2004 from North Stanly High School in North London, North Carolina. During her time at the high school, she was a cheerleader and beauty queen. She performed "On the Side of Angels" by LeAnn Rimes during her high school graduation ceremony.

Before her stint on American Idol, Pickler worked as a waitress at a Sonic Drive-In restaurant and in 2005, she appeared on WSOC-TV's Gimme the Mike! Charlotte contest and landed in second place. She participated in the Miss America circuit and won the "Miss Stanly County" pageant at age 17 and subsequently competed for Miss North America in 2004. She dropped out of the pageant and focused on paralegal studies.

At the age of 19, Pickler auditioned for American Idol season 5 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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