Kellie Pickler's new album is strong stuff

Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:10pm EST
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By Vernell Hackett

NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Country singer Kellie Pickler recorded her new album, "100 Proof," as if it would be her last.

That's a strong statement for an entertainer who has produced a string of country hits, including "Red High Heels" and a song she wrote for the mother she never knew, "I Wonder."

Pickler's new album, released on Tuesday this week, is a much more traditional recording for the singer, who said she grew up listening to and loving Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.

When Pickler came to Nashville from the small town of Albemarle, North Carolina, she expected to record the kind of music her heroes were making. Instead, she was grouped with the new generation of singers whose work was more contemporary.

She and Taylor Swift became friends and wrote together, resulting in one of her biggest hits, "The Best Days of Your Life."

But after being one of the runners-up on Fox's "American Idol" TV show in 2006 and recording two successful albums, she didn't feel she was being true to herself. Her latest album, however, is "100 proof" Pickler.

"I didn't try to please anyone but myself. I didn't think 'will radio play this?' or 'will people buy this?'" she said.

"I'm at an age and place in my life where I care, but I don't care enough to compromise who I am anymore. I'm just gonna sing and I'm gonna say what I want to say," the 25-year-old told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>Singer Kelly Pickler arrives at the BCBG Max Azria collection show at New York Fashion Week February 13, 2009. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri</p>