Despite being eliminated, Kellie signed a recording contract with the record
company BNA Records, a country label owned by RCA Records and Sony BMG Music
Entertainment in conjunction with Idol series creator Simon Fuller's 19
Recordings Limited. Her debut single, "Red High Heels" was released on September
25, 2006 and the debut album followed on October 31 of the same year.
20th Century Fox and 19 Television are currently developing a thirty-minute situation comedy starring Kellie as a naïve small-town Southern woman who unravels the mystery that her biological father is the state's governor.
Kellie was born at the Stanly Memorial Hospital in Albemarle, North Carolina to Cynthia Morton and Clyde "Bo" Pickler, Jr. Kellie Pickler was raised in Palestine, a small town near Albemarle.
Kellie Pickler's mother was 18 years old when she gave birth to her, and relinquished custodial rights to Pickler when she was two years of age. Kellie Pickler's parents separated on June 29, 1988, and after being charged for writing bad checks and then convicted in 1988 for drug prescription forgery, her mother disappeared from her life a year later in 1989.
In 1992, Morton returned to Albemarle but did not make contact with her daughter until March 1995 when Bo was convicted of armed robbery. Morton was granted custody of Kellie but was abusive. After a court filing in 1997, the child's paternal grandparents became her legal guardians. Morton, who was a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, is known to have lived in the states of California, Louisiana, and Colorado, and has once held a job in Alexandria, Virginia, but as of February 2007 she is officially missing.
Kellie Pickler's father, described by Kellie as having had a continuously cyclical problem with drugs and alcohol, recently served a three-year, nine-month prison sentence at Florida State Prison for aggravated assault and battery stemming from a 2003 stabbing incident. He was released on May 6, 2006, a week after his daughter was eliminated from American Idol.
Kellie was raised by her grandfather, Clyde Pickler Sr., who worked as an electrician, and her grandmother, Faye Pickler, until her grandmother's death in January 2002. She continued to reside with her grandfather and her younger sibling Eric until she became a contestant on Idol. She graduated in 2004 from North Stanly High School in New London, NC. Kellie Pickler was a cheerleader and dancer, and sang "On the Side of Angels" (LeAnn Rimes) at her graduation commencement from North Stanly in 2004.
Kellie Pickler has worked as a waitress at a Sonic Drive In franchise, and in 2005, she made an appearance on WSOC-TV's Gimme the Mike! contest, finishing in second place. Kellie Pickler participated in the Miss America circuit, and won the "Miss Stanly County" pageant at age 17 and subsequently competed for Miss North Carolina 2004 in order to win a scholarship to Stanly Community College's School of Cosmetology to reach her full potential. Dissatisfied with the cosmetology program, she dropped out and earned her associate's degree in paralegal studies instead.
The 19-year-old Kellie auditioned for American Idol in the fall of 2005 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Kellie Pickler sang both Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and Martina McBride's "A Broken Wing". The judges unanimously sent her to Hollywood. Pickler advanced through the semi-finalist rounds in February. On March 9, she reached the Top 12.
Pickler was among one of judge Simon Cowell's favorites. Simon once predicted Kellie would be in the final three, and said he preferred her personality over the previous season's winner, Carrie Underwood. Recognized for her "quirky" personality and Southern charm, Pickler gained attention on the show by saying (for example) that she had hardly ever performed before real audiences, pronouncing "salmon" as "sal-mon", "calamari" as "cali-mar-y", and confusing "minx" with "mink." Kellie Pickler also amused many people with her false eyelash incident, saying that it felt as if there were "tarantulas on her eyes". Kellie Pickler was compared to Jessica Simpson in a March 27 story in US Weekly magazine entitled "Kellie: The Next Jessica Simpson", due to her "sweet Southern style and ditzy demeanor. Later in a J-14 article, she responded to the comparison by saying "Vocally, Jessica's great, and she's beautiful."
Various Internet weblogs alleged that she was merely putting on an act in order to win votes. Host Ryan Seacrest asked Kellie about the allegations during the April 4 broadcast, and she denied the claims. It was also revealed on the Ryan Seacrest radio show that it was he who started some of the rumors by mentioning during the competition that Jessica and Kellie would make a great couple. On April 19, Pickler and contestant Taylor Hicks became the only contestants among the rest of the Top 6 to never be in the bottom 3. That changed on April 26 when she was in the bottom 2 and then eliminated. Due to time constraints, her exit performance was not aired on the show, which happened to be the first time this occurred in American Idol history. Her exit performance was later shown when she appeared on Extra.
Kellie returned in the finale to sing several songs with the other finalists; she was also featured in a pre-taped segment called "Puck 'n Pickler", in which she was introduced to some unusual food by chef Wolfgang Puck for the show's comic relief. In the segment, viewers learned that Pickler does not fancy going near live sea animals.
After Kellie Pickler's elimination in American Idol Season 5 at 6th place,
she went on to appear in numerous shows promoting American Idol. She also talked
about her elimination and future plans. She performed "Walking After Midnight"
in some of her appearances. On May 6, 2006 Pickler returned to her hometown of
Albemarle, North Carolina for a parade and a reunion with her father. She
received a key to the city from the mayor of Albemarle. The mayor also
proclaimed May 6, 2006 as Kellie Pickler Day. Pickler also received numerous
awards from local and statewide government officials praising her
accomplishments as a contestant on the American Idol television show. Her
involvement with the top-rated Fox show (24-30 million viewers weekly) has
brought economic growth to the area of Albemarle.
Kellie pursued her recording aspirations in Nashville, Tennessee shortly thereafter. On July 17, 2006 she signed a record deal with 19 Recordings/BNA Records. She later announced it herself on The View. She was part of the American Idol Pop Tarts tour ensemble, performing for three months in various cities. During that period, Kellie worked on her album in collaboration with top industry experts in different cities wherever the tour took her.
In the days leading up to her debut album release on Halloween 2006, Kellie Pickler appeared in various publicity engagements; singing the Star-Spangled Banner for the NASCAR Race in Concord, North Carolina, appeared in Great American Country Top 20 Countdown, CMT Insider, and CNN Showbiz Sitdown. Performed live in The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The View, and was guest in various radio shows across the USA.
Kellie Pickler performed for the first time at The Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville - she will go back on December 7, 2006 for a return engagement. Kellie was involved in a very successful fundraiser for children's hospital in North Carolina. Kellie was featured for the first time in People Magazine and US Weekly magazine in which she shared more about her tumultuous childhood brought about by troubled parents. Kellie Pickler participated in major music events like the ASCAP and CMA. She reprised her role as red carpet correspondent for CMT on the 2006 Country Music Awards, and co-presented an award for fellow American Idol alumna, Carrie Underwood. Her publicity continues on the airwaves performing live on various radio stations (98.7 WMZQ, 99.5 the wolf, 99.5 Live Country, 97.3 Eagle,96.3 KSCS) and participating in interviews. She's also featured in prominent websites like Country Music Television website, USA TODAY online, and others.
Kellie said she is neither naive nor stupid but admits she does not know a lot of things, being brought up in a small town, and that she is still learning. She considers herself smart and thinks of herself as a businesswoman.
Kellie Pickler's latest career development was the announcement of her sitcom under development by Fox Network and 19 Entertainment.
On December 14, 2006, the Stanly News & Press reported in its lead story that criminal fanatics steal Kellie Pickler signs in Albemarle.
Kellie performed live on December 16, 2006 at the culmination of the charity event that was sponsored by CMT One Country and COX Communications to refurbished the NFL YET Boys & Girls Club of New Orleans which was damaged due to the Hurricane Katrina.
Kellie finally met her personal 'Idol' country music star Dolly Parton on February 26, 2007. The surprise meeting was arranged by Sony BMG Nashville Chairman Joe Galante.
Kellie is featured on Country Weekly's March 26, 2007 issue for its "Spring Fashion Spectacular." It includes up to eight fashion styles including four full page prints and a centerfold.
Kellie appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on June 7, 2006 as a guest correspondent on the red carpet at the 2006 "MTV Movie Awards". There she encountered Sandra Bullock who suggested that Pickler do comedy, which she proceeded to do with her version of The Matrix for Keanu Reeves. Kellie also had encounters with Will Ferrell, Zach Braff, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and was interviewed by Steve Carell. Kellie Pickler reprised this role on December 14, 2006 in her segment titled "A Very Pickler Christmas" where she was tasked to find the perfect Christmas gift for Jay Leno. Along the way she met New York city folk including celebrities like Al Roker, Lionel Richie and Taylor Hicks. Kellie Pickler tasted her first rambutan fruit, checked out live crabs in Chinatown, asked local folks for suggestions on what to give Jay, rode the NY Subway for the first time, and even tried to speak Mandarin and Italian including the famous New York greet "How ya doin'?" In the end she decided to give Jay a box of pizza.
Kellie co-hosted the 2006 CMA Red Carpet for CMT together with Lance Smith and Katie Cook on November 6, 2006.
Kellie will be starring in her own half-hour sitcom being developed by 20th Century Fox and 19 Entertainment, Watson Pond's Brad Johnson, and 19's Simon Fuller and Malcolm Young. Pickler will play a naive small-town Southern woman (a character loosely based on herself) who discovers that her biological father is the state's governor. Chris Peterson and Byran Moore (That '70s Show) will write and create the project.
Kellie took the role as host once again and this time by herself for Country Music Television's "Video Of The Year Special" featuring the nominees for the upcoming "07 CMT Music Awards" where she is also nominated for "Breakthrough Video Of The Year" for her debut single "Red High Heels."
Kellie is putting her newfound fame to good use by getting involved in various charitable causes. She performend live for various organizations to help raise funds and made personal visits to young kids. Kellie Pickler performed live to help raise funds for the N.C. Children's PROMISE to benefit the Children's Hospital in Nov. 12, 2006, performed live to help refurbish the Hurricane Katrina damaged NFL Youth Education Towns Boys & Girls Club of New Orleans on December 16, 2006, visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on January 12, 2007, the children's hospital has become her organization of choice, and recently visited Pennington Elementary School in February 1, 2007 where she read to the kids Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree and later answered questions. “When you’re able to give back to your communities and organizations like St. Jude, it’s a great thing,” Pickler said. “It’s been a great experience, and I encourage anyone and everyone to help.”
Kellie's debut album, Small Town Girl was released on October 31, 2006 by BNA Records, and the first single, "Red High Heels", debuted on September 13, 2006. The album includes five songs that Pickler co-wrote with producer Blake Chancey including Chris Lindsey, Aimee Mayo and Karyn Rochelle. Kellie is signed with 19 Entertainment in conjunction with BNA Records, a Sony BMG Music Entertainment record label.
Kellie's "Red High Heels" music video was officially released to the public on October 20, 2006. Kellie Pickler's older sister appeared in the video alongside her in the scene where she is driving in the car with friends.
Her debut album landed at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 and topped the Country Album Chart selling 79,000 copies in its first week. On January 18th, 2007, Kellie co-hosted The View and was presented with a gold record by Rosie O'Donnell, certifying that her album has gone gold.
Kellie's music video for "Red High Heels" reached #1 on GAC Top 20 Countdown on February 9th. It received a nomination for the CMT Video Awards for "Best Breakthrough Artist Video".
Pickler will take part in Brad Paisley's "Bonfires & Amplifiers" concert tour starting late April through August as one of the opening acts. The tour is booked in 37 cities in the US including one stop in Canada.
Pickler performed her single "I Wonder" on Season 6 of American Idol on March 1, 2007.
Kellie has been nominated for "Top New Female Vocalist" for the 42nd Academy of Country Music (R) Awards. Other nominees for this category include Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift.
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