"American Idol" alum of season five in 2006, Kellie Pickler tore the Wendy’s main stage up Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Arkansas State Fair.
The Albemarle, N.C., native performed a set of 13 songs to a packed crowd of fair attendees. Several fans stood in the back after several rows of seats were taken.
Pickler kicked the show off with her upbeat song “Gotta Keep Moving.” From one end of the stage to the other, she did everything but slow down as she sang, “I can’t wait to be with you / Finally just the two of us / In our old jeans and our hair messed up.” The song served as the perfect opener and led right into the next song, “Girls Like Me.”
Pickler slowed things down to share a heartfelt story about her grandmother before beginning the song “My Angel.” She explained how her grandmother was not just her grandma, she filled the void left by her mom as well. Her grandparents raised her and her younger brother after their mother abandoned them and their father went to prison. Her grandmother died six years ago.
“I like to look at her now as if she’s my angel, so this one’s for Grandma,” she said.
“You were like my mother / You were my best friend / You were everything I want to be / And all the good inside of me / There’s never been another / Who loved me like you did / My grandmother / My angel,” a teary-eyed Pickler sang.
There was not a dry eye in the house by the time she finished. Sadly, this was not the last time Pickler would bring tears to the audience’s eyes.
To pick up the pace, she performed her new single “Things that Never Cross a Man’s Mind.”
Tears turned to laughter and singing as she pranced while singing, “I need to go shopping / These shoes are all wrong / Just look in my closet / Not a thing to put on / I wonder how these jeans make me look from behind / Things that never cross a man’s mind.”
The pace balanced out as she premiered a new song co-written with her good friend Taylor Swift. Swift and Pickler toured together opening for Brad Paisley during the summer.
The new song, “Best Days of Your Life," was written “about one of the pigs I dated, and I’d love to share it with you,” Pickler joked.
“I’ll be there / In the back of your mind / From the day we met / To the very last night / And it’s just to bad / You’ve already had / The best days of your life,” Pickler sang as she pointed to herself on the last line.
Swift and Pickler make a pretty incredible songwriting team. Pickler chose to test the song out on the crowds before she makes a decision to include it on her sophomore album.
Two more songs from Pickler’s debut album, "Small Town Girl," followed: “One of the Guys” and “Didn’t You Know How Much I Loved You.”
After dancing around stage, she decided to sit for the next song. That was, after fighting with her jeans to make it possible. She joked about popping a button off and blinding someone as she sat directly in front of the first row.
Pickler gave a brief description of her hometown in North Carolina. According to her, the only attraction in town is the Super Wal-Mart. The scene sets up the song “Small Town Girl” perfectly.
“Driving ‘round the Wal-Mart on a Friday night / I’m just a small town girl / That’s all I’ll ever be / ... That’s alright with me,” she sang.
The next song was introduced with comedy.
“Guys, don’t think you’re not going to get a song about you. Ladies, stand by your man, they don’t know any better,” she teased the crowd before performing a cover of the country classic, “Stand By Your Man.”
The Idol star then introduced her band as well as giving the crowd her “true definition of an 'American Idol'" - Dolly Parton. She proceeded with the best rendition of “9 to 5” I have ever heard. I think she even showed up her own idol.
Another heartfelt story came before the song “I Wonder.”
“I admire country music, because it’s about life. It’s about real people like you and I. With each song, there’s a story, and we relate to it,” Pickler said.
She wrote the song about not having a relationship with her mother.
“I think about how it ain’t fair / That you weren’t there to braid my hair / Like mother’s do / You weren’t around to cheer me on / Help me dress for my high school prom / Like mother’s do / Did you think I didn’t need you here / To hold my hand / To dry my tears / Did you even miss me through the years,” she sang.
Once again, she awestruck the audience by the reality of the song and most could be found wiping tears from their eyes.
She quickly moved into her hit single, “Red High Heels.”
The crowd joined in with singing the chorus as they jumped up and down, “You can watch me walk / If you want to / Want to / I bet you want me back now / Don’t you / Don’t you / I’m about to show you just how missing me feels / In my red high heels.”
Pickler thanked the crowd for coming and advertised T-shirts, autographed photos and CDs for sale at the merchandise table before exiting the stage.
About five minutes later, she reappeared for an encore.
She wrapped her set up with a cover of Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” the very first song she ever performed live.
Being voted off American Idol in sixth place has not brought much success to any contestant of the Idol franchise. Kellie Pickler proves herself the exception.
Pickler will continue her tour of fairs and festivals as well as a few opening gigs for country superstars Rascal Flatts.
ŠThe Voice 2007
Revised 01/13/2008 03:30:56 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/5_7/pickler.htm