On Oct. 25, country singers Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington are coming to Richmond Community College’s Cole Auditorium to perform together.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Journal earlier this month, Pickler said she always enjoys performing with Covington, who is from Rockingham.
“Bucky and I always have a good time together,” said Pickler. “We’ll do some covers but we’ll also do some new songs too.”
The country girl from Albemarle said all she ever wanted to do was head to Nashville, Tenn., to work in honky-tonks to “make it the way Dolly Parton did.” But her story is nothing like the country legend she admires.
Pickler said she spent her summers at Lake Tillery, barefoot, eating barbecue with her school friends, with whom she is still close today. She said she was “very much a tom-boy.”
“Everyone who knew me knew I wanted to sing,” she said. “I always had a passion for music. The fact that my dreams became a reality is shocking.”
Pickler said faith in God played a big role in her success. Her story of rising to fame is one of prayer and gratefulness. She had plans to audition for “American Idol” in Memphis, but the audition was cancelled because victims of Hurricane Katrina were being housed in the arena where the audition was to take place.
“When I heard it was cancelled I thought, maybe it’s not meant to be,” said Pickler. “The next audition was in Chicago and we couldn’t afford it. I literally got on my hands and knees and said, ‘Lord, if it is meant for me, please God, bring it to me.’ The next day, there was a banner across the TV screen that said there was an audition coming to Greensboro. God has been in this the whole time.”
As for “American Idol,” Pickler said she never truly thought she would win, or that the show would put her on the path she dreamed of.
“I didn’t really get to sit and watch the show. I was working three jobs at the time,” said Pickler. “When Kelly Clarkson was crowned, I saw the confetti fall just as I was walking in the door from work. Then later, I saw the crowning of Carrie Underwood just as I was coming through the door again. I never planned to be on the show, it just happened. I had always planned to pack up my little Honda after graduation and move to Nashville to get a record deal the old-fashioned way.”
Once on the show, Pickler said she got along with judge Simon Cowell, often known for his harsh criticism.
“Simon can be pretty intimidating but he’s just honest,” said Pickler. “I mean, honestly, you have to be able to take it because it only gets worse. The industry is brutal, it’s not easy, and people always have an opinion. More people talk about you. You just have to be happy with yourself.”
Recently, Pickler shaved her head in support of her best friend, who is undergoing chemotherapy. Apart from supporting her friend, Pickler visits children’s hospitals. She said when she went to visit the children, who had lost their hair during chemotherapy, the children would play with her golden hair and tell her how beautiful it was. But Pickler felt bad for the girls who had to see her with hair.
“I wanted to embrace it (the shaved head) and show them hair does not define how beautiful they are,” said Pickler. “I want them to see me and think, ‘wow, she wants to look like me.’ It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s even harder when I know there is a baby suffering. They don’t want to be treated like they’re sick. I sing to them and they sing to me but we always have fun.”
Pickler said she hasn’t changed from being a Southern girl raised in the heart of Carolina, and she doesn’t think of herself as “Kellie Pickler” — to herself she is just Kellie.
Pickler and Covington will also be performing Oct. 26. For more details, call 910-410-1691.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.