By this time of year, almost everybody is ready for a little blast of springtime. To get a dose of the season in musical form, head south next week to see Kellie Pickler. The sunny country starlet from Albemarle, N.C., is playing the Tuacahn Amphitheatre on Thursday as part of a multiple-city tour.
Pickler, who first came to national fame on "American Idol" in 2005, is performing in support of her second album, as well as the newly released fourth single from that record, "Makin' Me Fall in Love Again."
She is gearing up to record her third album with producer Frank Liddell, who also produces Miranda Lambert, a singer who followed a similar path to fame when she made it to the finals on "Nashville Star."
Pickler was raised primarily by her grandparents and listened to real-deal country music -- Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton are a few influences Pickler cites.
Pickler said she wants to remember those roots with her third album.
"The second one was a little more pop country than the first one. And it was nice to try something new -- I thought it was a good experience to switch it up a little. But my heart is more traditional than the more pop side of country."
The show itself will offer a mix of both old-style country songs and those in a more pop vein from the second album, said Pickler.
"Of course, I do songs from my first record, as well as the one out now," Pickler said. "I love to do covers of classics. So there will be quite a few different varieties of music that night."
A good song
Pickler has always written in one form or another, and she says that creating songs is the favorite part of any project for her.
"I think it is very therapeutic," she said. "It is a great way to get your thoughts, ideas, in order, by getting them out on paper. It's more therapeutic than anything for me.
"I write whenever I feel inspired to write, a lot about my life and different things. I write from an honest place. And I write anytime, anyplace inspiration hits. I once wrote a song on an airplane barf bag."
Not that Pickler won't do a good song that someone else writes -- she welcomes it.
"If it is better than my own material, absolutely," she said. "The thing about doing a great album is getting great songs. For instance, I love performing 'Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You.' I did not write that song, but it is my favorite from my first album."
The challenge this time is deciding how much she wants to reveal of herself on this upcoming album.
"I am in a place where I have to decide how much I want to let people in," she said. "There are things in your life that are private, and need to remain private. And then there are some things that might be good to get off your shoulders and get it out there, and maybe someone else can be healed by it. You have to decide how much to let people in."
Pickler very much appreciates the help that placing sixth on the fifth season of "American Idol" did for her career -- especially the things she learned on the road during the summer tour with the other contestants following that season.
What concerns her is the impression some may have of her from the limited glimpses of her that aired during the program. Pickler was burdened with a ditsy blonde persona that she finds objectionable.
"It might sound funny, but anytime you are part of a television show, there is so much people don't get to see," she said. "The audience only gets to see a small part of who you are. There are more sides of you than just that five minutes they see of you each week on TV, but they feel like they know who you are.
"But you can't really get to know anybody like that. You don't truly get to know someone until you see them turned upside down and shaken a few times, and their world starting to go to hell. Now, that's how you really get to know somebody well."
- WHO: Kellie Pickler
- WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday
- WHERE: Tuacahn Amphitheatre, 1100 Tuacahn Drive, Ivins
- TICKETS: $34.50-$54.50, available from www.tuacahn.org