Dan Steinberg / The Associated Press

Kellie Pickler, shown at the 2013 Maxim Hot 100 celebration last May in Los Angeles, is at Harrah’s Tahoe on Saturday.

Casinos: Kellie Pickler tells stories from‘The Woman I Am’

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 - 6:23 pm

Kellie Pickler is looking forward to her Harrah’s Tahoe performance Saturday, not only because the South Shore Room has hosted “good company, for sure,” as she said, over its decades of featuring top talent, but also because it gives her a chance to showcase songs from her album “The Woman I Am.”

“I love this album,” she said. “Any album is like an audio book, each song a chapter and this album particularly so. The songs all tell stories.”

In the case of “The Woman I Am,” the stories run a wide range. There is her current hit song, “Little Bit Gypsy,” one called “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Selma Drye,” written by Pickler about her great-grandmother who carried a pistol and chewed snuff. (“That’s where I come from,” she said.)

Pickler grew up in Albemarle, N.C., and today lives in Nashville, the home of so much music that has inspired her. She said she counts Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Kitty Wells as her muses.

Whether her new album is traditional or contemporary country is a moot point for Pickler.

“A great song is a great song and it’s so hard to label any of them,” she said. “It’s like trying to pigeonhole a religion. It gets you nowhere.”

Of all the many contestants, winners and runner-ups of “American Idol,” Pickler is one of the few able to parlay her participation into a solid career. This album is her fourth, and she has become a reality queen of sorts, given her win last year on “Dancing With the Stars.”

“That was tougher than ‘Idol,’ ” she said of her “Dancing” experience. “I was completely out of my comfort zone.”

Quick to pay tribute to her partner, Derek Hough, Pickler said her favorite dances were the Argentine tango, jazz, and freestyle.

And while “Dancing” pushed her limits, the show that made her famous wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, Pickler said.

“ ‘Idol’ is essentially a big karaoke contest and you’re given genres you know nothing about,” she said. “People don’t understand what all goes into it. The show has to get the rights to the songs, for instance, and they can’t for many (songs) you’d like to sing. There are so many details. Essentially, each week you have to hit the ground running and then run harder.”

And yes, she’s still tuning in to catch all the talent-show drama.

“I love the judges this season,” she said. “There have been some horrible judges since the original panel. This group of Harry (Connick Jr.), Jennifer (Lopez) and Keith (Urban) is eclectic and I love their constructive criticism.” (7:30 p.m.; $71.50; Ticketmaster.com)

Read more articles by Mel Shields

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