The country music star opens up about loss and the importance of giving back on the latest season of her CMT reality series.
Who am I today?
That’s a question country music darling Kellie Pickler has been asking quite a bit recently. Between recording new music for a yet-to-be-announced album, filming the third season of her hit CMT series, I Love Kellie Pickler, and preparing to make her hosting debut on a daytime talk show produced by Faith Hill, the singer and reality star is donning more than her fair share of hats these days.
Staying busy is good but it’s forcing her to come up with creative ways to keep life normal. It’s one reason she was so excited to film her reality show with her husband, Kyle Jacobs.
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader
“We have a great time,” Pickler tells Guideposts.org. “These are short little 30 minute episodes that we get to document memories that we make with our friends and look back on down the road. Working on a project together enables us to actually spend more time together, so that's been lovely.”
Those memories include adopting a kangaroo, completing ice bucket challenges, Go-Kart racing, and catfish hunting, but Pickler’s also happy to use her show to spotlight things that matter to her, like supporting our troops.
“Obviously I don't serve wearing a uniform, but I can serve those that serve,” Pickler explains. “I feel like it's important for all of us to do our part. There's always something that we can do, no matter who you are, where you come from, what you have or think you don't have. Everyone can do their part.”
The show’s third season follows Kellie and Kyle as they visit troops on the ground in Iraq during the holidays, performing for them and delivering Christmas gifts.
“When we partnered with the USO 11 tours ago, it was the right thing to do,” Pickler says matter-of-factly. “They gave us an opportunity to take [a bit of] home to our service men and women around the world and we said yes because it would have been wrong not to. I feel like we were just blessed with a wonderful opportunity to do something that mattered and we get to shine a light on that with the show.”
Besides her extensive charity work -- which includes running a rock-n-roll marathon for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Nashville, something Pickler says was challenging because she usually only runs “if it's an emergency” – the new season of the show focuses on more on the singer’s family life, including her relationship with Jacobs and the shenanigans they get into. Their latest? Planning to put up their Christmas tree a few months ahead of schedule.
“I said, ‘Babe, I think if we are going to put a Christmas tree up this year, we might have to put it up in September because I've only got three days off for the rest of the year,’” Pickler says recounting a conversation with her husband a few minutes earlier. “We're going to have to knock out Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all at the same time. We'll just have a Christmas tree with turkey ornaments and Halloween decorations too.”
Pickler says fans shouldn’t be waiting to see any drama on the new season of the series.
“We ain't really got nothing juicy,” she explains.
But viewers can look forward to some fresh music from the star. The show follows Pickler as she records a tribute song titled “If It Wasn’t For A Woman” to her late Grandma Faye, the woman who raised the artist and who has had a lasting effect on Pickler’s life.
“That's always a tough day for me,” Pickler says, recalling the anniversary of her grandmother’s passing this past January. “We've all lost loved ones, and those days can be a little tough I think for anyone.”
The song came to her as she was sharing stories about her grandmother with husband Kyle and their good friend, songwriter Brian Bunn at the kitchen table one morning.
“It was weird. I was on the phone with my Great Aunt Jean, which is Faye's sister,” Pickler says. “I said, ‘Aunt Jean I just hope she visits me today.’ She said, ‘Oh she will baby.’ We hung up and I walked in the kitchen, and Brian and Kyle and I just started [talking] and this song just came from it. It's like, ‘All right, there you are grandma.’ She pretty much wrote it.”
The song, speaks to the strength, courage, and wisdom Pickler’s grandmother passed down to her. It’s something the singer is constantly trying to show her fans – the value in living a good life and helping others.
“It is important to live by example,” Pickler says. “I think people pay more attention to what you do versus what you say. The actions speak louder than words.”
And though she loves filming for TV and is excited about her latest talk show project, music will always be her greatest form of storytelling.
“Being able to capture her love and put it in the form of a song, and honor her was really special,” Pickler explains. “I think that's what country music is about, telling a story. It's about life.”
I Love Kellie Pickler Season 3 premieres on CMT at 11/10c.