Miranda Lambert was born Nov. 10, 1983, and is a native of Lindale, Texas. Her father Rick is a country guitarist and songwriter who gathered friends and neighbors often to his rural home. During the week, he and Miranda's mother Bev run a detective agency. But country music is the heart of the household on weekends, with the young Lambert raised on the songs of Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Merle Haggard and her dad.
After seeing Garth Brooks play in Dallas when she was 10, she entered her first country talent contest, singing Holly Dunn's "Daddy's Hands," with her father accompanying her on guitar. Her bedroom was soon decorated with country-star photos. She began annually attending Nashville's Fan Fair festivities at age 13 and was soon an avid autograph collector. At age 14, Rick bought her a guitar, but to his surprise, she expressed no interest in it.
Lambert was 16 when she heard of the Tru-Value country talent contest. She entered and placed well in the Texas competition. She began appearing on the Johnny High Country Music Review in Arlington, near Fort Worth, the same show that helped launch LeAnn Rimes. She attended a music-business seminar in Nashville, which led to a demo recording session. But she hated the four pop-country songs chosen for her. When she returned to Texas, she asked her father to teach her the guitar, so she could write her own songs.
She was inspired by the examples of singer-songwriters like Jack Ingram, Allison Moorer, Guy Clark and Emmylou Harris. One talent contest led to a contract with an agency that got her a small part in a Ruffles potato chip ad and work in the 2001 teen comedy movie Slap Her She's French. In Nashville, she placed second out of 400 for the role of Tammy Wynette in the musical Stand by Your Man.
At age 17, Lambert formed her Texas Pride band and landed her first professional singing engagement. It was at Deep Ellum's Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas. Closer to home, she earned the "house band" job at the Reo Palm Isle Ballroom in Longview while in high school. Built in the 1930s and having showcased everyone from Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson, it is the oldest continuously operated ballroom in Texas.
In 2001, Rick funded a $2,000 CD showcasing his daughter's songs, and her younger brother Luke created a Web site to sell it. Bev drove her to radio stations to promote it and called clubs to get her bookings. The family invested in a motor home, a sound system and an equipment trailer. Starring in Annie Get Your Gun was one of her last high school activities and she graduated early to devote herself to music.
She toured on the Texas music circuit throughout 2002 and placed two songs from her CD on the Texas music charts. In January 2003, she placed first in the Texas auditions for the series Nashville Star, and moved to Nashville to appear on the show. She finished third but ultimately signed with Sony Music, one of the show's sponsors. Her debut album Kerosene debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country albums chart in early 2005.