"My great grandmother's name was Selma Drye/ everybody tells me I got her hazel eyes/ they turn Carolina blue when I cry/ and that's alright with me/ she kept a 38 special and a can of snuff/ in the pocket of her apron/ case somethin came up/ she grew up ragged, she grew up rough/ the way she had to be." - Selma Drye - Kellie Pickler-Billy Montana-Phillip Lamonds

Don't expect Dancing With The Stars winner and reality rooted country singer-songwriter Kellie Picker to back down if there is a showdown.

The North Carolina born belle has some mean genes in the female side of her ancestry.

Although her mother abandoned her as an infant and her dad Bo has spent plenty of time behind bars she drew inspiration from her grandparents who raised her and her great grandmother who packed a pistol in her purse.

Pickler, 27, wrote poignant songs about her mother and father on previous albums but it's Selma Drye who is eulogised on her fourth album The Woman I Am, released here on the eve of her first Australian tour with Toby Keith and the Eli Young Band from Texas.

"She was your true hillbilly grandma," Pickler told Nu Country TV by phone from Nashville.

"She really had a pistol in her purse, she dipped snuff. She was a spitfire. All us grandkids were all scared of her. She lived in this little trailer in front of my grandparents' house for over 40 years. She never drove a car, never had a driver's license - that was the devil.

She was just a strong woman and that song is really about her and her generation of women, and how they were raised."

Ironically prolific tunesmith husband Kyle Jacobs proposed to Pickler on a Florida beach on June 15, 2010.

The proposal fell on the anniversary of her late grandmother's birthday.

"It turned out to be the most amazing day of my life," she said.

"My whole world changed. We both feel like we got my grandmother's blessing."

The singer, who made a rare trip home to Albemarle, North Carolina, in November to launch her new album, says making a video for Selma Drye would add to her adulation.

"It would be great to get back home and do a video for that," Pickler confessed.

"I was excited to go home and see all my old friends - family and everything. I was raised by grandparents. My grandfather is still alive."

But right now she has already released two videos from her new album - producers Luke Wooten and Frank Liddell (husband of Texan stone country singer Lee Ann Womack) also were at the helm of her third album 100 Proof.


"Someone somewhere tonight/ is stuck in a prison/ they're breathing, they're just barely living/ behind walls of their own." - Someone Somewhere Tonight - Davis Raines-Walt Wilkins.

Pickler released a song penned by former Alabama death row prison warder Davis Raines and Texan Walt Wilkins as the first single and video from her album.

Someone Somewhere Tonight, originally recorded by Wilkins, was also cut by Kenny Rogers on his 2006 album Water & Bridges & Pam Tillis.

Kellie chose it ahead of songs she penned and others written by her prolific tunesmith husband Kyle Jacobs who has written hits for Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Jo Dee Messina, Craig Morgan and Clay Walker and many more.

"My husband Kyle pointed me to that song," Pickler revealed.

"I fell in love with it the first moment I heard it. I thought it was an amazing, beautifully written song. I think it touches every walk of life. I love the song. I heard the Kenny Rogers version and performed it with him at the Ryman Auditorium a couple of weeks ago.

He invited me to come and sing it with him it was a really special moment. Walt's version is beautiful too - I believe Pam Tillis cut it as well. Derek Hough, my partner in Dancing With The Stars, was also in the video recorded in Nashville. I heard last night he suffered a back injury. That's what happens in dance. It's a risky game. You can really get hurt."


"I'm a travelling circus train/ a spinning weather vane/ going where the wind blows, yeah/ I was born to chase the sun/ some horses got to run/ yeah, I'm always gonna be/ a little bit Gypsy." - A Little Bit Gypsy - Kyle Jacobs, Tammie Kidd Hutton-Fred Wilhlelm.

Pickler has since released a new single Little Bit Gypsy, penned by her husband Kyle Jacobs, Tammie Kidd Hutton and Fred Wilhlelm.

The singer jokingly dubbed it A Little Bit Tipsy after being presented with three shot glasses by TV host Ellen De Genres on her TV show.

"They're empty, what am I supposed to do with that?" Pickler joked.

Immediately, DeGeneres pulled out some Jack Daniels as the star exclaimed, "Ask and you shall receive!"

She threw back the first shot with ease, saying, "I love this. This is great," and then held out her glass for more.

And DeGeneres gladly obliged.

"Are you tryin' to get me drunk?" Pickler asked, adding, "I ramble now, but if I'm drunk, I really ramble."

Instead of responding, DeGeneres simply motioned to the glass, which was still full, but not for long.

This happened after our interview so Pickler had a more sober explanation for the song source.

"It's a fun light song that had a lot of energy and felt good," Pickler told me.

"I loved the way it felt."


"Sometimes I cry at night/ fall to pieces with Patsy Cline/ man I miss songs like that/ but that's just the woman I am." - The Woman I Am - Kellie Pickler-Kyle Jacobs.

When Kellie won the latest season of Dancing With The Stars it gave her more than just a higher profile and multi-media springboard.

"After I won Dancing With The Stars a journalist asked me which song of mine best described me in a nutshell and I said you know, honestly I don't know if I've written it yet, but I'm going to," Pickler revealed.

"My husband came home that night and we wrote The Woman I Am. I guess it's my song, who I am. I've always loved Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn, always loved traditional country. That is definitely sprinkled through my new work. Don't get me wrong. I have my own sound."

The couple also wrote Bonnie & Clyde - with a little help from Liz Rose.

"I love the song, it's so much fun, we're going to open up our shows with it on the road," Pickler confessed.

"It represents that crazy love you might have for the person you're with. We wrote that a couple of months ago. Liz came out on the road with us for some shows when I was touring. My husband was also out there with me."

Although the album includes those collaborations with Jacobs it's one of the tunes Pickler didn't write with him that she says might have a hidden message.

"They were doing a writer's retreat," she recalled.

"I think it was during Dancing With the Stars. He was getting ready to write another song. And I said, 'Well write a song for me, I need a song. So him and the three other guys who were there, they wrote No Cure for Crazy, so I don't know what they're trying to say.

I thought it was hilarious. It's so true."

Pickler admits it's a luxury being married to a hit songwriter.

"He writes every day with different people, he writes all the time," Pickler says.

"He's coming down to Australian with me, it's both our first time in Australia.

The songstress says that while she and Jacobs both make appointments to write with other people, they rarely set aside time to write together. I have never sat down and written specifically for another artist - never pitched any of my songs to anyone. Anytime we write it usually happens organically. It's just a random inspiration."


"Lucky girl, she got the Gucci gown the veil and curls/ I got your precious box set of Merle/ so honey tell me who's the lucky girl." - Lucky Girl - Catherine Britt-Brett Beavers-Tony Martin.

Although Pickler is touring here for the first time she already has strong links with local peers, dating back to recording Novocastrian Catherine Britt's original Lucky Girl in 2006.

"It's on my first album, I absolutely adore her," Kellie said of Britt.

"She's such an amazing songwriter and singer, she's very talented. She was respected in Nashville then she moved back to Australia.

Pickler also joined Fawkner singer-songwriter Jasmine Rae for a duet on Bad Boys Get Me Good on Rae's third album If I Want To.

"She's a powerhouse, she's an amazing singer and she's beautiful," Pickler revealed.

"She heard 100 Proof - my last album - and was a fan of that record. She tracked Luke Wooten down who produced that album and asked him to produce her record. She came here to the states and asked my producer if I would sing on her album. He told me she wanted me to come in and sing on the record - she's so sweet too."


"He's gonna sleep in them cowboy boots/ on that couch tonight/ I'm gonna sit at that kitchen table/ with a bottle of wine/I'm gonna search that midnight radio/ til I find something that hurts/ where's Tammy Wynette when you need her?" - Where's Tammy Wynette When You Need Her? - Kellie Picker-Leslie Satcher- Don Poythress-Jimmy Ritchey

Pickler recorded five songs by Texan Leslie Satcher on her previous album 100 Proof including the title track.

The others were Unlock That Honky Tonk and Turn On The Radio And Dance (both co-written with Kellie) and Where's Tammy Wynette When You Need Her?

This time Pickler chose Tough All Over penned by Satcher and fellow Texan Gary Nicholson.

"Leslie Satcher is amazing, such an incredible songwriter," Pickler said.

"She's a country Texas girl from Paris, Texas. We hit if off great from the start. Her song Tough All Over was on one of the CD demos sent to me. I heard it and fell in love with it immediately - it's a beautifully written song and had such a powerful message."

She also had a good reason for choosing to record the Chris Stapleton-Jim Beaver song Ring For Sale.

"A friend of mine is going through a divorce right now," Pickler confessed.

"I heard the song on a demo and thought I had to cut that song for my friend. It fits perfectly."

Pickler included I Forgive You - a sibling song to Mother's Day - on her new album.

The singer had the song in her archives since the sessions for debut disc Small Town Girl.

At 20 she co-wrote five tunes for the disc and charted with entrée Red High Heels that shot the album to #1 on the Billboard charts.

"It just wasn't meant to be at that time," Pickler explained about the belated recording because she wasn't ready to do it justice at the time.

It reflects the pain suffered by the singer, raised by her paternal grandparents after her mother abandoned her at a young age and her father drifted in and out of prison.

"I think it has such a powerful message," Pickler revealed.

"I think we've all been hurt and we've all hurt somebody. There's a lot of grace in that, not just inspired by my mother but inspired by whoever you meet. I guess it's a closure song.

As I said we've all hurt people and we've all been hurt. It's just part of life, part of being human.

We're not all perfect - we have to forgive and let go."

She elaborated on the song's genetic sources.

"I love this song because there's so much closure and healing in it," she added.

"I think there's so much grace in the words 'I forgive you.' I think people are really going to identify with that and I hope that song helps a lot of people. It's in my bloodline. I know all the women on my father's side of the family, and just looking down through the family tree. I have strong women in my family from my great-great grandma Hall to my great-grandma Drye to my grandma Faye that raised me. My aunts, my cousins, we got some strong girls, some strong females in our family, and we've all had to create something from nothing."


"I try to count my blessings/ it's a long, long list/ for a girl who has so much/ there's so much that I miss on days like this/ I wish I could go to town/ buy you a card/ that says 'I love you' inside a heart/ and one that makes you laugh/ pick you flowers from our yard/ you can set 'em in the window in a Mason jar/ Dad will take our photograph." - Mother's Day - Kellie Pickler- Kyle Jacobs.

Pickler said she didn't write previous song Mother's Day for her mother.

"No, because I didn't write that song for her," Pickler confided of the song that appeared on 100 Proof.

"I didn't write that for anyone but me. That might sound selfish, but sometimes you have to do things for yourself. Kyle and I wrote it on Mother's Day. You cannot get away from that day - it's on billboards, in malls and restaurants, on the radio. So I was hurting that day, and we wrote Mother's Day without intentions for anyone else to hear it. We wrote this song because I needed closure. I am happy that it's on the record, because I know a lot of other people are in similar situations, so I hope they can connect with the song and that it helps them the same way it helped me. That's what music is for."

Pickler also wrote The Letter (To Daddy) and Long As I Never See You Again with Dean Dillon and Dale Dotson on 100 Proof.

"They're some of my favourite writers, we've written several songs together," Pickler said of her collaborators. I recently went up to Dean's cabin up in Colorado a few months ago. He's amazing, so talented."

And the song?

"The Letter (To Daddy) on the other hand, is a song about being proud of your father despite everything he put your family through with his substance abuse problems and criminal past.

There are moments in that song where my voice cracks, because when we were cutting it I was really emotional. I'm a Daddy's girl, and I will always be a part of his life. I lived with my dad whenever he was not incarcerated. And when he was in prison and I lived with my grandparents, we wrote each other letters. Every time the mail came, my daddy had written me a letter. I have them all - every single letter he's ever written me since I was a kid. But I'd never been able to write this letter, because he was never in the place that he is now. He's not in the same place he was 20 years ago, thank God. This letter is something I've always wanted to be able to say. He's struggled his whole life with alcoholism and drug addiction, and that's something you never stop struggling with. When you're an alcoholic, you're always an alcoholic - even if you're sober. You're going to have those days where you feel like giving up. My dad is sober today, but is he going to be tomorrow? I don't know. But I do know that I love and support him, and this song is the most special song on my record. I think it's a sweet way of saying, "We did it! We're still together, regardless."

Pickler's fourth album The Woman I Am is released here on Black River-ABC-Universal Music.

Kellie is touring Australia with Toby Keith and the Eli Young Band in March - they play CMC Rocks The Hunter before Rod Laver Arena on March 19.

CLICK HERE for Tonkgirl's Gig Guide for all concert dates.

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