Country superstar Miranda Lambert is riding high with new tunes, an upcoming Vegas residency, and inspired forays into home goods and Western fashion.
Back in 2011, I drove a hundred miles through the snow to interview Miranda Lambert. No kidding.
She was in Dallas for a photo shoot, and I was on my way there from Houston when the flakes began to fall. First slowly, then seriously. Naturally, I drove as cautiously as possible. Just as naturally, my editor called periodically to make sure that I was safe. And, more important, that I would get there on time.
Lambert laughed as we shared that memory recently — “Yeah, I remember that! I love it!” — and she laughed even harder when I reminded her that I wasn’t just a fan, I was a “Ran Fan” — and I still had the nickname-branded koozie I picked up at her 2009 CMA Festival meet-and-greet to prove it.
Truth to tell, it’s all a pleasure to talk with this contagiously upbeat, unabashedly feisty, and terrifically multitalented lady. But we agreed that, all things considered, we would do our catching up for this story over the phone. We reconnected earlier this year, not so long after the release of her new album, Palomino, the announcement of her upcoming Las Vegas residency, the launch of her Walmart line of home essentials, and her appearance on Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s most influential people. Here are highlights from our conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
Cowboys & Indians:: I am holding in my hand right now — because I’m one of the OG people who still do print media — Time magazine. Congratulations.
Miranda Lambert: Thank you so much.
C&I: And I notice that you are listed not under artists or pioneers, but innovators.
Lambert: I saw that. And actually, when I first got the article, I was trying to look through to find myself on the list — and I went straight to artists, of course. And then I saw I was listed as an innovator, and I was like, “Hmm. Interesting.”
C&I: Well, do you agree with that description?
Lambert: It’s hard to say about yourself, honestly. I’m not sure what the explanation for that description is. I’m very flattered, obviously. And I don’t know, I think I try to be an innovator, so I guess I accept that.
C&I: Elle King writes in her essay for the magazine that you’ve been very outspoken and innovative in raising the profile of female country artists.
Lambert: Yeah. And I take that very seriously to heart. If we don’t fight for us, who’s going to? So, I feel in that way, I’ve definitely tried to be an innovator. And I keep trying daily to think of new ways that I can be of help to any artist, but especially a female singer-songwriter. When you pick this job, you pick it for your life and it’s a commitment. And there’s a lot of sacrifice that goes with it. So having a network where we can bounce things off each other is so much more helpful than trying to navigate it on your own.
C&I: Do you remember the first time you encountered sexism in the industry, and the thought formed in your mind that, Uh-oh, this is going to be part of the package?
Lambert: Yeah. I think I got my first taste of it when I was trying to get booked into gigs. I’m 17, I’m writing songs, and my mom’s trying to get my gigs booked, and the bar owners would all say the same thing: “We don’t book girls. They don’t draw.” And so I had to fight that battle from day one of wanting to do this for my career. And proving them wrong is what I’m still doing to this day, which is great. But it was definitely not an easy way to start out with no one really giving you a good shake, a fair start.
C&I: You mentioned your mom, and that reminds me of something we talked about years ago. While you were growing up, you had a mom and a dad who were private investigators. And while you were at the dinner table, they sometimes talked about the bad behavior of the people they investigated. Did this help prepare you for dealing with people who were, shall we say, impediments?
Lambert: Absolutely. I think the table talk around our house was not your conventional conversation over spaghetti and meatballs. But I think that’s also where I gathered a lot of my early information for songwriting. I mean, at 17, how much have you lived to really be able to write about? So I absorbed a lot of that information for my craft and I still do. People say, “What’s your biggest inspiration?” And I’m like, “Life.”
C&I: You also mentioned that those conversations with mom and dad made you cautious about whom you should trust. Do you find it easier to trust people these days?
Lambert: I think a little bit, yeah. I think that comes with age and experience, and getting a little more comfortable in your own skin. It’s like, I’m pretty much able to read people right off the bat. So I feel like I’ve been able to surround myself with really, really great people. I credit a lot of my success to the people around me for always leading me in the right direction and supporting me on the right things, and it’s very helpful.
C&I: There must be some days when you’re on tour, or when you’re recording, and you wake up and think, “I wouldn’t like to do this today. I would really like to stay in bed.” Or, “I would really not like to go out tonight.” When that happens, how do you rev up your engine?
Lambert: [Laughs.] Well, after 20 years of doing it, you can’t love it every day.
C&I: True enough.
Lambert: But you know, what helps me the most is being able to miss it. I think that downtime is so important. And I learned a lot more about that during 2020 because I was forced to rest and take a break, with no other options. I learned to settle into that — and then ended up writing three records. So I learned about myself. And thought, “OK, I’m way better at my job when I take a minute away from it so that I can miss it. And then I can regroup and balance out my life stuff and my work stuff.” For the first six months of the pandemic, I probably didn’t write anything. And, like I say, then I ended up writing three records. So it just showed me it’s important to balance things. That’s the most important thing for me now.
I credit a lot of my success to the people around me for always leading me in the right direction and supporting me on the right things, and it’s very helpful.
C&I: Now I know this is like asking you who’s your favorite child or something like that. But in the course of a concert, what are maybe the three songs you most look forward to performing for a live audience? Not necessarily your best songs or your best-known songs. But every night, these are going to be on the song list, and you’re really looking forward to playing these.
Lambert: There’s always a new one — that keeps it fresh. Like, right now, “If I Was A Cowboy” is on my set list, and it’s my first single from Palomino, and I get excited to sing that. And when “Little Red Wagon” comes up on the set, I’m like, “Yay, it’s here.” Because it’s just fun, and especially the kids — if there are kids in the audience — they just love it. It’s just a fun, feel-good song. And then I guess in the same vein, we’ve been ending our shows with “Drunk,” which is my single with Elle King. And it is just such an anthem, and it brings people so much joy, and you just can’t help but jump up and down. And the whole crowd starts jumping up and down, too. It’s like, OK, the show’s over, but we had the best time because we always do it last. I’ve been enjoying that.
C&I: Are “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder & Lead” still part of your set list?
Lambert: Absolutely. Those are the kinds of songs that are staples. So they’re in there. I can’t get away from them, but I’m not tired of them yet. “Kerosene” for sure. It’s like the OG, it started this whole ball rolling.
C&I: Well, it’d be like if you were Mick Jagger, and you tried to get away with not singing “Satisfaction.”
Lambert: [Laughs.] Exactly. That’s not going to work.
C&I: But do you notice that some of the women in the audience seem to whoop and holler a bit louder during those two than maybe some of the other ones?
Lambert: Those two and “Mama’s Broken Heart.” We had to move that one in the set list because we had it right after “The House That Built Me” — or right before “The House That Built Me,” actually — and the girls always get in fights. And I’d have to wait to start my ballad because they’d have to calm down from “Mama’s Broken Heart.” So we moved it down into what we call the final push, which is “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Gunpowder & Lead,” “Little Red Wagon,” and “Drunk.” We do this final push at the end of the show. So, if the girls were fighting, they could just fight through the rest of the set.
C&I: Can you tell us a little bit about your new Walmart brand of entertaining essentials and home décor?
Lambert: Yes, it’s called Wanda June. It’s named after my mom, Beverly June Lambert, and my grandmother, her mom, Wanda Louise Coker. Basically, the whole concept started because I was having memories of hand-me-down china and cocktail sets and things that my mom treasures that were my grandma’s, and that were her grandma’s. And so, when we started working on the concept, it was like, “Let’s make this really about things that can be collectible for mothers and daughters and grandmothers for years to come.” We wanted to get that feeling of nostalgia back. And it’s been so much fun to put together. I just sat with the guys that are going to design it, and we talked about what was important to me about my family and my memories. And I think a lot of the best memories are made around the dinner table. So that’s what we based this whole Wanda June line on.
C&I: Finally: You have a Las Vegas residency coming up in September. Do you see this as a milestone in your career? Like something you’ve been actively working toward, or
Lambert: I didn’t think that I was working towards it necessarily until it came along, if that makes any sense. And I’m like, “Oh, this feels right at this exact time.” When you tour for 20 years, it’s like, they’ve seen you. So you have to sometimes take a little bit of a step back to make people miss you. But how do you still pay your people and work and all that kind of stuff? Vegas came at just exactly the right time for me because, number one, how cool is it that the party comes to me for once? I’ve been going to the parties for all these years, so I’m very excited about that. I’m very excited to be part of what Vegas is and what it represents for people. It’s a complete escape.
And I just feel like the tone’s already set. Like, the show’s in Vegas — you know this is going to be fun. So I’m really excited. We’re right in the middle of the creative process right now. And it’s been cool to put together because I can take it up a notch from anything I’ve ever done on the road. I’m having fun figuring that out — and I’m very nervous about it. It’s something completely different for me not to get off the bus and go play a show. I may have to just ride my bus out there for the first show, just so I feel normal.
C&I: Or keep it parked right outside.
Lambert: Exactly. But I’m super pumped about it, and every one of the artist friends that I have that has done Vegas residencies speaks so highly of it, so I know it’s going to be fun.
World of Miranda:
Wanda June Home is Miranda Lambert's new lifestyle line that can be found exclusively at Walmart. Lambert calls the homey, family-inspired household decor brand a "physical representation of a long line of beautiful memories with amazing women." And Boot Barn is in business with Lambert as well, offering her Idyllwind western fashion line exclusively since 2018. She says the styles were "built around comfortable, soft, affordable, great fitting clothes and boots, that I call my trusties."
Wanda June Home Vintage Stripe 12-Piece Porcelain Dinnerware: Set ($39.97), walmart.com
Wanda June Home Stay Awhile Doormat: Set ($24.97), walmart.com
Wanda June Home Game On Assorted 18-ounce Stoneware Camper Mugs: Set of 4 ($19.84), walmart.com
Lindale Tan Performance Western Boots, Square Toe: ($199.50), idyllwind.com, bootbarn.com
Oak Hill Fringe Leather Jacket: ($249.50), idyllwind.com, bootbarn.com
Annandale Grosgrain Band Wool Felt Western Hat: ($89.50), idyllwind.com, bootbarn.com
For more information on Miranda Lambert’s new music, her Las Vegas residency, and her home and fashion lines, visit mirandalambert.com.