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Kellie Pickler Reveals Label Turmoil Behind ’100 Proof’

Gino DePinto, The Boot

Last month, Kellie Pickler parted ways with her longtime label, Sony Music Nashville, not long after the release of her latest album, 100 Proof. The singer blames the split, at least partly, on personnel changes within her former record company.

“When my album came out, I didn’t even have a song out on the radio,” Kellie tells Entertainment Weekly. “Nobody does that. [The label was] spread thin. When I was making my record, the CEO left. He retired. They brought in Gary [Overton]. My A&R left. They brought in somebody else. I went through four heads of promotion when my record was coming out. The only consistency was inconsistency. Recording this album, the process was hell. We couldn’t agree on songs. The thing is, my life is a country song. I don’t need to be manufactured, and I don’t need anyone to tell me what to say or what to sing.”

The “Tough” singer says that regardless of the outcome, she is thrilled with the result.

“[My producers] Luke Wooten and Frank Lidell — they helped me discover the artist in myself,” she notes. “I got to just sit with an acoustic guitar and sing songs that I grew up on. Tammy [Wynette], Merle [Haggard], Waylon [Jennings], Al Dexter, Kitty Wells. I could go on and on and on. I just love traditional country music. They saw that in me, and that’s real. That’s me. When this album came out, the people that know me, my friends, went, ‘There’s Kellie. There you are.’”

While she hasn’t decided whether she wants to sign with another major label or find an independent deal instead, Kellie remains clear about the direction of her career.

“There’s one place that I’ve always known I wanted to be, and that is on country radio,” the North Carolina native explains. “I don’t give a damn about being on any other format’s station. I respect it, but it ain’t me. I am a diehard country music fan. My life has been so inconsistent. I was tossed all over the place growing up, which I guess prepared me for the music business, but the one thing that has always been there, that has never ever left me, has been country music.”

Kellie remains on the road this summer and will play in California this week, followed by stops in Indiana, New York and New Jersey. Keep track of her tour schedule here. She’s also participating in the Hunger-Free Summer program, to ensure that children across the country get enough to eat when they’re not in school. Visit here to learn how you can help.

Watch Kellie Sing Live in Our Studio

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