Kellie Pickler: American Idol Is Like Musical Boot Camp

Kellie Pickler burst onto the music scene as the down home girl from North Carolina who won over American Idol audiences more than seven years ago.

But now, after three popular albums and a move into other areas of the entertainment industry, Pickler is coming into her own as an artist and moving out of from her American Idol shell.

She appeared on Season 5 of American Idol, placing in the top 10 but finishing sixth. She has since gone on to release two albums that hit number one on the country charts.

She has toured with Taylor Swift, winning a number of CMT awards along the way and getting married to songwriter Kyle Jacobs.

This week she moves even further into her post-American Idol career, releasing a new album called The Woman I Am.

Pickler said the album will show her range as an artist, something American Idol didn’t really allow for.

“With American Idol, you develop backward as an artist because it’s more like a karaoke show where you’re singing cover songs from different genres that don’t necessarily fit you as an artist,” she told Newsday. “It’s almost like musical boot camp, but in a good way. You learn quickly about the touring process and the whole recording process.”

Kellie Pickler said people are sometimes surprised that she’s not still the innocent looking and sounding young girl from the show.

“People forget I was 19. I’d never been anywhere, I’d never sung before,” she said. “I wasn’t dumb, I was ignorant to anything outside of my surroundings. So I was experiencing all of these first-time things in front of everybody.”

Earlier this year, Pickler avenged her American Idol loss and redeemed her reality show career by winning the 16th season of Dancing With the Stars. She and partner Derek Hough beat out NFL player Jacoby Jones, Disney Channel star Zendaya, and former Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman.

The win demonstrated her versatility as a performer, but also showed that Kellie Pickler remains very popular with fans. Her win was based on equal parts of performance scores and fan votes.