Kellie Pickler is attracting attention right now for her moves on Dancing With the Stars, but the country singer tells Rolling Stone she is focused on making new music. "I'm bouncing from the dance studio to the recording studio, so hopefully my album will be ready to put out this fall," she said when we caught up with her at the Race to Erase MS benefit in L.A.
Pickler will release a new single, "Someone, Somewhere Tonight," next week. Expect plenty of country sounds on it, even though she's been spending time in Hollywood on DWTS. "It's country – it's Kellie country. I have that crying pedal steel. I grew up on traditional country," she said. "I grew up on Waylon [Jennings], Dolly [Parton] and Merle [Haggard] and George [Jones] and Tammy [Wynette] and Johnny [Cash] and June [Carter Cash]. I just love that era of country music."
Jones passed away April 26th at age 81, and for Pickler, the death of the country legend hit particularly hard. "I was devastated," she said. "We perform some of his songs in our set on the road, and actually 'White Lightning' is my Grandpa Pickler and I – that's our song. I do that in my shows, and I've always been a big George fan."
Would she consider recording one of his songs in tribute? "Absolutely. No one can fill his shoes, but I can definitely try to put my take on it, I guess."
While Pickler is doing some of her own writing for the forthcoming album, including collaborations with her husband Kyle Jacobs (who's written or co-written songs for Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins and Tim McGraw), the singer believes a good song is a good song, regardless of where it comes from.
"I've always been open to taking outside songs," she said. "There are so many talented songwriters, and I think there are millions of songs in Nashville that are classic hits that are just sitting on a shelf collecting dust and people need to hear them. I love digging way back into old catalogs and whatnot, and finding those hidden gems."