Thirteen years ago this month, country fans got their first glimpse of a superstar in the making when Miranda Lambert made her nationwide TV debut on Nashville Star. Premiering March 8th, 2003, the singing competition aired on the USA Network and was country music’s (and cable television’s) answer to American Idol. After auditioning more than 800 hopefuls, the show’s judges narrowed that number down to the 12 featured throughout the first season.
In each episode, the contestants were introduced via a videotaped piece prior to their performance. Lambert’s clip in the fifth episode of her season shows her spending time with her parents, private investigators Rick and Beverly, and younger brother Luke, at their home in Lindale, Texas. She’s also seen playing guitar and talking with her dad about the song they wrote together, “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere,” which Lambert would be performing for the original songs-themed episode.
Lambert explains that her parents’ profession had exposed her to a lot of heartbreaking situations, and that “Greyhound” is “a song about a woman having an affair with a married person.” Noting that people “sometimes don’t take me seriously,” because she hadn’t faced a lot of tough times in her 19 years, Lambert — who has since married and divorced from Blake Shelton — would presumably not make that same claim today. The teenager notes rather sweetly that the song is “one of my favorite songs I’ve written, because my dad and I wrote it together.” The tune is one of two the father and daughter wrote together for her Epic Records debut LP Kerosene. The other — penned with Heather Little — was “Me and Charlie Talking,” which would be Lambert’s debut single in 2004.
Lambert’s impassioned debut performance of “Greyhound” was a huge hit with both the audience and the show’s three judges. Her fellow Texan (and soon-to-be label mate, albeit briefly) Charlie Robison praised the song for its vivid imagery and sad, “that’s just what country needs right now.” Longtime Nashville music journalist and author Robert K. Oermann said, “I just want America to know the reason we picked these people to be in this contest is because they are all writers, and America, you just heard one of the best of them right there.” Noting that she had heard three original songs all penned by Lambert, industry executive Tracy Gershon said, “I’ll buy the record right now,” to which the singer-songwriter replied, “Let’s make one!”
Lambert would finish third at the end of the show’s first season, behind winner Buddy Jewell and runner-up John Arthur Martinez, but she would in fact make a record in 2004, debuting at Number One with Kerosene when the album was released in March 2005.
Since that time, all five of Lambert’s LPs have debuted in the top spot and she is the only artist in CMA awards history to win Album of the Year twice, in 2010 for her third release, Revolution, and in 2015 for her latest LP, Platinum.