ABOUT MIRANDA LAMBERT
Lambert is among the most popular and acclaimed singer-songwriters of country music’s modern era. She is the most awarded artist in the history of the Los Angeles-based Academy of Country Music, and the most awarded female artist in Country Music Association history. She is also a member of acclaimed group Pistol Annies with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley.
Since 2005, Lambert has released six albums that have gone on to achieve platinum certification. Her latest work, released in November 2016, is The Weight of These Wings, an expansive, challenging, creatively fulfilling set that was named Album of the Year by the ACM.
“We’re talking about someone who has been the CMA’s top female vocalist a record seven times, selling millions of albums and scoring hit after hit while retaining absolute artistic conviction and credibility. She writes her heart and sings her truth, and her truth resonates,” said museum CEO Kyle Young. “We are honored that she is this museum’s 15th artist-in-residence, the latest in a line of greats that includes some of Miranda’s own musical heroes, like Guy Clark, Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson, and Buddy Miller.”
“The history that the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum holds is so important,” said Miranda Lambert. “It’s truly an honor to be named artist-in-residence for the museum. I’m thankful for this place, where our music can continue to be cherished, and I’m thrilled to be among the esteemed artists who have been honored by this designation.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM SEPTEMBER 19 PERFORMANCE
With her cheeky humor and uncompromising artistry—and a long list of distinctive hits—Miranda Lambert regularly commands enormous arena stages in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans eager to cheer her and her music.
However, as she stepped out onto the stage of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s CMA Theater, in front of a sold-out crowd of less than 800, she admitted to struggling with some high anxiety. “I want to preface this show by saying, number one, I’m totally honored to be here,” she stated at the start of the first of two performances as the museum’s 2018 artist-in-residence. “I’m thrilled, and I’ve also been panicking for a couple of weeks about being here.”
The evening’s highlights included:
To their credit, Lambert and Moorer did not try to outsing one another, but instead inspired and complemented their mutual voices. The performance was a reminder of what a powerful performer and writer Moorer is—and how her lack of support from country radio a decade or two ago still seems like such a missed opportunity, or “one who got away.”
Lambert wrote this poignant song by herself and recorded it as a hauntingly powerful duet with Patty Loveless. For this performance, Lambert sat on a stool, accompanied only by her own acoustic guitar and by harmony vocalist Gwen Sebastian. The spare setting focused attention on the painful confession offered in the lyrics. A woman looks at the ring on her finger and confides a devastating secret that she has kept hidden from her husband, knowing she has broken the bond the expensive wedding ring represents. “Dear Diamond” and the hard truths it explores demonstrate perfectly why Lambert stands out among her peers in contemporary country music. Few country stars these days dare address real-life situations so boldly and directly, and with such bare artistry. This one-of-a-kind performance highlighted the song’s strengths in ways that can only be expressed live, in front of a room full of rapt listeners.
“Heart Like Mine”
On this night, Lambert was drawing strength, she said, from the words of Natalie Hemby, her friend and frequent co-writer. Hemby suggested to Lambert that she get inspiration from the ghosts floating through the air in a museum that celebrates and chronicles the careers of legendary country artists, many of whom inspired Lambert’s own groundbreaking work.
As the fifteenth artist-in-residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum—and, at age thirty-four, the youngest to undertake the role—Lambert joined an exclusive list of artists, many of whom created some of the most indelible music of the generation that preceded hers.
Established in 2003, the artist-in-residence series recognizes a musical master who can be credited with contributing a significant body of work to the canon of American popular music. Previous artists-in-residence, in order of their participation, include Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Connie Smith, Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Rosanne Cash, and Jason Isbell. The artist-in-residence honorees are given the museum’s stages to use as a blank canvas. The museum encourages the artists to step away from their usual concert presentation to create a unique musical experience—for themselves and for their audience.
Lambert embraced that charge. “I wanted to do something different,” she explained to the CMA Theater audience. “I’ve just finished two tours this year. I thought, ‘What could we do that would be challenging and interesting?’” She landed on the concept of performing songs that she wrote and
recorded but which, in most cases, had never become hits. Lambert rarely, if ever, had performed most of the set’s seventeen songs in concert, or had long ago removed them from her live repertoire. She even gave the concert a special name, calling it “The Ones That Got Away Show.”
Lambert invited four guests to join her on stage:
*Rick Lambert, her father, inspired Miranda’s love of country music and helped her write some of her earliest songs. Father and daughter performed their co-written “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere,” included by Miranda on her debut album, Kerosene, in 2005.
*Natalie Hemby, who has co-written more than twenty songs recorded by Lambert. They performed a few of those songs in the show, including “White Liar,” which was the first #1 hit for both when it was released in 2009.
*Ashley Monroe, one of Lambert’s partners in the trio Pistol Annies, and another favorite co-writer. She has contributed songs to all of Lambert’s albums since 2009’s Revolution.
*Allison Moorer, whom Lambert called a hero and major influence. Lambert told Moorer, after bringing her on stage, that Moorer’s song “A Soft Place to Fall,” released in 1998, was the first song Lambert sang before an audience. The two had never performed together prior to this concert.
Lambert did include some familiar hits in her set. This #1 song from 2011—written by Lambert with Monroe and Travis Howard—exemplifies Lambert’s fondness for songs that deal with breaking social mores in playful yet daring ways. Performed as a duet with Monroe—the duo has a spirited chemistry on stage—the song recounts the actions of a young woman who willfully thwarts the expectations of her family, her church, and her community in her determination to live as she desires. Ultimately, the singers suggest that Jesus would understand, and not condemn, the small rebellions. Lambert and Monroe traded mischievous glances and played off each other’s strutting stage moves, accentuating the liberating joy that acts of defiance can bring.
ABOUT THE ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE SERIES
Established in 2003, the museum’s artist-in-residence program honors a musical master who can be credited with contributing a large and significant body of work to the canon of American popular music. The artist-in-residence is invited to use the museum’s performance venues to create unique musical experiences.