(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Back when Kelly Clarkson was on American Idol in 2002, there was no such thing as country week on the show. There was Motown week and big band week, but no country. (Even though I do remember someone singing John Michael Montgomery‘s “I Swear,” which I was just biased enough to love.) Clarkson was the winner of that first season, but she lost the fight for a country week. “I was born and raised in Texas, and I’ve always been a huge country music fan. In fact, when I was on the first season of American Idol, I begged them to do a country week, but they didn’t do that until the second season,” she said in a press release about her new country take on her pop hit “Mr. Know It All.” She added that what really inspires her as an artist are the sassy female vocalists of country music like Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. “Their soulful grit captivates me,” she said. She’s also inspired by the lyrics. “As a songwriter, lyrics are really important to me. Even when I was a little girl singing into my hairbrush in my room, pretending I was on a stage, the lyrics were what I really paid attention to. I was only 16 years old when I wrote ‘Because of You’ and, sadly enough, that song is a true story,” she said. If you can write heartbreakers like that as a teenager, I say, welcome to Nashville.