Kellie Pickler's latest album, The Woman I Am, is the one the singer admits she is most proud of. She calls it strong and reminiscent of the women in her own family.
"It's in my bloodline," Pickler told CMT Hot 20 Countdown. "I know all the women on my father's side of the family, and just looking down through the family tree ... I have strong women in my family from my great-great grandma Hall to my great-grandma Drye to my grandma Faye that raised me. My aunts, my cousins, we got some strong girls, some strong females in our family, and we've all had to create something from nothing."
In an industry with a heavy curve toward a more progressive pop or rock country sound, Pickler also stayed strong to her own personality on the album.
"I think you just have to figure out what your motives are and what's gonna make you happy," she said. "I don't think you should change who you are to fit in, and I'm not gonna change the style of music that I want to make. I'm gonna make my sound, and I'm gonna do my thing. And if you're on board, choo-choo. And if you're not, then choo-choo. This train's gonna keep on rolling with or without you."
Just as country music itself is ever evolving, so is the country audience, and Pickler wishes more fans in this smartphone era would enjoy the moment during concerts, taking away more lasting memories than photos.
"It blows my mind," she revealed. "It's like you're looking at the world through a lens. Put your phone down and look [around] and be in the moment. People don't live in the moment anymore. People don't live for right now.
"I think, too, it can be a distraction," she continued. "I know for me, it's always a distraction when you're doing these intimate shows where it's just you and a few acoustic players in this small room, and it's like, 'OK, here's my chance to make eye contact with you, and we're going to have a conversation.' I don't want to talk to your phone, I want to talk to you."
For more, tune in to CMT Hot 20 Countdown this Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 26-27) at 11 a.m. ET/PT. Next week, go to kelliepickler.cmt.com to stream Pickler's The Woman I Am album.