Music

Miranda Lambert: Country's rebel girl grows up

Four albums in, the rowdy Nashville upstart has become an undisputed star. Here, she talks music, mayhem, and life with new husband Blake Shelton

You can’t just go bow hunting on any old street. That’s what Miranda Lambert learned while touring in advance of her latest album, Four the Record. During a recent stop in Chicago, the 28-year-old Texas native decided to do a little preshow target practice, shooting arrows in the alleyway behind Joe’s Bar — and ended up scaring one bystander half to death.

Please forgive her, random terrified stranger. It’s been only four years since she got her first bow, a present from her now husband Blake Shelton, 35, the charming country singer and judge of NBC’s singing competition The Voice. She’s still getting the hang of the etiquette behind the sport. ”One time I took some shots with my bow inside the place where I was playing,” she says as she kicks back on the couch at the Tennessee headquarters of her record label, RCA Nashville. ”But some guy told me that’s against the law or something?”

Such are the problems plaguing the angel-faced rebel gal whom Esquire magazine once named ”Terrifying Woman of the Year.” After taking third place on the Idol-esque talent show Nashville Star in 2003, Lambert achieved cult-heroine status with songs about owning her scorned-womanhood (”Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and literally burning for love (”Kerosene”). But it was 2009’s breakthrough Revolution that made her a bona fide star, not just for her tales of turning the tables on her cheating man (”White Liar”) but also for the softer you-can’t-go-home-again ballad ”The House That Built Me,” which earned Lambert her first Grammy. Now even her side projects, like the recent Hell on Heels, the debut from her all-female trio Pistol Annies, bow in Billboard’s top five.

Sporting a Merle Haggard trucker cap and mixing up another ”Mirandarita” in a plastic cup (her recipe: Crystal Light raspberry lemonade, a shot of Bacardi, and a splash of Sprite Zero), the 5’4” singer looks exactly like the little blond outlaw on which she’s built her multiplatinum persona. Taylor Swift she ain’t. On Four the Record, she’s still bragging about loading her gun for a joyride (”Fastest Girl in Town”) and threatening an ex with arson (”Mama’s Broken Heart”). But at a time when country music is dominated by middle-aged men in cowboy hats and girlish waifs with role-model-worthy messages, Lambert’s the rare top-tier talent whose music is aimed at full-grown women. And her followers, the ”Ran Fans,” love her for that.

So does Shelton. Asked what separates Lambert from other high-profile country singers, he quips, ”The fact that Miranda doesn’t give a crap about being a high-profile singer.”

Originally posted November 4 2011 — 12:00 AM EDT

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