“Stop and smell the roses” is an idiom many are well acquainted with. Ever so often, it is used to describe the moment when a busy person takes time to enjoy the finer, more important things in life. And for country star Kellie Pickler, this idiomatic expression best encapsulates her life over the past year.
The acclaimed singer, songwriter, actress and TV personality has been largely out of the spotlight since her talk show, Pickler & Ben, sunsetted in 2019. Outside of the airing of two Hallmark movies that year (Wedding At Graceland and The Mistletoe Secret) and her selfless work for the troops as USO Global Ambassador, the songstress has been laying low—but for a good reason.
Much like the rest of the world, Pickler has spent the past year riding out the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit in a personally therapeutic fashion. Instead of being cooped up indoors, the singer has been nourishing her soul through quality time in her backyard.
“I call it ‘dirt therapy,’ which is having your hands and feet in the dirt planting and being one with the earth and nature. It’s been really refreshing,” the gardening aficionado tells Sounds Like Nashville on Zoom, from her home in Music City.
Pickler is no stranger to being actively busy. “You know me, I love to work,” she quickly admits with a laugh. Since jumping into the limelight on American Idol in 2006, the bubbly and affable singer has worn many hats, built her brand, and now boasts a remarkable career résumé.
Spanning across the last 15 years, the “small town girl” has released four studio albums, won season 16 of Dancing With The Stars, starred and executive produced CMT’s I Love Kellie Pickler, voiced a character on Veggie Tales, collaborated with the Grand Ole Opry for a home-goods line called Selma Drye, co-hosted the talk show Pickler & Ben, acted in three Hallmark movies, and everything in between. While the talented Pickler has soared in her profession, there was hardly any concentrated time to unwind between the creative endeavors. As one project wrapped, it was time to saddle up and embark on the next.
Thus, hitting pause this past year has been an opportune gift for the Albemarle, North Carolina native, who says that she feels “extremely blessed” despite the challenges faced.
“I know that this has been tough for a lot of people for so many reasons. But I just feel blessed to have the stillness to pay attention to things [that I may have missed when I’m] pulled in a 100 different directions by a 100 different people at the same time,” Pickler shares with a warm smile. “It is imperative that I make sure my roots are in solid ground, and they run deep and true.”
Reflecting further, the “Tough” singer hopes that the pandemic and past year of lockdown has bestowed everyone with the chance to take stock of things that matter the most.
“I hope that this has been an opportunity for people to use this time wisely. I feel that we can always be a little bit better today than what we were yesterday. We can look at the bad or we can see the good, and the good is that hopefully this is a reset for people to keep their feet on solid ground and take time to be present,” notes the 34-year-old.
Pickler’s steadfast belief in living a purposeful life is most evident in her magnanimous efforts to support the military men and women across the world. To date, she has completed a total of 12 USO Tours and visited 13 international locations. In fact, a holiday tradition for the benevolent country singer and her songwriter/producer husband Kyle Jacobs has always been to bring home to those making the ultimate sacrifice overseas by spending Christmas with them, whenever possible.
“The USO has really been a sanctuary for me and for all of the people that I’ve met on these travels,” says the ardent USO Global Ambassador. “They have enabled me to be a part of something that matters.”
Looking ahead, Pickler has some exciting ideas and plans lined up, including a potential Broadway opportunity. But, how soon till they see the light of day? That depends on the pandemic situation across the country.
“I would love to do Broadway! There’s offers there, but we obviously got to wait and see what each state has [with] different protocols and regulations. So, we’re just really waiting to get that green light, but I’m ready to hit the road.”
On the television front, Pickler, whose first film with Hallmark, Christmas At Graceland, was the most watched Hallmark Channel telecast of 2018 and the 4th highest rated and most watched Hallmark Channel Original Movie in the network’s history, says she is eager to display her acting chops again.
“I would love to do another Hallmark film. Hallmark has been so good to me,” she tells us with excitement. “The opportunities and offers are there, but we got to wait and make sure that we’re following all the protocols here in the US. So, hopefully sooner than later!”
Of course, the number one question avid fans have: when is Kellie Pickler releasing new music?
While nothing is imminent quite yet, the “Red High Heels” and “Best Days Of Your Life” singer says she has penned some songs over quarantine and is excited to roll out music that will be a blessing and beacon of light for everyone who hears it.
“My husband Kyle and I have been writing. He’s been working so hard producing [music for other artists] and whatnot. We’re ready to get back in the studio and put new music out that will heal and help people.”
Until then, don’t bet on Pickler broadcasting her life on social media or making the next viral TikTok video. She’s just enjoying being a green thumb, working selflessly with the USO, and spending quality time with Jacobs and those she calls “family.”
“Everybody’s gotta make a living,” Pickler adds, “But like the Dolly quote, ‘Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.’ There’s a difference, you know?”