In the Spotlight: Miranda Lambert

Straight-talking Texas girl has found fame by staying true to herself.

ByABC News
November 3, 2010, 12:24 PM

Nov. 3, 2010— -- Nov. 10 will be a very big night for Miranda Lambert.

Not only is it her 27th birthday, it's also the night of the Country Music Awards, and Lambert is going into the CMA's with a record nine nominations, including Best Album and Entertainer of the Year.

"I don't think it's really even hit me yet that I have nine nominations and it's history making," Lambert told Robin Roberts. "I sometimes think if I sit down and see it on paper, I'm going to get overwhelmed."

Roberts caught up with the hottest star in country music over some down-home cooking at Hill Country Barbecue in New York City. It was a taste out of Lambert's childhood growing up in rural Texas.

She had an unusual upbringing as the daughter of two private investigators who sometimes struggled to pay the bills.

"I had a great childhood," Lambert said. "My family is awesome."

But in some ways, she acknowledged, "that was a crazy life ... and I wasn't sheltered from it."

Her parents brought home tales of custody battles and bitter divorce cases and on occasion the Lamberts sheltered battered women and their children.

It all made a lasting impression on young Miranda, and later informed her songwriting. One of her biggest hits, "Gunpowder & Lead," tells the story of an abused woman seeking vengeance.

"I started writing songs at 17," she said. "So what experience did I have to write about? So I just used what I had seen in life, what I had seen my parents go through. We had some hard times."

The hardest of those times came when Lambert was about six years old.

"We were homeless," she told Roberts. "It sounds weird to say it now because we're so blessed."

But at the time, her parents' business had dropped off and they fell behind on house payments.

"The next thing you know," she said, "the banker's coming, saying, 'I need the keys.' "

The family moved in with relatives, then found an old house in Lindale, Texas, on the verge of being torn down, and talked the owner into letting them live there in exchange for fixing it up.

"Some of the windows were boarded up, and we never did get central heat," Lambert recalled, laughing. "So when you had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you had to run, because it was freezing!"

Room by room, her parents made it a home. They planted a big garden, hunted game, and provided most of their own food.

Even Lambert's more well-off friends loved to hang out there.

Miranda Lambert: 'The House That Built Me'

That home still seems to be where her heart is.

One of the most powerful songs on Lambert's CMA-nominated album, "Revolution," is a ballad called, "The House That Built Me."

Lambert didn't write the song, but as soon as she heard it, she knew she had to make it her own. Her rendition is nominated for song, video and single of the year.

"I know they say you can't go home again," she sings. "I just had to come back one last time."

The song showcases a softer, gentler and more mature side of the fiery singer, whose sometimes angry lyrics prompted Esquire magazine to name her the "Most Terrifying Woman of the Year" in 2008.

"I feel like I've started to grow up and be more of a woman instead of this crazy girl," she told Roberts. "I sort of feel settled, so I'm kind of ready to move to the next step in life."

Lambert is looking forward to settling down with her fiance, the country music star Blake Shelton.

They'll be a real power couple at the Country Music Awards. In addition to Lambert's nine nominations, Shelton is nominated for four CMAs himself.

The couple is planning a spring wedding.

"I'm really fortunate that I found someone that so gets me," Lambert said. "He just keeps me laughing."