Miranda Lambert’s childhood home sits along a country road in Lindale, Texas, 90 miles east of Dallas.
When you pull up to the house, the dogs rush to greet you just about as quickly as Miranda’s mother and father Rick and Bev, whose enthusiastic “come on in” echoes through the open front door on the raised wraparound porch.
The house, built in 1931, wasn’t the one Miranda Lambert famously sang about in her No. 1 hit “The House That Built Me,” but it was the one the star lived in from the time she was 14 until she left for Nashville with a dream, and it played a big role in rebuilding her once broken family.
The road to superstardom for the outspoken girl from East Texas who said she was once “so shy teachers called her mom with concern” hasn’t been an easy or simple one. In fact, it’s got all the makings of a good country song.
Her family’s been broke. More than once. And homeless.
Her parents, who once investigated a president, admit they are church-goers who “drink and cuss,” but they’re loved for their authenticity and they’ve helped dozens of abused women and children through the years.
And even after losing everything and bouncing back, the couple gambled it all again, betting on their daughter’s success. And boy did that pay off!
Miranda Lambert is the most awarded female musician in the history of country music, and while she’s a worldwide star, if you ask her, she’ll tell you she’ll always be just a small town girl from Texas.
“Small towns instill values that stick with you throughout your life. I think growing up in Lindale gave me a strong foundation,” Miranda tells Modern Texas Living.
“There’s a comfort and familiarity there.”
Lindale became home for the Lamberts when Miranda was 6, but not by choice.
Rick and Bev were private investigators with a lucrative business in Dallas until the oil crash in the late 80’s hit Texas hard and the family lost everything. They found themselves homeless until a family member in Lindale offered to give them a place to stay.
They had a roof over their heads, but the times were tight.
For two weeks, Rick remembers, “we had peanut butter and crackers in the house to eat and that was it.”
“For Christmas that year I asked for food,” Bev added. “We were hungry and had two children.”
The Lamberts eventually scraped up the money to move out and into their own home down the street in Lindale for $275 a month.
“We called it the house from hell,” Rick said. “It had rats even our cats were scared of.”
That time period is still hard for the Lamberts to talk about. Rick says he was “a dangerous man,” angry, depressed and suicidal as he worked 20 hours a day, often sleeping on the floor of his office, but still not able to provide for his family.
Even in the darkest days, Bev had her eyes set on a big old white frame house that she passed every day on her drive home to the “house from hell.”
“I would hang my hand out the window and say ‘If You could just give me that house. If I could just live there.’ I would just hang my hand out and claim it,” she said.
And someone must have heard her cry, because one day a knock at the door changed it all for the struggling family.
“A little old man in overalls comes up to the house of horrors,” Bev said. “He said ‘are you the lady that drives by my pasture every day? I see you’ve fixed this little place up real nice.’ And I said ‘yes sir, best I could.’ And he said ‘would you consider renting my place? And I was like ‘do I hear angels singing?’ I told him I paid only $275 a month at this house and he said ‘how about we do $250,’ and I said ‘how about you give me a five-year lease?’”
She got the lease, and when Miranda was 7, the family moved into what’s known today by millions of country music fans as the house that built Miranda Lambert, although if you ask her parents, they’ll tell you it’s the house that built the whole family.
“That’s where the real healing took place,” Bev said through tears.
And it’s where Miranda began to fall in love with the music that would make her a household name.
Miranda’s parents knew she could sing by the time she was three when she barely knew the words, but could sing harmony to Marie Osmond’s “Meet Me in Montana.”
Her dad bought her first guitar when she was 8, but it wasn’t until a few years later she got interested enough to play it.
“I decided to pick it up and my dad taught me my first chords, three to be exact,” Miranda said. “That’s about all you need for country music.”
“I don’t consider myself a singer, but I told her how to play guitar and taught her how to write a song,” Rick remembers.
When Miranda was a teenager her parents’ private investigations business caught a break—a high-profile case that would give the family a much-needed financial boost.
Bev and Rick were hired by the lawyers for Paula Jones to investigate Bill Clinton as part of his impeachment investigation.
Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, sued Clinton for sexual harassment in May 1994 and ultimately won an $850,000 settlement, although Clinton’s attorney maintained her claims were baseless.
The money they made from that case gave them just enough to purchase their first home since hitting rock bottom, and not long after, Miranda spread her wings musically, hitting the road to sing at the age of 16.
She finished her last year of high school in an alternative setting so she could focus on her career.
Bev and Rick laugh when asked if they remember where it all began.
“Everything,” Bev said. “We were right in the middle of it all. We were her start. I basically quit being a PI to be her booking agent and her manager, or “momager.”
“I was her driver, her guitar player, her merchandise guy and her road manager,” Rick said.
“My mom drove me around to gigs and helped me drop off my music at radio stations. They put everything they had into helping me make this dream come true,” Miranda said.
Everything. Including their last dollar, again.
“For the good or the bad I guess I’ll let the cat out of the bag,” Bev said. “We spent every penny we had on her. We were subject to being homeless again.”
Miranda played in every honky tonk that would have her, opening for such Texas acts as Kevin Fowler, Cooder Graw and Jack Ingram. But Bev recalls being turned down by many just because Miranda was a girl.
“Oh, it was a boys’ club all the way,” Rick added.
Miranda’s big breakthrough came by way of a now fellow Grammy-award-winning singer who grew up just 12 miles down the road in Mineola, Kacey Musgraves.
Musgraves’ grandmother was a friend of the Lamberts and told them about a new reality show in which Kacey was still too young to compete called “Nashville Star.”
Miranda’s mom drove her to the audition in Dallas where she says her daughter didn’t exactly give it her best shot.
“She said ‘well I tried.’ She sat in the back on the way home. She had brought a boy along for the ride and I think she thought sitting in the back with him was safer than in the front with me. I was so mad. I was like ‘you half-assed me.’ She said ‘I didn’t half-ass you.’ I was like ‘no you half-assed me. When we were broke I still threw you the best birthday party I could throw. When I take you town to town to town I do the best job I can do. You half-assed me and I’ve never done that to you. Don’t ever do that to me again.'”
And Miranda didn’t.
She went to the next audition a month later in Houston and blew the judges away, earning a spot on the nationally televised show where she came in third and more importantly caught the attention of Nashville executives.
“We walked in the bar in Houston and she looked like 10 million dollars,” Bev said. “She picked up her guitar and I’m not joking when I say she walked in and the crowd parted. She went to win.”
Lambert’s star has never stopped rising since.
In 2005, she released her first major-label debut album Kerosene, which was certified platinum and produced the single “Me and Charlie Talking,” co-written with Rick, who said he still receives royalty checks in the mail to this day for the song he penned 15 years ago with his daughter.
But beyond the guitar lessons and road trips, Miranda said the best thing her parents offered her was sound advice.
“The best advice my mom ever gave to me was to know who you are and stick with it. In the beginning of my music career, when we were early on in the record label days, my dad told me to ‘sit at the head of the table and tell them what you want to be.’ He told me not to let them turn me into anything that I didn’t want to be and I haven’t. The fact that people have accepted me in every state and every phase, is a blessing, but I think it’s because my songs reflect who we all are.”
Photo by Jamie Wright
Miranda’s international success has earned her more than 70 prestigious awards and honors.
She’s the most decorated artist in the history of the Academy of Country Music with 34 ACM awards including nine Female Vocalist of the Year wins as well as ACM Song of the Decade for “The House That Built Me.”
The ACM also presented her with the Gene Weed Milestone Award in 2019.
Lambert has 12 Country Music Television wins and 32 nominations, 13 CMA awards, two Grammy awards and was named the 2019 Recording Industry Association of America’s Artist of the Year.
And it doesn’t stop there. Lambert became only the 15th Artist in Residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Symphony honored her with its Harmony Award.
Her parents say she’s too shy to show off her accolades to anyone and, in fact, she keeps them pretty much out of view, even in her own home in Nashville. But, they say, she has used her star power to help out many people, including those in her hometown.
Lambert opened a boutique in the heart of downtown Lindale called the The Pink Pistol which brings in thousands of visitors a year.
“For me, opening The Pink Pistol wasn’t just about opening a store, it was about revitalizing the town where we opened the store,” Miranda said. “That’s one reason why we don’t sell anything online. I want people to come to my hometown and see all it has to offer. My mom will tell me stories of people they meet that have visited the store from all around the country. That is really special to me.”
In the corner of the Pink Pistol, you’ll find a wine tasting room for Red 55 Winery, a winery on the Lambert’s property in Lindale, which started as a small idea and grew into something much bigger.
“The winery started as a novelty and it’s grown into an industry which we’re so proud of,” Bev said. “We’re now in 28 states and have an online store and a tasting room. We were not expecting it, but what a welcomed gift that is.”
And it’s a venture Miranda has welcomed with open arms.
“Friends, family, wine and music have always been a big part of my family’s traditions,” Miranda said. “My mom and dad wanted to start the wine line, and it just felt right.”
Miranda has also used her celebrity to help Waco native Wade Bowen. She sang harmony vocals on his recent song “So Long 6th Street” and supported his annual hometown benefit MusicFest.
Last summer, Rick and Bev attended the all-day event and appeared on stage where they offered up auction items, including a guitar autographed by Miranda to benefit the Bowen Family Foundation.
“I’ve known Wade for years. He and I played a lot of shows together when we were both starting out. He is like family to us, a sweetheart and great singer/songwriter,” Miranda said. “I believe in what they are doing. Texans have a certain bond and pride. We always want to support each other’s causes.”
Miranda’s passion is improving the lives of shelter pets, which led her and her mom to found “MuttNation” in 2009, a non-profit to help shelter pets.
“When you get to a certain place in your career, you have to decide what to use your platform for and I knew right away that I wanted mine to be shelter pets,” Miranda said. “My parents brought me home from the hospital and there was a yellow lab sleeping under my crib. My entire life I’ve always had at least one dog around. Growing up, we lived way out in the country and there were always stray dogs around that my parents would let me keep. It was just part of my blood to care for rescue pets.”
On Lambert’s current Wildcard tour she’s asking fans to fill little red wagons with pet supplies or toys for a chance to win a meet and greet with the singer.
This tour will look a little different because the country crooner has her husband of one year in tow.
Miranda surprised the world when she announced that she was married in January 2019 to New York cop, Brendan McLoughlin, whom she met after a friend spotted him working security during a “Good Morning America” appearance Miranda was making as part of the group “Pistol Annies.”
Lambert’s pals invited Brendan to her show that evening during which, Bev tells us, she sat with him in the audience and the rest is history.
“Miranda is the happiest she’s ever been. I think she’s met the match that’s going to last like our marriage for 40 years,” Bev said, beaming.
When not touring, Miranda splits her time between a home in New York she purchased after her marriage, a home in Austin where she spends time with her younger brother, the IT guy for her brand along with his partner, and, of course, her home in Tennessee.
“My safe haven is my farm in Nashville,” Miranda tell us. “I can go there and be surrounded by my animals. It’s great because they don’t know what I do for a living, and just love me for me.”
Oddly enough, she says, growing up in a small town actually prepared her for life in the public eye.
“Living in a small town everyone knows everyone’s business. In a lot of ways, that’s very similar to living in the public eye. People are always interested in every aspect of your life,” she said.
Lambert said if she were to write a letter to her younger self, she’d tell her to remember, through the ups and downs, all would be OK.
“In the beginning I had a lot to prove. I came out guns-a-blazing with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder,” Miranda said. “It’d be nice to be able to tell my younger self that it was all going to work out.”
The singer hopes in time she’ll be remembered as much more than a hit maker.
“I guess as someone who took risks, both musically and personally. And someone who was an animal advocate. Most importantly a good friend, daughter, sister, wife and stepmom. Those are the things that really matter—the memories you leave with the people you love.”
Memories that for this 36-year-old superstar started with a dream as a teenager in a house in a town of 6,000 in East Texas.
“I’m grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had, getting to travel around and sing, but my roots will never change. I love that Lindale will always be my home.”