At age 19, this perky small-town waitress from North Carolina auditioned for Season 5 of American Idol. With her all-American good looks and harrowing sob story (her mom was MIA and her dad was in jail), she soon won over audiences while showcasing a powerhouse voice and charming naiveté (she routinely mispronounced words). She also found a fan in judge Simon Cowell, who predicted she would see the competition through to the end. She didn't win, but finished sixth and landed a record deal. Her first album of country music was the appropriately titled Small Town Girl, released in October 2006. A self-titled album followed in 2008, debuting at No. 9 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and spawning a number of hit singles including "Best Days of Your Life." Pickler has performed on several USO tours and supports the Memphis-based St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Fast Facts

  • Won the 2004 Miss Stanly County Pageant and moved on to the Miss North Carolina Pageant, becoming its youngest competitor at age 17.
  • Was a roller-skating waitress at a Sonic restaurant when she auditioned for Season 5 of American Idol.
  • Never flew in a plane until her trip to Hollywood to appear on American Idol. 
  • Upon her return home to Albermarle, NC, in May 2006, she was greeted by thousands of well-wishers, including her estranged father, ex-con Clyde "Bo" Pickler.
  • Was a bridesmaid at Katharine McPhee's February 2, 2008 wedding to Nick Cokas.
  • Has performed on several USO tours.
  • Gave up eating meat in 2008 and was named Sexiest Vegetarian Alive (female) by PETA in 2009.
  • Ranked No. 5 on Forbes' 2009 list of American Idol top earners.
  • Actively supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and has visited the patients there.


  • 2012, CMT Music Awards — Female Video of the Year: Nominee
  • 2008, CMT Music Awards — Tearjerker Video of the Year: Winner
  • 2010, CMT Music Awards — Collaborative Video of the Year: Nominee
  • 2008, CMT Music Awards — Breakthrough Video of the Year: Winner
  • 2007, CMT Music Awards — Breakthrough Video of the Year: Nominee
  • 2009, CMT Music Awards — Female Video of the Year: Nominee
  • 2008, CMT Music Awards — Performance Video of the Year: Winner


  • Jordin Tootoo — Ex-significant Other
  • Kyle Jacobs — Husband
  • Cynthia Morton — Mother
  • Eric — Brother
  • Ken Morton — Grandfather
  • Clyde 'Bo' Pickler Jr. — Father
  • Clyde Pickler Sr. — Grandfather
  • Faye Pickler — Grandmother


  • Attended Stanly Community College, Albemarle, NC


  • Birth Name: Kellie Dawn Pickler
  • Birth Place: Albemarle, NC
  • Profession: Singer, Reality-show contestant

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