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After ‘Idol’ and ‘Dancing,’ Kellie Pickler comes into her own

Robert Ascroft

When Kellie Pickler was asked which of her songs defines who she is, she realized she hadn’t written it yet.

She promised the interviewer that she would and she did, resulting in the title track of her forthcoming album “The Woman I Am,” out Nov. 11. Apparently, she’s a woman who drinks her coffee black, cries along with Patsy Cline, and curses when warranted.

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On the phone from a Roanoke, Va., tour stop Pickler laughs and says, “I have to track this guy down and tell him it really inspired the album. He’s on the Christmas card list!”

As she did on 2012’s “100 Proof,” Pickler also proved the woman she is loves country music. “That was my friend growing up, it never left me, it never abandoned me, or walked out on me,” says the North Carolina native. “It was always there when I needed to celebrate the good times or mourn the sad times. It was always there.”

We recently chatted with the former “American Idol” contestant and “Dancing With the Stars” champ, who plays the Chevalier Theatre on Friday, about the new album.

Q. You shifted with your last album “100 Proof” into a real traditional country direction which felt more suited to your identity and your voice. It feels like “The Woman I Am” is the natural continuation of that.

A. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous because obviously, you can look at the charts and see, “100 Proof” didn’t sell a lot, but that’s not why I do this. I feel like I’ve played the part in the past and I did what I had to do at the time, and I had to answer to a lot of different people, but I’ve creatively had the freedom to go in the studio on “100 Proof” and this record and just make a great record. I just want to sing. To me it’s not about being number one. You don’t have to sell a million records to have an impact on people. I think when you start doing it for those [commercial] reasons it’s like, where’s the heart in it?

Q. For instance, “Selma Drye,” your ode to your hell-raising great-grandmother, couldn’t have existed on the first two records. Did that song come quickly?

A. Yeah, it was really great. I wrote that song with two of my friends, Billy Montana and Phillip Lammonds. We were out on a writer’s retreat at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and we were sitting on a porch swing at an old cabin in the mountains and I started talking about her. And Phillip looked at me and said, “What was her name?” And I said “Selma Drye” and he said, “If that ain’t country I don’t know what is.”

Q. And if that one is more traditional, “Bonnie and Clyde” feels more contemporary.

A. The only place I’ve ever wanted to be was on country radio, because that’s what I grew up listening to. But you have to find that happy medium where you can get your song on the radio so that people will go, “OK Kellie has a new album out” and then they get the album and they hear all the traditional songs. It’s kind of like bait. (Laughs.) It’s like my worm I’m casting out and I can reel them in and they can hear the country tracks.

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.
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