- 04:25 AM, May 22
and practicing their song. ...I was very intimidated by everyone around me. And I looked at my grandpa and I stood up and said, 'Come on, Grandpa, let's go. There's no way in the world they're going to give me a second look!' And he said, 'Kellie, what have you got to lose?' And I said, 'You know what? Nothing. All I have to lose is that job at Sonic, so I'm just going to stay and wait it out'," Pickler recalled.
As it turned out, she was sent to Hollywood and advanced all the way to Top 12. Judge Simon Cowell took a liking at her, predicting that she would be in the final three. It was also her charming and bubbly personality that made her a favorite on the show. She was eliminated when the show's reached Top 6. Taylor Hicks went on winning the competition.
After her elimination, she appeared in numerous shows promoting the TV show including the annual "Idol" tour. She signed a record deal with 19 Recordings/BNA Records in 2006 and the first single, "Red High Heels", was ready to be launched in the third quarter of that year. The single's music video received a nomination for the CMT Video Awards for "Breakthrough Video of the Year". The debut album followed in October 2006 under the title "Small Town Girl".
In its first week, the album sold well over 79,000 copies, entering the Billboard Hot 200 chart at number nine. "Small Town Girl", which includes songs about her personal struggles, was certified gold in January 2007. She was nominated for Top New Female Vocalist at the 42nd Academy of Country Music Awards. She also toured that year with Brad Paisley, hitting at least 37 cities across North America and Canada.
Pickler received songwriter award at 2007 ASCAP Awards for co-writing "Red High Heels". She made a memorable performance at the 2007 CMA Awards when singing "I Wonder", a song about her difficult relationship with her mother. She was obviously distraught while singing and struggled to finish the song between tears. The performance received a standing ovation nevertheless.
Pickler returned to the studio for her second album with 19 Recordings. "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" was picked as the lead single, performed at the ACM Awards in May 2008 and released to radio a month later. She released a self-titled album in September that year.