Kellie Pickler’s Nashville success is nothing to sneeze at

David Heitz

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What’s a country girl to do when she has allergies?

When you’re a hot country superstar like Kellie Pickler, allergies can be a huge problem.

“I’ll end up looking emotional on stage,” Pickler told me in a telephone interview. “I’ll be singing a happy song and my eyes are watering, my allergies would get so bad.”

Now, Pickler says she turns to Flonase to control her allergies. She says Nashville is one of the worst places in the U.S. for allergies, with pollen dumping down onto the town “like a bowl.”

“If you’ve got a black car, it’s soon to be yellow,” said Pickler, who qualifies along with Kelly Clarkson as one of the darlings of “American Idol.”

Although Pickler did not emerge the winner of Season 5, like so many runners-up she has experienced great success.

She had her own reality shown on Country Music Television (CMT) called “I Love Kellie Pickler.”

In one episode, she decides she wants chickens for pets, much to the chagrin of her husband (who goes along anyway).

Her husband is allergic to almost everything.

An American Idol fan-atic myself

Back in my drinking days, I was known to “accidentally” trip over the juke box cord when someone dare play it while “American Idol” was on at the tavern.

I insisted all eyes focus on the big screen, and the sound system tune to Fox when “American Idol” came on.

Back in those days, I penned a column for the Quad-City Times called “Idol Chatter.”

One year, after Season 6 (the season after Pickler), I got to meet all the “Idol” finalists and conduct one-on-one interviews with them.

Sanjaya Malakar and Melinda Doolittle provided particularly interesting color during our chats. The winner that year was Jordin Sparks, who gushed to me about Paula Abdul.

Melinda Doolittle talked to me about painting her face green with Queen Helene mint mask after fans said she looked like Shrek.

Sanjaya Malakar and I discussed the many hairstyles he wore on the show.

“Idol” has a connection to my hometown, the Quad-Cities. “Idol” hair guru Dean Banowetz hails from DeWitt, Iowa.

No wonder Sanjaya’s hair made headlines. Banowetz bursts with personality. You can tell he loves his job. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, too.

The next year, a young man named Leo Marlowe from nearby Charlotte, Iowa, a tiny town near the Quad-Cities, made it to Hollywood. He had a few minutes of audition fame but did not land in the top 50. Still, I enjoyed reporting his journey.

Drowsiness an unwanted side effect for a performer

Back to Pickler’s chickens, I explained to Kellie that my friends Jim and Joe had a couple of chickens, Little and Peepers, but they died. She said one of hers died, too. She suggested they don’t have a long-life expectancy.

About then Kellie’s representatives on the conference call gave me a two-minute warning, so I asked a question drawing upon my own experience with allergies. As a performer, don’t other allergy medicines, particularly those in pill form, cause drowsiness?

Pickler said yes, they do.

“I’ve never had a side effect from Flonase. Some nasal sprays can make you drowsy, too. I’d look funny falling asleep on stage.”

“American Idol” had one of the most legendary runs in American television history. I told her I used to get goosebumps when Ryan Seacrest would say, “THIS is American Idol!”

She called the 15-season farewell special “a circus, but a good kind of crazy.”

Pickler predicted way back in 2016 that American Idol might be coming back.

And it is, this time on ABC. The season premier is Sunday, Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) at 7 p.m. Central.

Maybe I’ll write a primer.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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