Only a few tickets remain for Kellie Pickler's return to The Ritz Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24. The country music artist and "Dancing with the Stars" champion will not have her dancing partner along for the performance this time, but Pickler hopes to pack the show with hits such as "Red High Heels," "Don't You Know You're Beautiful," "Best Days of Your Life" and "I Wonder."
In addition, she is to perform music from her new CD, "The Woman I Am," on the Black River Entertainment label.
Ritz marketing director Bruce Hannam said artists usually are not scheduled again so soon after a previous show, but the staff made an exception for Pickler. While completing the 2013-14 season, a couple of national acts had fallen through.
"We had very good success with her last year," Hannam said. "A couple of the board members said, 'What about bringing back Kellie Pickler?'"
When executive director Michael Strong learned she would be in Van Buren Jan. 25, he decided to request a side trip to Tiffin. Sales have been brisk ever since they went on sale in early November.
Last April, Pickler told the sold-out crowd she was wearing boots because they were the most comfortable footwear she could find at the time. Her feet were aching from so much dancing for the TV competition. Audience members also remember Pickler's promise to bring the dancing trophy back to Tiffin if she won.
Pickler recalled that performance but wasn't sure she could borrow the trophy.
"Oh yeah, that's right. It's actually at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I don't know if I'd be able to get it back before then. But I remember that show," Pickler said.
Fans of the singer know her compelling story of a small-town girl from a broken family who worked hard to become a popular performer and recording artist. She overcame adversity and humble beginnings to find success and fulfill one's dreams.
Pickler said music has been a refuge.
"Country music's always been there when I needed to celebrate the good times and when I needed to mourn the sad times. I think a great song is a great song. It doesn't matter what format or style it is," she said. "There's so much out there to choose from now. Everyone's way of getting music is so different now that I think sometimes you have to search for those songs that you need."
Her latest release features many of Nashville's best instrumentalists and songs by talented writers. Some were co-written by Pickler and her husband, Kyle Jacobs. The couple collaborated to write the album's title song.
As on Pickler's prior recordings, all the tracks concern events and people who have shaped her. She wrote "Selma Drye" in memory of her feisty great-grandmother. Other selections include her current single, "Little Bit Gypsy," "No Cure For Crazy," "Ring For Sale" and "I Forgive You."
The power of love to see people through difficult times is the theme of "Someone, Somewhere Tonight." The song's music video features Pickler with Derek Hough.
"We shot the video for that together. It was so sweet that he last-minute choreographed it," Pickler said.
When Jacobs is not writing songs or producing in the studio, he does travel with his wife. Pickler's schedule has included appearances at the Major League all-star game and television shows such as "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "The Tonight Show." For the "Country Music Association Country Christmas Special," she recorded "The Man with the Bag."
"I didn't write the song. It's actually an old Kay Starr song, an old jazz-country song. ... I love the song. It's different than all the typical country Christmas songs," Pickler said. "It's not on the new album, but it is on iTunes."
She also has performed for charitable causes, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, American Cancer Society and the Wounded Warrior Project. Last fall, Pickler received the USO's Heart for the Warrior Award, recognizing her
USO tours and support for the military.
"I just recently got back from my seventh USO tour. We were in Afghanistan for Christmas. It was pretty amazing. I met some incredible people, made some great friends and had fun shows. It was a wonderful experience," Pickler said. "I have family members who have served. My brother-in-law actually is in the Army, and I have a lot of friends who are serving overseas now. It's definitely personal. I think we all know someone or have a loved one who is serving now."
Tickets, ranging from $45-$75, are expected to sell out. Contact the box office, 30 S. Washington St., visit www.ritztheatre.org or call (419) 448-8544.