Kellie Pickler plays free LI concert for fundraising

Kellie Pickler performs at the Emporium in Patchogue

Kellie Pickler performs at the Emporium in Patchogue on Oct. 28, 2013. (Undated) (Credit: Handout)

Kellie Pickler has come a long way from the green North Carolina country girl who learned about "calamary" on "American Idol" in 2006, where she finished sixth. Since then, Pickler has been on a roll -- touring with Taylor Swift, releasing three successful albums, marrying songwriter Kyle Jacobs in 2011 and racking up three CMT Awards. And there was also that win on "Dancing With the Stars" in May.

Pickler, 27, hopes her winning streak continues with her new album, "The Woman I Am," which drops Nov. 11. She'll be performing songs from the new disc Monday night at The Emporium in Patchogue at a fundraiser for LI2Day Breast Cancer Research & Awareness. (Tickets can only be had by listening to My Country WJVC/96.1FM.) Pickler shared her thoughts on "Idol" and her career.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from your experience on "American Idol"?

With "American Idol," you develop backwards as an artist because it's more like a karaoke show where you're singing cover songs from different genres that don't necessarily fit you as an artist. It's almost like musical boot camp, but in a good way. You learn quick about the touring process and the whole recording process. I signed a record deal and then found myself as an artist.

From "Idol," people probably thought of you as a ditsy blonde. Are people surprised when they meet you and discover that's not who you are?

People forget I was 19. I'd never been anywhere, I never sung before. I wasn't dumb, I was ignorant to anything outside of my surroundings. So I was experiencing all of these first-time things in front of everybody.

Why did you give your costume and trophy from "Dancing With the Stars" to the Country Music Hall of Fame?

They called and asked if they could have it, and I said, 'Sure, why not?' We don't display our awards at home. If you walked into our home, you wouldn't even know we're in the music business. I didn't want have a shrine to Kellie Pickler.

Did Taylor Swift give you any advice while you toured together?

Not really. We both started out at the same time, our first albums came out a week apart. We have different audiences for sure. I couldn't get out there and do what she does because that's not me. I'm more of a honky-tonk kind of gal. My grandparents raised me, and I grew up with very traditional country music. I wasn't as cool as the other kids because my music was old.

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