Country music fans first got a look at Miranda Lambert's fiery tunes and feisty personality during the premiere episode of the TV singing competition Nashville Star in 2003. Though her performance made clear that the Lindale, Texas native was a force to be reckoned with, fans watching little knew what a major player she would come to be in country music.

It was early in her life, around the time of her stint on Nashville Star (and another talent contest that was at the time known as the True Value Country Showdown) that Lambert stepped foot in a Nashville recording studio for the first time. That experience didn't go well -- in fact, Lambert has said that she walked away crushed, describing the songs she cut as "awful" and "cheesy" -- but the budding country singer learned an important lesson about staying true to the kind of music closest to her heart.

In 2004, Lambert released her breakthrough debut album, Kerosene, and its eponymous smash hit single. While "Kerosene" wasn't the first track she shipped to country radio, it was the first to land in the Top 20. More importantly, it helped cement Lambert's place as a country music powerhouse that could hold her own, even next to legends such as Tammy Wynette and George Jones. A searing, world-weary revenge story about infidelity and (potentially) murder, "Kerosene" established the kind of fiery heartbreak song that came to be one of Lambert's calling cards.

Since then, the singer has continued, time and again, to dominate in a male-heavy country landscape. In 2018, she officially became the most-awarded artist in ACM Awards history when she took home the title of Song of the Year for her heartbreak ballad "Tin Man." With a record-setting 35 ACM trophies under her belt in total, Lambert has edged out Brooks & Dunn, with whom she was formerly tied for the distinction.

Flip through the photo gallery below for some of Lambert's biggest moments through the years:

This story was originally written by Stephen L. Betts, and revised by Liv Stecker and Carena Liptak.

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