Holly Gleason, Pollstar’s Senior Contributing Editor extraordinaire, venerated music journalist and brilliant music biz polymath, has written Pollstar cover stories on everyone from the late, great John Prine to Country Music Hall of Famer Ronnie Milsap and seminal Southern country rockers Alabama, as well as rising stars like Whiskey Myers, Old Dominion and Midland. But where she perhaps shines most is profiling brilliant, talented and powerful women (takes one to know one), including Carrie Underwood, Mickey Guyton, P!nk, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton and yes, Miranda Lambert. Gleason’s penchant for these stories is fully realized in her indispensable 2017 book “Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives.” Gleason has just co-written a new book with Lambert entitled “Y’ALL EAT YET? Welcome to the Pretty B*tchin Kitchen” (April 25, HarperCollins), for which we caught up with her – never an easy thing with this constant traveler – to find out more about her latest project.
Pollstar: How does a superstar like Miranda, an active recording and touring artist, even begin to write a book?
Holly Gleason: Very few people work harder than Miranda. Between opening a restaurant, bar, performance space on Lower Broadway, a homewares line called Wanda June for Walmart, creating a massive Las Vegas residency show, releasing Palomino to great reviews and a summer tour with Little Big Town, she carved out dedicated chunks of time to work on the book. She came to Florida and hid out. Those trips she spent deep-diving into what the story was that she really wanted to tell.
Is it all about “home entertaining” and recipes?
Oh, my goodness, no! It hits so many things: intergenerational female friendship – and how that shaped the woman she became, the reality of chasing the music dream as a total outsider and how those friendships sustain and inspire you, the fun her family could create with little to nothing. And, honestly, it’s a love letter to her mom Beverly and her mom’s mother, Wanda. You see every stage of Miranda’s life, how much those women meant to her and believed in her.
Let’s go back to the food.
Well, it’s pretty simple, home cooking. But it’s campfire stuff for glamping or tubing on the Guadalupe River; birthday parties and trashy ho bridal/baby showers; Potini bars and getting real at breakfast. It’s also her Airstream, which she put on the road to have a place to escape as a young artist. You know she was on Lilith Fair?
Really, how did that influence her?
At that festival her Airstream became a gathering place for artists and guests regardless of genre, level of fame – and has been a part of her ethos ever since. That talk tethers to a spicy margarita recipe that’ll be everyone’s summer cocktail of choice.
How much of it is autobiographical?
I think her life story is deeper and richer, but there are stories here you wouldn’t get in a memoir. Does that make sense? Turning 21 with her Nonny, gambling on the boat in Louisiana, the home-ec class where she ended up being president because the president got pregnant, or driving from radio station to radio station with her mom long before she did “Nashville Star” and what having a haven with friends in Austin meant. You get a real feel for the grit and the sparkle of who she was, what the women in her life gave her. That kind of thing might not make a true memoir, but it’s fun and personal. Maybe it’s a book about how entertaining life can be, as well as “here are some tricks to have fun entertaining.” And let me tell you: they have fun everywhere they go!
Was it fun writing?
Writing is never fun. (laughter) But the stories, and the memories, the frosé and just chatting – the Lambert family makes people feel welcome; they know how to get you a drink or make you comfortable. Even going through the pages was pretty fun … one thing would lead to another memory.
How did it come about?
I have not only written a lot about Miranda and all the women in modern country music forever, I think I’ve shown a real commitment to the details and wanting to make the larger connections. During the pandemic, I was looking for something to sink my teeth into – and sent notes to a few people asking if they’d consider talking about a book.
Marion Kraft, her manager, responded before I could even get all the notes out! Marion was as hands-on and committed to keeping this book in Miranda’s voice, capturing that something something that sets this family apart. She’s been awesome, too, as we’ve gone through revisions.
How do you think it will do?
It’s been No. 1 since HarperCollins announced the April 25 pub date and released the cover. It’s crazy; but it also shows the power of who Miranda is as a woman and what her music says to all kinds of people – young, old, Texas, New York, small town, LGBTQ, church people – about how to be your own person. I can’t wait to see the way people put this book to use to create their own gatherings, joy and madcap capers! s