Kellie Pickler was in Afghanistan for Christmas. She was there to entertain the troops that have been charged with dismantling the American and coalition military bases in the the war-torn country. And although she's a familiar voice and face in the U. S., not everybody there knew who she was when she arrived for her USO tour. But many had amended that by the time they saw her perform on Christmas. And one soldier, who was all too familiar with Kellie Pickler's music, got to sing a duet with the country singer.
Michelle Cleghorn posted, WebProNews reported Dec. 26, a video of herself and Pickler singing the former "American Idol" finalist's Top 10 hit "Best Days of Your Life," a song from her debut album, Small Town Girl. Cleghorn missed a word here and there, but she knew most of the song and Pickler had no problem hearing her singing, nor sharing the spotlight with her. Stepping to the stage's edge, she and Cleghorn performed their impromptu duet, which Cleghorn subsequently posted to YouTube, dedicating the song to her ex-husband.
Winning the hearts and minds of Afghans might be problematic, but Kellie Pickler had little trouble winning the hearts and minds of the troops stationed there.
The United Services Organization (USO) tour was Pickler's seventh. She told the Kandahar audience that there was no place she would rather be. She joked that she had wanted to bring them Jack Daniels (she and her husband received a keg of the famed Tennessee whiskey for Christmas).
According to the Washington Post, while in Kandahar, Pickler and her band toured various areas of the military installation -- the dog training facility, visited wounded troops, to dining halls. She posed for pictures, greeted and shook hands with troops, signed autographs, and talked with those who came out to see her. She also flew around the area in Chinooks and Black Hawks and even fired a howitzer, much to the surprise of a visiting Afghan military officer, who asked what was going on.
“I think that was Kellie,” Col. D.A. Sims said through an interpreter, which only served to confuse the Afghan general.
As noted, although some had no idea who Kellie Pickler was when she got to the base, most did by the time she left. Google helped but Pickler herself was probably her own best publicist, just like she is when she's at home in the U. S.
Since finishing seventh during Season 5 of "American Idol," the bubbly and somewhat goofy Kellie Pickler has gone on to be a favored guest on talk shows (especially "The Ellen Degeneres Show"), won "Dancing With the Stars" with professional dancer Derek Hough in its sixteenth season, and generated four studio albums that have sold over 1.6 million units overall. She's had ten Top 50 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including her latest single, "Little Bit Gypsy," off her latest album, The Woman I Am, which was released in November.
Pickler is just one of the latest in a long line of women who have given selflessly of their time to entertain troops stationed in countries far from home during the holidays. Women like Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Ann Margaret, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, Loretta Lynn, Ginger Rogers, Jessica Simpson, and Nancy Sinatra. The USO itself has put together tours since 1941.