Miranda Lambert has never been one to shy away from controversy, in her music or in real life. Case in point: the Texas native proudly carries a gun, even though she knows the practice is becoming controversial, and has no plans of laying her weapon down.
"My dad was a police officer, so early on I was taught gun safety, what guns were for, how to use them and when not to touch them," Lambert tells TIME. "I've just grown up around them, so it's my normal. I'm a girl, I travel a lot by myself, and I like to carry to protect myself. I know everybody has an opinion on it and it's polarizing, but for me it's just a way of life."
Lambert might be passionate about the Second Amendment, but she's equally passionate about animals. The "Keeper of the Flame" singer started her MuttNation Foundation in 2009, as a way to give back, and help her four-legged friends in need.
"It's where my heart is," Lambert says. "It started with volunteering at the Humane Society in Texas; I adopted a little dog who was my companion. Her name is Delilah. For the first seven years of my career, she went everywhere with me; she was therapy. When I lived in Oklahoma, it was a very rural area and I fostered about 38 dogs myself. Now I have eight. I think that's pretty good."
Five of the smallest ones join Lambert on the road, while the three biggest stay on her farm. But while she might have her hands full right now, Lambert is always trying to talk her friends into adopting animals who need a home.
"They all know it's coming!" Lambert tells Parade. "I always encourage people to adopt instead of shop [at pet stores]. So many homeless dogs are getting overlooked because of breeders ... I'm a pretty great matchmaker, I have to say. I tell them, 'There's always room for one more.'"
Lambert's last album, The Weight of These Wings, was released in 2016, and her next album will be with Pistol Annies, a trio made up of Lambert, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe. But when the 34-year-old releases her next solo record, she hints it will be even more honest than her previous projects.
"My focus is starting to head toward more storytelling," Lambert reveals. "I spent the last 11 or 12 years writing about my life, and that's gotten me here. But some of my favorite singer-songwriters write from character perspectives. It's really hard for me, so I'm going to work on that."
Photo Credit: Getty images/Taylor Hill