Raised with younger brother Luke in Lindale, Texas, Lambert grows up "sitting on the porch listening to my dad play Merle Haggard," she tells PEOPLE in 2006 of her musical roots. "I was kind of ingrained that way," she adds. "And I think that has a lot to do with who I am now."
At 16, Lambert begins playing the guitar and appears on the Johnny High Country Music Review – the same show that helped launch LeAnn Rimes. Soon after, Lambert lands her first professional gig at Dallas's Deep Ellum's Gypsy Tea Room.
A 19-year-old Lambert competes on the first season of USA Network's country music competition, Nashville Star – and happily places third. "I was hoping not to win," she explains. "The winner had to go in right after the contest and make a record in a couple of weeks, and I wasn't ready."
Lambert releases her first album, Kerosene, which debuts at No. 1 on the country charts, before being certified platinum. The singer, who had a hand in composing 11 of 12 tracks (she even co-writes "Greyhound Bound for Nowhere" with her father Rick), receives a Grammy nod for best female country vocal performance for the title track.
Lambert is paired with fellow newcomer Blake Shelton for CMT's "100 Greatest Duets," where the duo sings "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma." "We just hit it off," Shelton tells of their first meeting. "I'm from southern Oklahoma, she's from north Texas and we had a lot to talk about." Before long, Lambert moves to Oklahoma, a few miles down the road from Shelton. "I have a great dad and brother, so I grew up with good men," she tells PEOPLE. "That's how I set my standard."
Lambert releases her follow-up album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which features the hit single, "Gunpowder and Lead," and earns her the Academy of Country Music's album of the year award in 2008. "Oh my God. I don't know what to say, I was not expecting this at all, sitting right behind Kenny Chesney and I just don't feel right taking this," Lambert exclaims after beating out both Chesney and Brad Paisley.
With two hit albums under her belt, Lambert and Shelton hit the road together, co-headlining fairs, festivals and clubs in 2008. "We didn't know if we would kill each other or become closer," Lambert jokes to PEOPLE. She later goes on to open for country's stadium king Kenny Chesney on his Sun City Carnival tour in 2009.
Lambert releases her third album, Revolution, which earns her six Academy of Country Music awards nominations in 2010. "I didn't even know there was six categories I could be in," says Lambert, who takes home three awards for top female vocalist, album and video of the year for "White Liar."
After five years of dating, Shelton surprises Lambert by popping the question with a diamond-and-platinum ring deep in the Oklahoma woods. "I was wearing a camo jacket and no makeup," Lambert tells PEOPLE of the proposal. Shelton adds, "We've been together long enough to know that we're more miserable apart than we are together. I think we're meant to be together, so we're just going to do something about it – finally!"
Lambert takes home four trophies at the CMA Awards, including album of the year for Revolution and female vocalist of the year. During her acceptance speech, Lambert, who turned 27 on awards night, said, "I don't know what's goin' on." I just told [fiancé] Blake [Shelton, who picked up the trophy for male vocalist] I think we need to go to church."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Courtesy Lambert Family; John Russell/WireImage; Scott Gries/Getty; Ed Rode/CMT; Ethan Miller/Getty; Mark J. Terrill/AP; Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage; Courtesy Miranda Lambert; Bryan Bedder/Getty