Raised on Muscle Shoals soul and Louisiana’s rich musical roux blended with Sheryl Crow and Miranda Lambert influences, Austin-based Kendall Beard left her small East Texas hometown of Lufkin at 15 and moved to Philadelphia to sing with Sahara Lane, an all-girl act being developed by Boyz II Men. She finished high school online and enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, which led to a PR internship with a major label in Los Angeles.

Kendall Beard 3 by Teresa JolieFriends convinced her to try out for Season Eight of “American Idol.” Making it to the semifinal round inspired her to write the songs now on her debut album, All Round Girl, produced by AJ Vallejo and released in September on VMG Records. These range from the sexy, rockin’ first single and video, “Drinkin’,” to introspective ballads such as “Give You the World.” There’s also a straight-ahead party song, “Out of My Skin,” but its flip side is “The Fall,” an expression of the toll a loved one’s addiction takes.

“Every song on the album is personal,” Beard said. “I honestly feel very exposed. But that’s OK, because I believe that the best music comes from speaking the truth.”

Who is your musical hero?
“Grace Potter. She is so talented, well-rounded and unique!”

What song would you secretly love to cover?
“Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game.’”

What album is on your playlist?
“I listen to a lot of local Austin artists. But I’m really into the Pistol Annies right now!”

Who is your dream duet partner?
“I would love to do a girl duo with a Pistol Annies feel. So I’d like to sing with someone like Miranda Lambert or Kimberly Perry.”

What book is on your nightstand?
“The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.”

What’s your pet peeve?
“Bad drivers and unpacking.”

What song do you wish you had written?
“There are so many, but as of today it’s ‘What Are You Listening To?’ by Chris Stapleton and ‘You and Tequila’ by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter.”

What do you find yourself saying over and over again?
“If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

What mode of transportation do you prefer?
“Plane, train, automobile or bike: I don’t really care. I just like to go!”

What actress would portray you in a biopic about your life?
“Maybe Reese Witherspoon.”

What moment in your life would you like to relive?
“Probably college – not that I would do anything differently, but it was such a coming-of-age time for me. I wish I had taken more time to soak it all in and appreciate that unique time in my life.”

Do you have a lucky charm?
“No, I just always say a prayer and feel at ease.”

What would be the title of your autobiography?
“The Dances to My Songs.”

When they look back on your life in 50 years, what do you hope people say about you?
“That I have lived a really special and unique life. ‘She was a go-getter! She loved hard, worked hard, partied hard and never gave up on her dreams!’”

What would you put in your personal time capsule?
“Definitely all mu music, but I’d also put in the stacks of notebooks that I have accumulated over my life of all the songs I have written but never recorded. They go back to when I was about 10 years old.”

If you weren’t a musical artist, what would you be?
“Probably a nutritionist.”

What was your greatest performance to date?
“I would have to say my live performance on ‘American Idol,’ not because it was my best performance (it wasn’t) but because it was such a proud moment.”

What is your favorite food while on the road?
“Sour gummy worms … is that considered a food?”

What was your first gig?
“It was at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I was part of a dance team that was performing. They needed entertainment between costume changes, and so they asked me to sing. Besides the awful outfit I had on, it went great! That was the moment I fell in love with the stage.”

What are your great short- and long-term challenges?
“Long-term challenge would be my struggle with dyslexia. It was extremely tough for me to learn how to deal with it growing up. I had to work extra hard to excel in my education. Though it’s still a battle today, I have learned how to cope and I believe that the hard work ethics that I had to learn at such a young age have helped me become the determined and hard-working person I am now.

“Short term challenge, I would say, is getting this album out. I have loved every minute of the process, but it was difficult for me at times to learn about everything that had to be done to make an album happen. There is so much more to it that writing, recording and smiling pretty.”

What would we never be able to guess about you?
“I’m probably the most indecisive person you will ever meet when it comes to small and really pointless decisions, like what to eat for dinner. You would think I’m picking my last meal!”


Twitter: @KendallBeard

Watch Kendall Beard’s video for “Drinkin’” here: