Behind the Band Name: Pistol Annies

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A name like Pistol Annies is as fiery and attention-grabbing as the women who make up the trio of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. Since their debut more than a decade ago, Pistol Annies has been one of the most lauded modern country acts for their thought-provoking lyrics paired with their spitfire spirits that shine through in every song. Here, we explore the meaning behind the band name, Pistol Annies.

Meaning Behind the Band Name

Though they collectively are the Pistol Annies, each individual band member has her own nickname, with Lambert known as “Lonestar Annie,” a reference to her home state of Texas. Presley also nods to her Kentucky roots as the daughter of a coal miner as “Holler Annie,” while Monroe rounds out the trio as “Hippie Annie.”

“They call me ‘Lone Star Annie.’ I come from the piney woods of East Texas,” Lambert explained (quote via Lone Star Music). “I am a singer/songwriter, and a lover of outdoors and animals.” “I was raised in the hills of Eastern Kentucky in a little town called Beauty,” Presley said. “My dad is a third-generation coal miner, and my mom is a school teacher. I am extremely proud of my mountain heritage.” “They call me ‘Hippie Annie,'” confirmed Monroe. “I was born in East Tennessee and have been singing all my life.”

Though they made their public debut in 2011, the group actually formed in 2009 when Lambert and Monroe were on a songwriting retreat and they hatched the idea of forming an all-female trio. Monroe recommended her friend and singer/songwriter Presley, who was working on a solo album at the time, to Lambert. After hearing her music, Lambert was convinced Presley was the third member.

“The next thing you know, two o’clock in the morning they’re calling me, and Ashley’s like, ‘get up, get up, you have to send me and Miranda your record,'” Presley recalled in an interview with The Oklahoman. “And I was like, ‘Miranda who, Ashley?’ You’re crazy, I’m in the bed, I have my two-year-old laying next to me, whatever.’ … And she was like, ‘You’d better get up and do it. It’s Miranda Lambert!’”

Lambert further explains the band’s formation in an interview with The Boot in 2011. “It’s a girl named Angaleena Presley from East Kentucky and Ashley Monroe, and they’re both artists on their own and they’re great friends of mine,” she told the publication at the time. “We’ve just been writing songs like crazy, and I always wanted to do a girl project. … It’s not your typical girl trio. We definitely have an edge. We sing a lot about housewives.”

“When I heard a few of the songs Angaleena had written, I just felt we were kindred spirits; she is an amazing storyteller,” Lambert shared with The Oklahoman. “We all started hanging out more in late 2009 and just wrote music together and sang together. Ashley is truly a wordsmith and has the voice of an angel. It felt natural, and I got very inspired musically, so we started singing for other friends and it was fun. The next natural progression was recording it, and now we can’t seem to stop.”

Pistol Annies’s first live performance was on the TV special, Academy of Country Music’s Girls’ Night Out: Superstar Women of Country singing debut single, “Hell on Heels.” Known for signature tracks including “Hell on Heels” and “Hush Hush,” they’re also featured background vocalists on Blake Shelton’s hit, “Boys ‘Round Here.” The trio have released three critically-acclaimed studio albums: 2011’s Hell on Heels, Annie Up in 2013 and their latest Interstate Gospel released in 2018. They also dropped a Christmas album, Hell of a Holiday, in 2021.

They’ve also been nominated for several Grammy, CMA and ACM Awards. When they’re not in the studio, Pistol Annies has taken their act on the road with multiple live performances, including as part of Lambert’s 2019 Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour.

“There’s a magic that happens anytime us three are in a room,” Monroe expressed to Knox News. “It’s a magic that we feel that we can’t explain. It’s like sisters in another life or something, but we know that if we hunker down, the songs will come.”

“There’s just this known connective thing that’s we’ve had since the first time we all met,” Presley told CMT, echoing the sentiment that they were “sisters in another life. … It’s only grown.”

“I can’t believe it worked,” Lambert added. “Our manager made us audition for her. We did, and she couldn’t deny us,” Lambert recalls. “This band is so important to me and for female music and perspective.”