Fresh off the release of her eighth studio album Palomino—and ahead of her fall Las Vegas residency—beloved country star Miranda Lambert touched down in New York City to offer a taste of Nashville to the attendees of the 2022 TIME100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Lambert, herself a TIME100 honoree this year, kicked off the evening’s festivities with a performance of two songs: the rousing “Actin’ Up” off her latest album, and the emotional “Tin Man,” which she said she wrote during a difficult time in her life.
“I’m lucky I’m an artist because I get to use whatever stuff I go through,” she Wednesday. (At least one audience member could be spotted wiping a tear away at the end.)
“I don’t really know what got me here besides three chords and the truth, because that’s what I live by,” she said. “I look out at the crowd and I’m scared to death a little bit!”
Just before going onstage, Lambert stopped by the red carpet to reflect on her year, her accomplishments, and the evolution of her genre in recent years. Lambert has long been a champion of fellow women in country music, collaborating and bringing on tour a collection of up-and-coming young stars.
“It’s a huge deal to me. I was actually shocked, but I’m so thankful to be a part of this and know all the work i’ve done over the last 20 years in this industry has gotten me here and i’m doing some change for good,” Lambert told TIME.
Lambert is known for her authenticity. “That’s what country music is,” she said about her commitment to truth in her art. “And that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she said. “I’m one of the lucky ones whose gotten to do this for almost two decades now in country music, so I’m just going to continue to share my message and hope it helps others.”
Lambert’s Palomino earned her the highest debut of a country album this year, and was the top-selling country album in the U.S. She will be setting up shop in Vegas for her Velvet Rodeo concert residency starting in September.
Returning after two years on pause, the TIME100 Gala is TIME’s annual celebration of the TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people, released this year on May 23. The Gala brings together icons, leaders, change-makers, and celebrities from across industries and nations for one lively evening of meaningful dialogue and celebration. This year’s Gala features live performances from Lambert and Mary J. Blige, two honorees on the 2022 TIME100 list. Further attendees from this year’s list include actors Andrew Garfield, Ariana DeBose, and Amanda Seyfried, musicians Jazmine Sullivan, Jon Batiste, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, athletes Eileen Gu and Dwyane Wade, director Taika Waititi, and legal activist Chase Strangio,
On June 12, TIME is teaming up with ABC to bring viewers inside the exclusive TIME100 Gala for the first time with a special television event. TIME100: The World’s Most Influential People airs Sunday, June 12 at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC, featuring host Simu Liu, director Quinta Brunson, Ukrainian journalist Sevgil Musaieva, and more.
—Julia Zorthian contributed to this report.