Miranda Lambert is one of the most-awarded recording artists of her generation, but even she had to start somewhere. The CMA, ACM and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter readily admits that her earliest studio recordings were so bad that she cried when she first heard them.

Watch: Miranda Remembers Her First Ever Album!

Lambert was 16 at the time, and dealing with the kind of early rejection that every aspiring performer goes through. She had auditioned for the True Value Country Showdown and lost, but the experience didn't sour her on her musical dreams; instead, it fueled her ambition to travel to Nashville and record some demos. Her parents managed to pull together the money for the recording sessions, but the resulting recordings were a painfully eye-opening experience for the inexperienced musician.

"I cried in the studio. My dad spent $6,000 to do those demos, and we didn't have $6,000 at all," Lambert recalled to the Washington Post in 2007, calling the resulting tracks "awful" and "cheesy."

"It was terrible," she said. "But he says it was a cheap lesson because I learned in three hours what I wanted to do."

Lambert caught a break in 2003, when she competed on the first season of a country-based reality TV singing contest called Nashville Star. She didn't win — that honor went to "Help Pour Out the Rain" singer Buddy Jewell — but in retrospect, she says placing third was for the best. Lambert signed to Epic Nashville after the show, and they gave her all the time she needed to write and record the songs for her major-label debut, 2005's Kerosene. That album reached No. 1 and gave Lambert her first hit with the title song, launching her as one of the most fiercely unique and independent voices in country music.

The story of Lambert's difficult early years was the subject of a recent episode of The Secret History of Country Music, a video series that explores some of country music's greatest untold stories.

Carrie Underwood, Eric Church and Garth Brooks are among the artists already featured,  with many more to come. Be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.

Watch More Secret History of Country Music:

See 14 Singers You Forgot Did Reality Television: