If you've ever tried to write Kellie Pickler off as just another perky blonde, think again. The Dancing with the Stars contender is as positive as they come, but she's had to overcome a lot in her 26 years. On Monday night's episode of DWTS, Kellie's friends and family divulge inspiring details about the North Carolina native, opening up about her troubled childhood during which her dad struggled with substance abuse and spent time in prison.

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While their relationship has endured some rocky times, Kellie says she and her dad are currently better than ever.

"I’ve never felt like he wasn’t a good person, he’s just struggled with his own demons," explains Kellie backstage at the show. "I think we all have demons and everyone is different. My dad’s just happens to be alcohol and drugs. It’s affected him and everyone around him but the thing I admire about him is that he stepped back to recognize those demons and he’s clean and sober today. He’s doing great."

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The country singer admits that she and her father have been hesitant about inviting the public into their personal lives, but allowing Dancing with the Stars in felt different.

"When you go through the whole Idol experience and you’re green, obviously he (my dad) and I had never been on television before and in the media spotlight," says Kellie. "You can kind of wear your heart on your sleeve and say a lot and then it goes in the editing room and it’s cut, pasted and put together in different ways. When I was on the show (American Idol) there were a lot of tabloid things that were mean about my dad. I’ve never not loved him. We’ve always been close in spite of whatever circumstance but it was hard to read things that just made him out to be a bad person. Some of the things are really harsh and really taken out of context. It makes you want to be careful so we were apprehensive about doing the interview with the show but I think Dancing with the Stars is very classy and they take great care of us."

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So how did the little girl from a small town turn into a country star?

"I think ultimately of course how you're raised can mold you and shape you in a sense, but ultimately you are who you are because you chose to be that way," says Kellie. "There has to come a time in your life where you step up and take accountability and responsibility for your actions and who you want to be. No one’s making me be here. No one’s making me do what I do. Regardless of what I’ve seen and experienced and grown up around, I have a choice of whether or not I want to do the same or create my own path."

Tune in to Dancing with the Stars tonight at 9/8c to find out if Kellie and her pro partner Derek Hough will advance to next week's big season finale.

Which couple do you want to see take home the coveted mirror ball trophy? Tell us in the comments below or tweet @OKMagazine.


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