Miranda Lambert first gained national attention on a USA Network reality show called Nashville Star, but she didn't really have her breakout moment until several years and several failed singles later.

The country hitmaker's place in country music history is now secure, but early on she needed patience and a patient record label to stand behind her. None of her first five singles reached the Top 10 on the country radio airplay charts, but she was making a name for herself as an artist who stood behind her convictions and remained true to the music and who she was. That was good enough eventually, but she got a big boost one fall night in New York City.

"I get nervous every time I do live TV, but that was, like, the moment where I knew I could either make a name for myself or be forgotten forever,” Lambert tells Taste of Country. "So it had to be powerful."

WATCH: A Rare Interview With Miranda Lambert

The performance was powerful.

This week's episode of The Secret History of Country Music explores what happened before and after her moment at the 2005 CMA Awards. It wasn't a Chris Stapleton moment where she went from nobody to headliner overnight, but it was arguably what saved her from becoming another footnote in country music, to be written about in future "Remember When" segments.

In 2020, Lambert stands as country music's most decorated female artists, with several albums that make 'Best Of' lists for the 21st century. Back then, she was an outsider still years removed from becoming a true headliner.

The Secret History of Country Music is a weekly series that goes deeper inside the stories of country music's biggest hits, moments and figures. Season 1 explored Bobby Gentry's disappearance, the death of Blake Shelton's brother and the real reason Eric Church was blacklisted. Be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.

WATCH: What Happened to Blake Shelton's Brother? 

See Miranda Lambert's Best Looks From CMA Awards Past: