Member Since 2008
There is the whirlwind, and then there is the young woman at its center. The key to Carrie Underwood may lie in knowing that, a few years down the road, the two remain separate. For all the awards, the record sales, the chart-topping hits, the non-stop schedule and the incessant media attention, Carrie remains firmly in touch with the shy Oklahoma college student she was before becoming a star.
“I had a very happy childhood full of the wonderful simple things that children love to do,” she says. “Growing up in the country, I enjoyed things like playing on dirt roads, climbing trees, catching little woodland creatures and, of course, singing.” She sang in church, then in grade school musicals and area talent shows, winning a savings bond here, a trophy there.
“After high school,” she says, “I pretty much gave up on the dream of singing. I had reached a point in my life where I had to be practical and prepare for my future in the ‘real world.’”
She majored in broadcast journalism, her sights set on a career in television news. Then, in her senior year, she saw news reports of tryouts for American Idol’s 2005 season. “People always told me that I should try out for the show, but I never thought I would be able to handle it.” When her mother offered to drive her to St. Louis for tryouts, though, she decided to go. That, of course, set in motion the whirlwind.
Her debut CD, Some Hearts, released in 2005, is the best-selling solo female country debut album in RIAA history, with sales of seven million copies and five No. 1 singles. Among them “Jesus, Take The Wheel” and “Before He Cheats,” which both won Grammy’s as Best Country Song in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Some Hearts also surpasses all other releases as the all-time U.S. top-selling album by any American Idol contestant. At the close of 2007, Billboard ranked Some Hearts as the Top Country Album for the second consecutive year, making Carrie the first female artist in Billboard history to earn back-to-back honors for Top Country Album.
Her follow up CD, Carnival Ride, released in 2007, also went multi-platinum and contains No. 1 hits “So Small” and “All-American Girl,” which became her first co-written songs released as singles. Carrie's third album, Play On, also proved enormous success.
Carrie Underwood made her Grand Ole Opry debut on June 10, 2005, just two weeks after winning American Idol. Her love for the Opry started as a child as she grew up watching and listening to the show, dreaming of one day performing there and even becoming a member herself.
On March 15, 2008 that dream came true for the grown-up Carrie when Randy Travis surprised her on the stage of the Opry with an invitation to become the next member. “Let me think about it,” she playfully smiled before immediately responding “Yes!” wiping tears from her eyes.