Carrie Marie Underwood (born March 10, 1983) is an American country music singer, songwriter and actress. She rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol in 2005, and has since become one of the most successful artists in any musical genre. Her achievements led her to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2009. She has won numerous music awards, including seven Grammy Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music Awards and nine American Music Awards.
Her debut album, Some Hearts, was released in 2005. Bolstered by the huge crossover success of the singles “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats”, it became the fastest selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history, the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history and the best-selling country album of the last ten years. Underwood won three Grammy Awards for the album, including Best New Artist. Released in 2007, her second album, Carnival Ride, had one of the biggest ever opening weeks by a female artist and earned Underwood two Grammy Awards. Her next album, 2009’s Play On, was a commercial success led by the single “Cowboy Casanova”. Underwood’s fourth album, Blown Away (2012), earned her a Grammy Award and was that year’s second best-selling release by a female artist. Her first compilation album (2014) was a chart and sales success and earned her a Grammy Award. Her fifth album, Storyteller (2015), made her the only country artist to have all first five studio albums reach either numbers one or two on the Billboard 200. She has sold more than 65 million records worldwide.
Recognized by Rolling Stone as the female vocalist of her generation in any genre, by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and by Billboard as Country Music’s reigning Queen, Underwood is the only solo country artist in the 2000s to have a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, the first and only country artist ever to debut at number one on the Hot 100 and, with 14 number one’s, the woman with the most number one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart — from 1991 to present — breaking her own Guinness Book record of ten. She is the Top Country Artist of all-time on the RIAA’s Digital Singles ranking and the biggest American Idol earner of all time. Some Hearts was named the number one country album of the 2000s by Billboard and she was the top-ranked female artist on Billboard‘s Best Country Artists of the 2000s list.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 2004–05: American Idol
- 2.2 2005–07: Breakthrough and major success with Some Hearts
- 2.3 2007–09: Carnival Ride, wider success and acclaim
- 2.4 2009–12: Play On and collaborations
- 2.5 2012–13: Blown Away and global tour
- 2.6 2014–present: Greatest Hits: Decade #1 and Storyteller
- 3 Artistry
- 3.1 Voice
- 3.2 Influences
- 4 Recognition and legacy
- 5 Other ventures
- 5.1 Product endorsements
- 5.2 Philanthropy
- 5.3 Acting
- 6 Personal life
- 6.1 Relationships
- 6.2 Wealth
- 6.3 Personal interests
- 7 Awards and honors
- 8 Discography
- 9 Tours
- 10 Filmography
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
Underwood was born March 10, 1983 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the daughter of Carole (Shatswell) and Stephen Underwood. She was raised on her parents’ farm in the nearby rural town of Checotah. Her father worked in a sawmill, while her mother taught elementary school. She has two older sisters, Shanna and Stephanie. During her childhood, Underwood performed at Robbins Memorial Talent Show, and sang at her local church, First Free Will Baptist Church. She later sang for local events in Checotah, including Old Settler’s Day and the Lion’s Club.
A local admirer arranged for her to go to Nashville when she was 14 to audition for Capitol Records. In 1996, Capitol Records was preparing a contract for Underwood but cancelled it when company management changed. Underwood said of the event, “I honestly think it’s a lot better that nothing came out of it now, because I wouldn’t have been ready then. Everything has a way of working out.” While at Checotah High School, she was an Honor Society member, a cheerleader, and played basketball and softball. Underwood graduated from Checotah High School in 2001 as salutatorian. She chose not to pursue singing after graduation. She said, “After high school, 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 attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, graduating magna cum laude in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and an emphasis in journalism. She spent part of one of her summers as a page for Oklahoma State Representative Bobby Frame. She also waited tables at a pizzeria, worked at a zoo, and at a veterinary clinic. Underwood is an alumna of the Alpha Iota chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. For two years during the summer, she performed in Northeastern State University’s Downtown Country show in Tahlequah. She also competed in numerous beauty pageants at the university and was selected as Miss NSU runner-up in 2004.
2004–05: American Idol
|[show]American Idol season 4 performances and results|
In the summer of 2004, Underwood auditioned for American Idol in St. Louis, Missouri. After she sang “Could’ve Been” by Tiffany on the top 12 girls night, judge Simon Cowell commented that she would be one of the favorites to win the competition. During the top 11 finalists’ performance on the March 22, 2005, Idol episode, Underwood sang a rendition of the number one 1980s rock hit “Alone”, made famous by Heart, and Cowell predicted that Underwood would not only win the competition, but she would also outsell all previous Idol winners. One of the show’s producers later said she dominated the voting, winning every week handily. She gained a fan base known as “Carrie’s Care Bears” during the course of the show. During the final, she sang with Rascal Flatts their song “Bless the Broken Road”. On May 25, 2005, Underwood became the season four winner. Her winnings included a recording contract worth at least a million dollars, use of a private jet for a year, and a Ford Mustang convertible.
2005–07: Breakthrough and major success with Some Hearts
Underwood’s music career began with the release of her first single, “Inside Your Heaven”, on June 14, 2005. The song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, with Underwood becoming only the third artist to bow in the top slot since chart policy changed in 1998. She also broke Billboard chart history as the first country music artist ever to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and the song became the first song from a country artist to go to No. 1 on the Hot 100 since country group Lonestar’s “Amazed” did so in 2000. “Inside Your Heaven” is the only single by a solo country artist in the 2000 decade to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also debuted at number one on the Billboard Pop 100 and on the Canadian Singles Chart, topping it for seven consecutive weeks, becoming the longest-running single of 2005 in Canada. It sold nearly one million copies and was certified gold by the RIAA and double platinum by the CRIA.
Underwood’s debut album, Some Hearts, was released on November 15, 2005, entering the Billboard charts with 315,000 copies sold, debuting at number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums and at number two on the Billboard 200. The large first week sales of Some Hearts made it the biggest debut of any country artist since the advent of the SoundScan system in 1991. Some Hearts became the best-selling album of 2006 in all genres in the United States. The album was also the best-selling country album of both 2006 and 2007, making Underwood the first female artist in Billboard history to earn back-to-back honors for Top Country Album. Additionally, it was the best-selling female country album of 2005, 2006 and 2007. Some Hearts has since been certified seven times Platinum by the RIAA, and is the fastest-selling debut country album in the history of the SoundScan era, the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history, the best-selling Country album of the last 10 years, and the best-selling album by an American Idol alumni in the U.S.
The album’s second single, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” was released to radio in October and later peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, topping it for six consecutive weeks, and at twenty on the Hot 100. The song sold over two million copies and was certified double Platinum by the RIAA. Underwood’s third single, “Some Hearts”, was also released in October, but just to the pop radios. “Don’t Forget to Remember Me”, her fourth single, also proved successful, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Later that autumn, Underwood’s third country single, “Before He Cheats”, hit number one on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs, staying there for five consecutive weeks. The song peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, achieving the slowest climb ever to the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the record that was previously held by Creed from July 2000. In February 2008, when it was certified double Platinum, “Before He Cheats” became the first country song to ever be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA. It has now been certified five times Platinum, selling more than four million copies, and is the fourth best-selling country digital song of all time. On April 11, 2007, Underwood continued her streak of top Country singles with the release of “Wasted”, which peaked at number one on the Hot Country Songs Chart, sold more than one million copies and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. In August 2008, the “Jesus, Take the Wheel” ringtone was reported to have been certified Platinum, making Underwood the first country artist ever to have two songs hit Platinum Mastertone status together with “Before He Cheats”, which had been certified earlier in 2007. Underwood started her first headlined tour, Carrie Underwood: Live 2006, with dates across North America.
At the 2005 Billboard Music Awards, her hit song “Inside Your Heaven” won the coveted Top-Selling Hot 100 Song of the Year award and also Top-Selling Country Single of the Year award, and she won Country Single Sales Artist of the Year. At the 2006 Academy of Country Music Awards, she won Top New Female Vocalist and Single of the Year, for “Jesus, Take the Wheel”. At the 40th Annual Country Music Association Awards she won both the Horizon Award (now New Artist of the Year) and Female Vocalist of the Year. At the 2006 CMT Awards, Underwood won both the Breakthrough Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year for “Jesus, Take The Wheel”. She later won the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award at the American Music Awards, and was also nominated for Favorite Female Country Artist. She won five awards at the 2006 Billboard Music Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year, Top 200 Female Artist of the Year, Female Country Artist, New Country Artist, and Country Album of the Year. That year, Underwood also won a Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Award for Country Recorded Song of the Year, for “Jesus, Take The Wheel”. At the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2007, Underwood won Album of the Year, Video of the Year, and Female Vocalist of the Year. She was nominated for “World’s Best Selling New Artist” at the 2006 World Music Awards. At the 2007 CMT Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 16, Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” won three awards, including Video of the Year, Female Video of the Year, and Video Director of the Year. Underwood won two awards at the 2007 CMA Awards: Female Vocalist of the Year, for the second consecutive time, and Single Record of the Year, for “Before He Cheats”.