Carrie Underwood
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Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood, Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville, TN, June 2018.jpg
Carrie Underwood performing at the Grand Ole Opry, June 2018
Background information
Carrie Marie Underwood
Born (1983-03-10) March 10, 1983 (age 35)
Checotah, Oklahoma, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Guitar
  • harmonica
  • vocals
Brad Paisley

Carrie Marie Underwood (born March 10, 1983)[1][2] is an American singer and songwriter. She rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol, in 2005. 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 best-selling solo female debut album in country music history, the fastest-selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history and the best-selling country album of the last 14 years. Underwood won three Grammy Awards for the album, including Best New Artist.

Her second album Carnival Ride followed in 2007. It 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.

One of the most successful artists in any musical genre, Underwood has sold more than 65 million records worldwide. Recognized by Billboard as Country Music's reigning Queen and by Rolling Stone as "the female vocalist of her generation of any genre", she was listed by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014. Underwood is the top country artist of all-time on the RIAA's Digital Singles ranking and the highest certified country album artist to debut in the 21st century. She is the only solo country artist in the 2000s to have a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, the only country artist to debut at number one on the Hot 100, and the woman with most number-one hits in the history of the Billboard Country Airplay chart, with fifteen. She is the most successful American Idol winner, per Forbes. Billboard named Some Hearts the number-one country album of the 2000s and her as top female artist on their 'Best Country Artists of the 2000s' list. She has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. She has received numerous awards and accolades, including seven Grammy Awards, 10 Billboard Music Awards, 14 ACM Awards, 12 American Music Awards, 8 CMA Awards, and a Guinness World Record.

Early life

Underwood was born March 10, 1983, in Muskogee, Oklahoma,[2] to Carole (Shatswell) and Steve Underwood,[3] She has two older sisters, Shanna and Stephanie,[4] and was raised on her parents' farm in the nearby rural town of Checotah.[5] Her father worked in a paper mill while her mother taught elementary school.[6] Extremely hyperactive, she was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at age five and was prescribed Ritalin and Dexedrine, medicines she still takes as an adult.[7] 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.[8]

A local admirer arranged for her to go to Nashville when she was 14 to audition for Capitol Records.[9] In 1996, Capitol Records was preparing a contract for Underwood but canceled 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."[10] While at Checotah High School, she was an Honor Society member, a cheerleader, and played basketball and softball.[11] Underwood graduated from Checotah High School in 2001 as salutatorian.[8] 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'".[11] 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.[12] She spent part of one of her summers as a page for Oklahoma State Representative Bobby Frame.[13] She also waited tables at a pizzeria, worked at a zoo, and at a veterinary clinic.[11] Underwood is an alumna of the Alpha Iota chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.[14]

For two years during the summer, she performed in Northeastern State University's Downtown Country show in Tahlequah. She competed in numerous beauty pageants at the university and was selected as Miss NSU runner-up in 2004.[15]


2004-2005: American Idol

In the summer of 2004, Underwood auditioned for American Idol in St. Louis, Missouri, singing Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me". 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.[16][17] 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.[18] One of the show's producers later said she dominated the voting, winning every week handily.[19][20] 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 on "Bless the Broken Road."[21] 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.[22]

2005-2007: Some Hearts and breakthrough

Underwood performing at the World Arena in December 2006

Underwood's music career began with the release of her first single, "Inside Your Heaven", on June 14, 2005. The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, with Underwood becoming only the third artist to bow in the top slot since chart policy changed in 1998.[23] 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.[24] "Inside Your Heaven" is the only single by a solo country artist in the decade of 2000-2009 to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[25] It also debuted at No. 1 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.[26][27]

Underwood's debut album, Some Hearts, was released on November 15, 2005, entering the Billboard charts with 315,000 copies sold, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums and at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.[28] 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.[29]Some Hearts became the best-selling album of 2006 in all genres in the United States.[30] 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.[31] Additionally, it was the best-selling female country album of 2005, 2006, and 2007.[32]Some Hearts has since become the fastest-selling debut country album in the history of the SoundScan era,[33][34] the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history,[35] the best-selling Country album of the last 14 years,[36] and the best-selling album by an American Idol alumni in the US.[37] The album is certified eight times platinum by the RIAA, the highest album certification of any country artist to emerge since 2000.[38]

The album's second single,[39] "Jesus, Take the Wheel" was released to radio in October and later peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, topping it for six consecutive weeks, and at number twenty on the Hot 100.[40] The song sold over two million copies and was certified double Platinum by the RIAA.[41] Underwood's third single, "Some Hearts", was also released in October, but exclusively to pop radio. "Don't Forget to Remember Me", her fourth single, also proved successful, reaching No. 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Later that autumn, Underwood's third country single,[39] "Before He Cheats", hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs, staying there for five consecutive weeks.[42] The song peaked at No. 8 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.[43] In February 2008, when it was certified double Platinum, "Before He Cheats" became the first country song to ever be certified multi-platinum.[44] 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.[26][45] On April 11, 2007, Underwood continued her streak of top Country singles with the release of "Wasted", which peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, sold more than one million copies and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.[46] 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.[47] Underwood started her first headlined tour, Carrie Underwood: Live 2006, with dates across North America.

Underwood performing in Iraq, in December 2006

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.[48] At the 2006 Academy of Country Music Awards, she won Top New Female Vocalist and Single of the Year, for "Jesus, Take the Wheel".[49] 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.[50] 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".[51] She later won the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award at the American Music Awards, and was also nominated for Favorite Female Country Artist.[52] 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.[53] That year, Underwood also won a Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Award for Country Recorded Song of the Year, for "Jesus, Take The Wheel".[54] 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.[55] 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.[56] 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".[57]

In 2007, at the 49th Grammy Awards, Some Hearts received four Grammy nominations and Underwood won her first two Grammy Awards: Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Jesus, Take the Wheel.[58] By winning the Best New Artist Grammy Award, Underwood became only the second country artist to ever win the award in the 56-year history of the Grammy Awards, following LeAnn Rimes (1997).[59] She sang the Eagles song "Life in the Fast Lane" alongside Grammy nominees Rascal Flatts. She also sang the Eagles' "Desperado" to honour Don Henley of The Eagles. She also paid tribute to Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys by performing "New San Antonio Rose". At the 50th Grammy Awards, in 2008, Underwood was nominated for two more Grammys: Best Female Country Vocal Performance, for "Before He Cheats" and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals, for "Oh, Love" a duet with Brad Paisley. She won one Grammy Award that night, for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, and performed the song at the ceremony.[60]

In December 2005, Underwood was named Oklahoman of the Year by Oklahoma Today.[61] In December 2006, Underwood joined Tony Bennett, Michael Buble;, and Josh Groban to sing "For Once in My Life" on The Oprah Winfrey Show.[62] That same month, she paid tribute to Dolly Parton, by singing "Islands in the Stream" with Kenny Rogers (originally by Parton and Rogers) at the Kennedy Center Honors, which honored Parton that year.[63] Underwood performed with the USO Christmas Tour in Iraq during the 2006 Holiday season.[64] Underwood also performed at the 2007 Idol Gives Back concert, singing "I'll Stand By You", a cover of The Pretenders hit. Her version of the song debuted at No. 6 on Billboard's Hot 100 Songs.[65]

In 2007, Forbes reported that Underwood earned over $7 million between June 2006 and June 2007.[66] Also in 2007, Victoria's Secret named Underwood the Sexiest Female Musician.[67]

2007-2009: Carnival Ride and commercial success

Underwood at the American Idol Experience premiere, February 2009

Underwood's second album, Carnival Ride,[68] was released in October 2007.[69] On Carnival Ride, Underwood was more involved in the songwriting process; she set up a writers' retreat at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium to collaborate with such Music Row tunesmiths as Hillary Lindsey, Craig Wiseman, Rivers Rutherford, and Gordie Sampson.[70]Carnival Ride moved over 527,000 copies in its first week, debuting at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums, as well as No. 1 on the Canadian Albums Chart, one of the biggest first-week sales by a female artist.[71]Carnival Ride was certified double platinum in just two months after its release in December.[72] The album is now certified four times Multi-Platinum by the RIAA.[41] "So Small", the first single from the album, was released in July 2007 and reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs, topping it for three consecutive weeks.[73] "All-American Girl", the second single, also reached No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. The next single, "Last Name", reached No. 1 on the Hot Country Song chart as well. This made Underwood the first female artist to have two consecutive albums each release three number ones on this chart since Shania Twain in 1998. "Just a Dream", the album's next single, was released on July 2008 and later peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, staying there for two consecutive weeks. With that, Underwood became the first solo female artist to pull four number one's from one album since Twain did it with The Woman in Me.[74] The album's fifth single, "I Told You So", a duet with the original singer of the song, Randy Travis, was released in February 2009. It peaked at No. 2 on the Country charts and No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. All singles from Carnival Ride were certified Platinum by the RIAA, for selling more than one million copies each.[41] In January 2008, Underwood embarked on a joint tour with Keith Urban named the Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride Tour, with dates fixed nationwide that continued through April.[75] She then started her headlined tour, the Carnival Ride Tour, in February 2008, with dates across all North America, and ended it on December 14, 2008, playing to 1.2 million fans throughout the tour and being named the top-selling country female touring artist of 2008.[76]

Underwood performing during the Carnival Ride Tour, 2007

At the end of 2007, Underwood topped five Billboard Year-End charts, including Billboard 200 Artist of the Year and also Country Artist of the Year.[77] Also in late 2007, she won three American Music Awards: Artist of the Year, Favorite Female Country Artist, and Favorite Country Album, for Some Hearts.[78] At the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards, she won Female Vocalist of the Year, for the 2nd consecutive time.[79] She received two nominations for the 2008 Country Music Association Awards. Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the awards show and she walked away with the Female Vocalist of the Year award for the third consecutive time but lost the Album of the Year award to George Strait.[80] At the 2008 American Music Awards, Carnival Ride won the Favorite Country Album award, thus making that her 2nd consecutive win in such category.[81]

In 2008, Underwood won her first international award, which was "Female Vocalist of the Year" at the European Country Music Association Awards.[82] For the 44th Academy of Country Music Awards, in 2009, Underwood was nominated for four major awards. Underwood won for Female Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year, thus making her the first woman to win the award in ten years and the 7th female to take it in the award show's four-decade run.[83] Underwood was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2009 CMT Awards for "Just A Dream". In 2009, at the 51st Grammy Awards, she won, for the third year in a row, the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, for "Last Name", and performed the song at the ceremony.[84][85] At the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010, Underwood won her fifth Grammy Award: She won the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for "I Told You So" with Randy Travis and was also nominated again for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, for "Just A Dream".[86] At the ceremony, she performed with Celine Dion, Usher, Smokey Robinson, and Jennifer Hudson during the 3-D Michael Jackson tribute.[87] Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich stated that Michael Jackson greatly admired Underwood, which is why she was hand-picked to perform during his tribute.[88]

On May 13, 2008, Underwood was invited by Randy Travis to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.[89] Later that month she was officially inducted by Garth Brooks into the Grand Ole Opry.[90] A few months earlier, she sang Julie Andrews's classic, the title song from The Sound of Music, at the 2007 Movies Rock: A Celebration Of Music In Film.[91] On October 22, 2008, Underwood unveiled her wax figure at Madame Tussauds New York.[92] In 2008, it was reported by Forbes that Underwood earned over $9 million between June 2007 and June 2008, being No. 79 on the Top Celebrity 100 list.[93] In 2009, Forbes reported that Underwood was the top earning American Idol alumnus from June 2008 to May 17, 2009. She earned more than twice as much as the second-place finisher, with estimated earnings of $14 million during this time period.[94] She appeared on the holiday CD Hear Something Country Christmas 2007 with a rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear?". The song reached No. 2 on the AC Chart and remained there for three consecutive weeks.[95] She recorded the song "Ever Ever After" for the soundtrack of the 2007 Walt Disney film Enchanted. Underwood co-wrote a song for Idol alum Kristy Lee Cook's major-label debut album Why Wait. At the 2008 Idol Gives Back, she sang George Michael's classic "Praying For Time" and later recorded it.[96] In November 2008, Underwood recorded a virtual and posthumous duet with Elvis Presley, on his classic "I'll Be Home For Christmas", for his 2008 album Christmas Duets. Elvis's ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, herself asked Underwood to do the duet: "Priscilla wanted me to do 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'", she says. "I couldn't say 'no'."[97] In March 2009, she tracked a cover of Mtley Cre's ballad "Home Sweet Home" for the American Idol season eight farewell theme.[98]

2009-2012: Play On and collaborations

Underwood at the 2009 American Music Awards

Underwood released her third studio album, Play On, on November 3, 2009.[99] The album debuted atop both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums, selling over 318,000 copies in its first week, and became, upon its release, the top-selling release of the year by a female artist, but was later overtaken by Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream and finished the year as No. 2.[100][101] Underwood wrote a song with pop/R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo for the album, the song, however, did not make the album.[102] The first single from the album, "Cowboy Casanova", co-written by Underwood, Brett James and hip hop producer Mike Elizondo, was released in September 2009. It was a huge success, jumping from No. 96 to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its second week, one of the biggest single-week upwards on the chart of all time.[103] It later peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart in just ten weeks, the year's fastest chart-topper by a country female and the fastest number one of her career at that time (her 2014 single "Something in the Water" topped the Hot Country Songs chart in its seventh week).[104] "Cowboy Casanova" has sold over 2 million copies, being certified double Platinum. Second single, "Temporary Home"[105] hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and the RIAA certified it Platinum.[106] "Undo It", Underwood's third single from "Play On", was released to radio in May. It was later certified Platinum and hit No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, giving Underwood her tenth number-one single on the Hot Country Songs.[107] The 4th single from Play On, "Mama's Song", was released to country radio in September, peaked at two on the Hot Country Songs and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The album is certified Triple Platinum.[108]

Underwood's Play On Tour started its first leg on March 11, 2010, in Reading, Pennsylvania.[109] The second leg of the tour started on September 25, 2010, in Portland, Oregon, and ended January 1, 2011, in Detroit.[110] Underwood sold out the prestigious Hollywood Bowl on October 2, 2010.[111]

In December 2010, ranked the Play On Tour one of the Top 50 tours of 2010, at No. 1 on the North American raking, and No. 31 worldwide. Billboard also ranked Underwood's tour at No. 24 for all worldwide tours of 2010. On January 4, 2011, official statistics revealed that Underwood played to over 1 million fans throughout the tour,[112] resulting in her being named again as the top-ranked female country touring artist of the year.[113]

At the 2009 CMA Awards, she received two nominations and co-hosted the ceremony with Brad Paisley.[114] Underwood was nominated for six Academy of Country Music Awards. At the show, Underwood was named Entertainer of the Year, making her the first woman in history to win this award twice.[115] Host Reba McEntire presented Underwood with the "ACM Triple Crown Award" signifying her winning Top New Artist, Top Female Vocalist, and Entertainer of the Year during her career. She was only the second Female to win the coveted "Triple Crown Award", the first being Barbara Mandrell.[116][117] At the CMT Music Awards, Underwood walked away with Video of the Year for "Cowboy Casanova" and also won CMT Performance of the Year for "Temporary Home" from CMT: Invitation Only presents Carrie Underwood.[118] Underwood won two international awards at the 8th French Country Music Awards, which were Best Female Vocalist and Video of the Year, for "Cowboy Casanova".[119] At the 2010 American Music Awards, she won "Favorite Country Album", for "Play On", making her the only artist in the American Music Award history to have all albums awarded in such a category.[120] She co-hosted the 2010 CMA Awards with Brad Paisley for the third year in a row. At the 2011 Grammy Awards, Underwood was nominated for 'Best Female Country Vocal Performance' for "Temporary Home".[121] Underwood was honored by the CMT Artists of the Year special as one of the 5 top Artists of the year in 2010 in country music.[122] The event aired on CMT on December 3, 2010. At the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards, Underwood sang with Steven Tyler both her song "Undo It" and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way".[123]

In May 2011, Underwood was one of the seven women to be honored by the Academy of Country Music at the Girls' Night Out: Superstar Women of Country special. She was recognized for being the first and only female artist in the Academy's history to ever win Entertainer of the Year twice.[124] At the ceremony, Vince Gill introduced Underwood and presented her with the special award. He sang one of her hits, "Jesus, Take The Wheel", and joined Underwood on a rendition performance of "How Great Thou Art". The video of the performance turned into a viral sensation, reaching 3 million views on YouTube within two days.[125]

Underwood performing at the United States Naval Academy, in April 2011

In December 2009, Some Hearts was named the number-one Country Album of the 2000 Decade by Billboard and Underwood was the top-ranked female artist on Billboard's Best Country Artists of the 2000 Decade list.[126][127] Overall, she was ranked No. 50 on the Artists of the Decade list by Billboard.[128] Also in late 2009, Underwood had her very own CMT Invitation Only[129] and also hosted a Christmas special, Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special, a two-hour variety show on Fox that featured Dolly Parton (with whom she sang a rendition duet of "I Will Always Love You") season seven American Idol champion David Cook, Kristin Chenoweth, Brad Paisley and others.[130] In May 2010, Underwood was selected on People Magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People List for 2010. This was the 4th year in a row that she was selected for the list.[131] Also in May, Victoria's Secret named her legs the Sexiest Legs in Hollywood.[132] In June 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Underwood as the No. 11 Queen of Pop, based on a lot of criteria from 2009 until 2011.[133] Underwood co-wrote and recorded a song titled "There's a Place for Us", the lead single from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.[134] Underwood and songwriters, David Hodges and Hillary Lindsey, received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.[135] In March 2011, Underwood sang John Lennon's "Instant Karma!" at the NBC's special All Together Now - A Celebration of Service, which honored former President George H. W. Bush.[136] At the season ten finale of American Idol, Underwood selected a song for contestant Lauren Alaina to sing.[137]

Underwood is featured on "Remind Me", a duet with Brad Paisley that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, giving Underwood her eleventh number-one single on such chart and fourteenth overall. She has also a duet with Tony Bennett on his 2011 album Duets II[138] and another duet with Randy Travis on his 2011 Anniversary Celebration album. Underwood was one of the headliners of the iHeartRadio Music Festival. The event took place on September 23 and 24, 2011.[]

On September 19, Underwood performed "You Really Got a Hold on Me" in order to honor Smokey Robinson, as he was presented with the Ella Award at the Society of Singers annual dinner. Robinson returned the favor to Underwood by singing "My Girl" to her. At the same event, they sang together with Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole and other artists a medley of multiple songs.[139] In 2010, Underwood was reported by Forbes to have earned over $13 million from May 2009 to May 2010, being the top-earning Idol.[140] In July 2011, Forbes reported that Underwood earned over $20 million between May 2010 and May 2011, being the top-earning American Idol alumnus for the fourth consecutive year.[141]

On February 4, 2012, Underwood joined Steven Tyler to record CMT's Crossroads at the Pepsi Coliseum during the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam of Super Bowl XLVI.[142] It was the highest-rated episode in seven years.[143]

On February 12, 2012, Underwood and Tony Bennett performed their duet "It Had to Be You" at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.[144] They also sang the song on the season two premiere of Blue Bloods in September 2011.[145]

2012-2013: Blown Away and global tour

Underwood performing at the 2013 CMA Music Festival

Blown Away,[146] Underwood's fourth album, was released on May 1, 2012.[147] Underwood has said that this album features songs with a "darker storyline".[148] "Blown Away" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the Country Albums Chart and the Digital Albums chart in the US, selling more than 267,000 in its first week.[149] The first single, "Good Girl", was released to the iTunes Store on February 23, 2012. It was officially released to Country radio on February 27, 2012.[150][151] The music video for "Good Girl" premiered on Entertainment Tonight and on VEVO on March 12, 2012.[152] The song peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, giving Underwood her twelfth number-one on the chart,[153] and was certified Double Platinum and has sold over two million copies.[154] The song "Blown Away" was released as the second single from the album on July 9, 2012. It was a massive success, selling over 2 million copies, being certified Triple Platinum, reaching the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, the number-one spot on the Billboard Country Airplay and the Top 2 of the Top Country Songs, where it became Underwood's 16th Top 10 hit on Hot Country Songs chart, a record among women in the tally's 68-year history.[155] The album was the 7th best-selling album of 2012, the second best-selling country album of the year and the second best-selling release by a female artist in 2012.[156] It has been certified Double Platinum by the RIAA and sold over 1.7 million copies in the United States alone.[157] In August 2012, it was announced that Underwood would have her very own VH1 Unplugged (called "VH1 Presents: Carrie Underwood Unplugged") and VH1 Behind The Music episodes.[158] "Two Black Cadillacs", the third single from the album, was released on November 26. It became Underwood's 17th top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, extending her own record, later peaking at No. 2 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart and certified Platinum.[108][159] In March 2013, "See You Again" was released as the album's fourth single; it has peaked at number 2 on Country Airplay chart and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA.[160][161]

At the 2012 CMT Music Awards, Underwood won the awards for Video of the Year, for "Good Girl", and Collaborative Video of the Year, for "Remind Me", her duet with Brad Paisley. She also performed "Good Girl" at the ceremony.[162] At the 2012 American Music Awards, she won the award for Favorite Album - Country, for Blown Away, and performed "Two Black Cadillacs". In early 2013, Underwood won the prize for Top Selling International Album of the Year at the 41st Country Music Awards of Australia, held by the Country Music Association of Australia.[163][164] Also in February 2013, Underwood won her sixth Grammy Award, for Best Country Solo Performance, for "Blown Away".[165] She performed a medley of "Blown Away" and "Two Black Cadillacs" at the awards show. On February 13, Underwood received two nominations for the Academy of Country Music Awards.[166] She won International Album of the Year at the 2013 British Country Music Awards.[167] At the 2013 CMT Music Awards, Underwood won her 10th award, becoming the most awarded artist ever in CMT Music Awards history. She won Video of the Year for "Blown Away" for the fourth time, which also makes her the artist with the most wins ever in the category.[168][169][170] During the ceremony, she paid tribute to tornado victims in Oklahoma, by performing "See You Again" backed by a choir from Nashville's Christ Church.[171]

Underwood performing in Canada, during the Blown Away World Tour, 2012

On May 1, 2012, Underwood announced her international arena tour, the Blown Away Tour. The first leg consisted, besides the North American dates, of concerts in the UK, at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 21, 2012,[172] which sold out in 90 minutes,[173] and five shows in Australia, including a sold-out date at the Sydney Opera House, on July 2.[154] The first leg of the Blown Away Tour made Underwood the best-selling female country touring artist of 2012, grossing over $29.2 million and bringing her career tour revenues to over $95 million.[174] The tour had its own exhibition at the Country Music Hall of Fame, called "Carrie Underwood: The Blown Away Tour Exhibition", which ran from June 5 through November 10, 2013.[175] The second leg of the tour started in February 2013, with shows in Ireland, an additional show in England, as part of the C2C: Country to Country festival,[176] and several shows in North America. All dates of the second leg of the Blown Away Tour were sold out, breaking records.[177] Underwood wrapped the Blown Away Tour in late May 2013, playing to one million fans across three continents and six countries. Her three headline arena tours have played to over 3.2 million fans combined.[178] On May 31, it was announced on Underwood's official site that she would release The Blown Away Tour: LIVE, a DVD with nearly 100 minutes of performance footage, behind-the-scene looks, interviews, and music videos from the album Blown Away. The DVD was released on August 13, 2013, and is Underwood's first official DVD concert.[179]

On February 22, 2013, Billboard ranked Underwood as the 16th money maker for the period from February 2012 to February 2013. She earned close to $12 million, being American Idol's Top Earner and second for female country artists.[180] In June 2013, Forbes placed Underwood at No. 46 on The Celebrity 100 list, reporting that she earned more than $31 million between June 2012 and June 2013, being the top-earning American Idol.[181][182]

On January 21, 2013, "Can't Stop Lovin' You", a song by rock band Aerosmith with featured vocals by Underwood, was released as a single.[183][184]

On May 25, Underwood joined The Rolling Stones onstage during the stop of the band's 50 and Counting Tour in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They performed "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)".[185][186] On September 22, 2013, at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, she was part of the Emmy Awards' special tribute honoring the 50th Anniversary of 1963 Television Milestones, which includes the assassination coverage of President John F. Kennedy and The Beatles' first US appearance. She performed one of The Beatles' iconic songs, "Yesterday".[187][188]

2014-2015: Greatest Hits: Decade #1

Pregnant Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry, December 2014

Underwood confirmed that she began planning a new album in August 2013 and would start prep work sometime in 2014.[189] Underwood told Billboard, "After The Sound of Music, I feel like I can really buckle down and start working on the next album." Underwood also stated she has been planning another tour, which might be toned down from her earlier ones, stating, "I haven't thought about it much because I don't know what the next album is going to sound like, but I like just standing there and singing, too. I may take a different approach, a more simple approach on the next one. I loved the energy that rock concerts had," Underwood told Billboard.[190] Underwood is featured on Miranda Lambert's album Platinum, on a song called "Somethin' Bad".[191] Released as a single, "Somethin' Bad" reached No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, becoming Underwood's 13th number-one on the chart. The same week, the song vaulted to No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100.[192]

In early 2014, she performed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, paying tribute to Linda Ronstadt.[193] Her performances were highly acclaimed by critics and even by Stevie Nicks, who performed with Underwood.[194] In September, Underwood headlined the 2014 Global Citizen Festival, alongside Jay-Z, No Doubt and other music acts.[195] Her cover of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" during her performance was highly praised.[196][197] She headlined the 2014 Concert for Valor in November, alongside Eminem, Metallica, Foo Fighters, and other music acts, where she was backed by the Singing Sergeants of the US Air Force during the performance of "Something in the Water".[198] Underwood was asked by Bono himself to front U2's World AIDS Day (RED) Concert, alongside U2, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay's Chris Martin, and Kanye West, on December 1, 2014. She was joined on stage by U2 guitarist The Edge during a performance of her song "Change", which received acclaim.[199]

The Academy of Country Music awarded Underwood the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, for her widespread exposure through NFL Sunday Night Football, the live NBC broadcast of The Sound of Music, her worldwide Blown Away Tour and her charity work with the American Red Cross and her C.A.T.S. Foundation.[200] At the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, Underwood won the Milestone Award, for which she had been nominated due to her chart success, especially her record of having the best starting run ever by a woman on the Country Airplay chart (18 top ten hits on the chart).[201][202][203]Time listed Underwood as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, placing her in the "Icons" category.[204] She won the award for Favorite Female Country Artist at the American Music Awards, marking her eighth career AMA.[205] She was named 2014's top female Christian artist by Billboard.[206] In 2015 at the 57th Grammy Awards, Underwood won Best Country Solo Performance for "Something in the Water", marking her seventh career Grammy Award.[207][208] At the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, she won the award for Top Christian Song for "Something in the Water".[209] At the 2015 CMT Music Awards, Underwood won three awards, including Video of the Year for "Something in the Water".[210] She won her ninth American Music Award in 2015, winning Favorite Female Country Artist.[211]

In September 2014, Underwood appeared on The Today Show, where she announced her first greatest hits compilation, Greatest Hits: Decade #1, which was released on December 9.[212][213] The album's lead single, "Something in the Water", became a crossover success. It reached No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, becoming her fourteenth number-one hit on that chart and her second in 2014.[214] With fourteen number ones, she holds the record as the female country artist with the most number-one hits on the Hot Country Songs chart in the Nielsen SoundScan era (since 1991) in the Guinness Book.[215] The song topped the Hot Christian Songs chart and has held the top spot for multiple consecutive weeks.[214] It debuted at No. 24 on the Hot 100 chart as well.[216] The song set and broke multiple airplay records on Country radio in its first week. In February 2015, "Little Toy Guns" was released as the second single from the compilation. The track peaked at number six on Billboard's Hot Country Songs, number two on the Country Airplay Chart and number 47 on the Hot 100. The song was nominated for Best Country Solo Performance at the 58th Grammy Awards. The compilation debuted with the biggest sales debut for a hits collection in any genre of music in more than six years and the biggest first-week sales for a female hits album in any genre in over nine years.[217][218]

2015-2017: Storyteller

Underwood returned to the studio to finish her fifth studio album in the spring of 2015.[219][220] On August 20, 2015, via live Facebook stream, Underwood announced her album would be titled Storyteller and was scheduled to be released on October 23, 2015. The lead single, "Smoke Break", was serviced to radio immediately following the announcement.[221]Storyteller debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, making Underwood the only country artist to have their first five studio albums debut at Nos. 1 or 2 on the Billboard 200.[222] In addition, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart, earning Underwood another record as the only artist to score six consecutive number-one albums on that chart.[223]Storyteller has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA.[41]

The album's second single, "Heartbeat", became Underwood's 14th leader on the Country Airplay while the album's third single, "Church Bells", became her 15th career No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart, both extending her record for the most number one's among women in the history of the chart.[224] Underwood became the first female artist to score two number one hits on the Country Airplay chart in 2016.[225] A fourth single, "Dirty Laundry", was released from the album in August 2016.[226]Billboard ranked Underwood as the top female country artist for the year, and fifth overall.[227]

Underwood launched the Storyteller Tour, her fifth headlining tour, in January 2016, with a second half picking up in August. The tour has since played to over 1 million fans, completing 92 shows across 7 countries while being named by Billboard the top country tour for the first half of the year.[228]

In June 2016, Underwood received three nominations from the CMT Music Awards, taking home two honors for "Smoke Break", expanding her CMT Music Award total to 15--the most among all acts.[229] She was named Female Vocalist of the Year by the American Country Countdown Awards in 2016,[230] and also received the CMA Chairman's Award.[231] In July, she picked up her fifth Teen Choice Award, for Choice Country Artist.[232] Underwood also received two nominations from the Billboard Music Awards, including Top Country Artist.[233] In September 2016, Underwood was the first artist to receive the ACM Lifting Lives Gary Haber Award, for her continuous work with charities.[234]

On October 20, 2016, Underwood was honored as one of CMT Artists of the Year, marking her third year to receive the award.[235] Underwood received four nominations for the 50th annual Country Music Association Awards, including her first nomination for Entertainer of the Year.[236] She walked away with Female Vocalist of the Year, her fourth time to win the award.[237] She further received three nominations for the 2016 American Music Awards, including the top prize for Artist of the Year.[238] She won Favorite Female Country Artist for the fourth time and Favorite Country Album (for Storyteller) for the fifth time, expanding her record as the only artist to win the award for all albums released.[239]

Underwood was one of 30 artists to perform on "Forever Country", a mash-up track of "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "On the Road Again", and "I Will Always Love You" celebrating 50 years of the CMA Awards.[240] The single debuted at number one on Billboard's Hot Country Songs.[241] In December 2016, she joined Keith Urban for a series of concerts in Australia and New Zealand.[242]

In January 2017, she received her ninth People's Choice award, winning Favorite Female Country Artist.[243] Underwood received one nomination - Best Country Solo Performance - for her single "Church Bells" for the 59th annual Grammy awards.[244] She and Keith Urban performed their new single, "The Fighter," at the Grammy ceremony.[245] Their joint single peaked in the top two of the Hot Country Songs and top twenty of the adult contemporary chart and was certified platinum by the RIAA within the same year of its release.[246]

She received two nominations for the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards, including Entertainer of the Year.[247] She scored three more nominations for the 2017 CMT Music Awards in June, including Video of the Year for "Church Bells."[248] She won Female Video of the year, extending her record for most wins in the show's history.[249] Underwood scored two nominations for the 2017 Teen Choice awards, including Choice Country Artist, which she won for a third consecutive year.[250] She received one nomination from the 45th annual American Music Awards in the Favorite Female Artist - Country category, which she won for the fourth year in a row, bringing her total to twelve American Music awards.

Underwood performing in 2018.

In January 2017, Underwood announced that she would be taking some time off at the beginning of the year to spend time with family, and would then, possibly, begin to write for her next album.[251][252] On March 28, 2017, it was announced that Underwood had signed with Universal Music Group's Capitol Records Nashville after being with Arista Nashville for nearly twelve years.[253]Madame Tussauds unveiled a new figure of Underwood when the Nashville location opened in April 2017.[254] Christian singer Matthew West announced he had collaborated with Underwood, who performed background vocals on the song "Something Greater" from his album, All In (2017).[255] The Country Music Association announced that Underwood and Brad Paisley would be returning to host the CMA Awards in November, marking their 10th consecutive year as hosts.[256] Underwood again received a nomination in the Female Vocalist category, her twelfth nomination to date.[257] She performed "Softly and Tenderly" as part of a tribute to the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting, and the performance received widespread acclaim.[258]

In October 2017, Underwood announced via Instagram that she would be releasing her second concert experience - The Storyteller Tour: Live from Madison Square Garden. It was made available digitally on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Qello Concerts on November 17.[259][260]

2017-present: Injury, "The Champion" and Cry Pretty

A few days after the CMA Awards in November 2017, Underwood sustained injuries in a fall at home that resulted in a broken wrist and several facial stitches. Underwood did not make any public appearances for several months following the incident.

In January 2018, Underwood released "The Champion", a promotional duet single featuring Ludacris for Super Bowl LII. Unlike any of her previous releases, "The Champion" is Underwood's first under the pop genre. The single itself debuted at number one on iTunes, where it remained for a week following its release.[261] The song debuted at number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, powered by its launch at number three on the Digital Song Sales chart with 61,000 downloads.[262]

Underwood met songwriter/producer David Garcia in 2017, whom she began co-producing her new album with.[263] On April 8, 2018, Underwood announced via social media that she would be returning to the stage for the first time since her accident and would debut her new single "Cry Pretty" at the 53rd Annual ACM Awards on April 15, where she received two nominations; she won the award for Vocal Event of the Year for "The Fighter" with Keith Urban.[264]

On April 18, Underwood announced the title of her sixth studio album, Cry Pretty, scheduled for release on September 14, 2018.[265]

On May 11, she celebrated a decade of being an Opry member; the celebration lasted over a two-day duration, and included several special guests, including Randy Travis, who had invited her into the Opry ten years prior.[266] On May 13, Underwood returned to American Idol, now rebooted on ABC, to mentor the top five of the season sixteen contestants. She performed "Cry Pretty", in addition to "See You Again" with the remaining top five contestants.[267]

Underwood received four nominations and one win for the 2018 CMT Music Awards. She performed at the ceremony and expanded her record as the artist with the most wins in the show's history.[268] She again received a nomination for Choice Country Artist and "Cry Pretty" received a nomination for Choice Country Song for the Teen Choice awards.[269] On June 22, Underwood was honored with the Hero award from the Radio Disney Music Awards, in recognition of her many humanitarian efforts over the last decade.[270] She and Ludacris performed their song "The Champion" together at the awards ceremony.[271]



Underwood has been highly acclaimed for her vocal talents. David Wild of Rolling Stone has praised her voice, saying that "she can hit any note".[272] Her vocal range has been described as "enormous", with critics highlighting her ability to hold notes for an extended period of time. Billboard describes her vocal ability as "freakish".[273] Concert critics have pointed out that "she'll let loose with an improbably long note that runs through more octaves than you knew existed".[274] When asked if it ever becomes difficult to belt at such high intensity during her 90-120 minute live shows, Underwood responded, "I'm too proud to drop keys. I won't do it. Maybe the older I get, I'll write some songs in lower keys so it'll be easier. I've always been pretty good as far as stamina onstage. Being able to work out and stay physically strong is important... So far, it's worked for me. I'm just blessed at being able to be loud for long periods of time."[275] Fellow country music singer Randy Travis paid high praises to Underwood's voice when asked about her cover of his 1988 hit song "I Told You So", saying that "her voice is so much better suited to the song. I have a baritone voice, and her soprano voice really fits well with the range of the song. Her ability to get into the upper register of her voice and just hold those high notes is great."[276] Her voice has also been praised as "versatile".[277] She has indeed performed live versions of gospel songs like "How Great Thou Art", in which Yahoo! critics noticed her ability to move an audience with a "powerful performance",[125] and Rock songs like Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City", with Rolling Stone critics saying it was a "standout performance", adding that "when the song reached its crescendo, the singer went right over the edge with it, twirling like a tornado and tossing in more than a few banshee wails" and even saying "if the original members of Guns N' Roses ever wanted to reunite without Axl Rose, they might be wise to ask Carrie Underwood to fill his bandana".[278]


Underwood has credited "music as a whole" as her major influence, since she "grew up listening to music" and "there were songs, different kind of songs coming at me from everywhere".[279] But she has occasionally mentioned Rock acts like Queen, George Michael, The Rolling Stones, and My Chemical Romance as influences.[280] Among Country artists, she has listed George Strait,[281]Dolly Parton,[282]Randy Travis,[283]Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, and Garth Brooks as influences.[284] Although never publicly mentioning Faith Hill and Shania Twain as musical influences, critics have linked Underwood's musical style to those of Hill and Twain.[285] Her music is generally Country pop with Rock influence similar to that of Kelly Clarkson, as noticed by Rolling Stone.[286] She has also released songs with Christian music influence.[287]


Underwood performing during the Blown Away World Tour, May 2013

Since her debut in 2005, Underwood has been praised by both veteran artists and music critics. Rolling Stone describes Underwood as "the female vocalist of her generation of any genre",[288] while Billboard magazine refers to her as Country Music's reigning Queen.[289]

Grady Smith of The Guardian has praised her, saying "Carrie Underwood has emerged as the leader of country music".[290]Time listed her in their 100 most influential people in the world in 2014, in which Brad Paisley wrote "not only has she earned her place, she's also raised the bar: she's a prolific songwriter, a trendsetter and an Opry member", and further considers her to be "the best singer in any format of music."[204][291]Vince Gill has also stated: "The possibility of Carrie's longevity is through the roof. There are fine singers, and there are gifted, great singers, and she's one of those. Her vocal skills are off the hook".[291]Melissa Etheridge also adds saying "she has a power in her country music, in her singing. She can crossover to Rock in a second".[272] She has further received public commendation from Stevie Nicks,[292]Steven Tyler,[293]Tony Bennett,[294]Dolly Parton,[282][295][296] and Loretta Lynn.[297]David Wild of Rolling Stone has stated that "Carrie Underwood is the greatest thing that American Idol ever gave us".[272] She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2017,[298] and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018, for her achievements in music.[299]

Underwood has influenced pop girl group Fifth Harmony,[300] singer Mollie King of British pop girl group The Saturdays,[301] singer Kelsea Ballerini,[302][303]The Voice winner Danielle Bradbery,[304]American Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina,[305] and singer and actress Lucy Hale.[306]


Underwood has been the recipient of seven Grammy Awards,[208] ten Billboard Music Awards,[307] fourteen Academy of Country Music Awards,[308] twelve American Music Awards,[309] eight Country Music Association Awards,[310] six Teen Choice Awards, three CMT Artists of the Year awards,[311] and seventeen CMT Music Awards, among others. As a songwriter, she has also received a Golden Globe Award nomination[312] and won ten BMI Awards.[313][314] Underwood was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008,[315] for her many accomplishments in country music, and into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2009.[316] Further, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2017, the highest honor one can receive from the state. In December 2009, she was awarded the prestigious Harmony Award from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra for her achievements in music across many genres.[317] In 2013, she received Artist Achievement Award at the 38th Annual New York Honors Gala held by the T.J. Martell Foundation.[318] In 2014, she was honored by the Country Radio Broadcasters' Board of Directors with the CRB Artist Humanitarian Award at the 2014 Country Radio Seminar.[319]

Regarded as one of the most successful artists in any musical genre,[320][321] as of 2015, Underwood has sold more than 65 million records worldwide.[322] In the US, she has sold 16.3 million albums[323] making her the best-selling album artist in history of the American Idol franchise, with Billboard calling her the ultimate Idol success story.[324][325]Forbes has declared Underwood the most successful American Idol winner of all time, with more albums sold and more revenue generated than any of the other contestants in the show's 15 seasons.[326] Underwood had a fast commercial impact on the music industry, with her debut album, Some Hearts, becoming the fastest-selling debut country album in the history of the SoundScan era,[33][34] the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history,[35] the best-selling Country album of the last 14 years,[36] and the best-selling album by an American Idol alum in the US.[37] With her debut single, "Inside Your Heaven", 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.[24] "Inside Your Heaven" is the only single by a solo country artist in the 2000 decade to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart.[25] With the singles from her second album, Carnival Ride, she became the first female country artist since Shania Twain in 1995 to pull four number-one's from one album.[74] In 2010, with the singles of her third album, Play On, she achieved ten career number-one singles on the Hot Country Songs, an achievement for which she was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the female country artist with the most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart (since accurate sales records were introduced in the US in 1991), tied with Reba McEntire.[215] With such a feat, she became the only female artist in country music history to have eleven consecutive top two singles; at that time, she had twelve official country singles: ten number-ones. She also became the first woman to score ten number-ones on such a chart since Rosanne Cash in 1988.[327] She then broke and expanded her Guinness Book record by scoring four more number-one singles on the Hot Country Songs between 2011 and 2014, for a total of fourteen number-ones.[214] She is also the woman with the most number-ones in the history of the Billboard Country Airplay chart, having had 15 leaders.[224] Notably, Underwood's first twenty-seven singles promoted to country radio all reached the top 10 of both the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, the longest streak of top ten singles by a country artist from the start of a career.[328] The Recording Industry Association of America recognizes Underwood as the Top Country Artist of all time and the fifth highest-certified female artist on its Top Artists (Digital Songs) raking,[329] with 30 million certified units.[330] Underwood is also the highest certified Country album artist to debut in the 21st century.[331] Since May 2011, Underwood is the Biggest American Idol Earner, with, at the time of the press release, over $66 million in tour revenues, besides her records sales.[332] She is the fourth biggest album seller of the past 10 years in the United States.[333]

Other ventures

Product endorsements

Underwood has had many endorsements throughout her career. She has signed multimillion-dollar deals with Skechers, Target, Nintendo, Olay, Nicole by OPI, Hershey's, Almay and Dick's Sporting Goods. In 2005, Underwood appeared in a Skechers global advertising campaign. In 2007, Underwood appeared in Target advertisements promoting her album Carnival Ride. The limited edition of the album which included a behind the scenes DVD was exclusively sold at Target.[334] In 2008, Underwood worked with Nintendo for the launch of their Nintendo DS appearing in various television commercials.[335] That same year, Underwood became the spokesperson for Vitamin Water starring in television and magazine advertisements. Underwood also hosts a guide to a healthy lifestyle on Vitamin Water's website.[336] In 2010, Underwood became the spokesperson for the Pedigree adoption drive. In 2011, she became the first celebrity brand ambassador for Olay skin care. Underwood has appeared in the global advertising campaign for their facial wash.[337]

In January 2014, Underwood signed a deal with Nicole by OPI to launch 14 new nail lacquers.[338] In the same month, Almay announced Underwood had signed a deal to serve as Almay's global brand ambassador, where she would appear in TV and print advertisements for the brand later that month.[339]

In March 2015, Underwood released a fitness clothing line named CALIA by Carrie Underwood. In collaboration with Dick's Sporting Goods, the line features clothing that is intended to be suitable for both active and casual wear.[340]


Underwood established the Checotah Animal, Town, and School Foundation in 2009. The foundation helps with general causes, needs and services in the area of Checotah to directly impact the community.[341] "My hometown is extremely supportive of me and I feel blessed to be able to create something as a way of giving back; to say thank you," said Underwood.[342][343]

Underwood is a supporter of arts education. In 2009, Underwood's foundation "Checotah Animal, Town & School Foundation" and the Academy of Country Music foundation "ACM Lifting Lives" partnered to give students in Checotah, Oklahoma a gift valued at more than $120,000 in new instruments for their music programs.[344] Underwood held a surprise concert at a local high school and then unveiled the gifts. The instruments will be shared throughout the Checotah school district and were ordered through Yamaha Corporate Artist Affairs at a special philanthropic price.[344] During the 2011 holiday season, her foundation donated $350,000 to the Checotah schools.[345]

Underwood is a supporter of animal rights. Underwood is a supporter of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and has done several public service announcements for the organization.[346] Underwood has also done a "Protect Your Pets" public service announcement for Do Something.[347] In 2010, Underwood became the official spokesperson for the Pedigree adoption drive.[348] On March 29, 2010, Underwood and Pedigree partnered to donate $10,000 to a New York City Animal Shelter. In April 2011, Underwood opened the Happy Paws Animal Shelter in her hometown.[349] On January 10, 2012, it was reported but had previously been blogged by Underwood herself on her official fan-site, that the singer rescued an abandoned dog along highway.[350]

Underwood and her husband made a video for the "Do It for Daron" campaign urging young people to stop bullying.[351] In July 2012, she publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. She told the British newspaper The Independent, "As a married person myself, I don't know what it's like to be told I can't marry somebody I love and want to marry," she said. "I can't imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love." Underwood went on to say, "Our church is gay-friendly. Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or [saying] 'everyone has to be like me'. No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody."[352]

Underwood launched the Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives Temporary Home Fund in 2010. The Fund specifically benefits victims of the Tennessee floods of early 2010 and it was kicked off with grants that Underwood received from ACM as Entertainer of the Year. She also teamed up with Brooks and Dunn to support the new Fund by recording a Public Service Announcement (PSA).[353]

Underwood is involved with several organizations that benefit children. In January 2010, she partnered with Country Cares for St. Jude Kids visiting the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.[354] In February 2011, Underwood donated $140,125 to Save the Children.[355] This charitable initiative was inspired by the "36 cents" written in the lyrics of Underwood's album track "Change" on her album Play On, which addresses how even the smallest bit of spare change that one might have can add up to make a difference and help "change" the world.[355]

Underwood is a supporter of the United Service Organization, Clothes off our back, and Habitat For Humanity.[356] To benefit cancer research, in August 2008, Underwood joined Beyonce;, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Miley Cyrus, and other female artists to record the song "Just Stand Up!" The proceeds benefited Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C). As a result of their fund raising efforts, the SU2C scientific advisory committee, overseen by the American Association for Cancer Research was able to award $73.6 million towards novel, groundbreaking research.[357] The song peaked at No. 11 on Billboard's Hot 100 Songs.

In May 2012, Underwood announced that she would donate $1 of every ticket sold on Blown Away Tour to the American Red Cross.[358] On May 24, 2013, Underwood announced that she would be donating $1 million in proceeds from her recent Blown Away Tour to the Red Cross for relief efforts in response to the Oklahoma tornado. "I have watched the devastation in my home state of Oklahoma over the past several days with great sadness," Underwood said in a statement. "With the help of my fans who attended my concerts over the past year, we can offer the Red Cross a little extra help in comforting those affected by the recent tornados." Neal Litvack, chief development officer for the Red Cross, said, "The impact of the tornados in Oklahoma and the Midwest was devastating and the road to recovery will be long for many families. Through the generosity of Carrie, the American Red Cross can quickly respond with shelter, food and comfort now, and with lasting help as they move toward recovery."[]


Underwood appeared on How I Met Your Mother in March 2010. She played the role of Tiffany, a medical sales rep that forms a relationship with Ted.[359] This was the second highest rated episode for season five, gaining 10.48 million viewers. Brian Zoromski of IGN gave the episode 8.5 out of 10. He was surprised how well Underwood performed in her first acting role.[360] A few months earlier, she appeared in an episode of the PBS children's television series Sesame Street, performing a voice-over as "Carrie Underworm" a worm who sings a song about worm pride before an auto race Sesame street is holding.[361]

Underwood made her film debut in Soul Surfer in April 2011. She played Sarah Hill, the church youth leader who helped Bethany Hamilton overcome the obstacles she faced after the shark attack.[362][363]

NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt announced on November 30, 2012, that Underwood would star in the coveted role of Maria von Trapp in NBC's live broadcast of The Sound of Music, based on the original Broadway musical.[364] The three-hour telecast aired on December 5, 2013,[365] partnering NBC with the producing team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. "To have a star like Carrie Underwood perform Maria in The Sound of Music, and in such a very special and unique production, is exciting beyond words," said Ted Chapin, President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. "Part of the magic of Rodgers and Hammerstein is how their work has adapted itself to so many different incarnations, and I am certain the fresh spirit Underwood brings to her own songs will transition into exciting versions of the classic songs we all know and love."[366]

Personal life


Underwood began dating NHL player Mike Fisher after they met at one of her concerts in late 2008, and she became engaged to him in December 2009.[367] On July 10, 2010, Underwood and Fisher wed at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia, with more than 250 people in attendance.[368][369] The couple's son Isaiah was born in 2015.[370]

On February 11, 2011, an Ottawa radio station, 105.3 CISS-FM, stated that it would ban the playing of Underwood's music because her husband, Mike Fisher, was traded to the Nashville Predators the day before. Due to Underwood's fans' threats on Facebook to never tune into the radio station, the station later modified its statement. It apologized for its actions, saying that its statements were meant to be taken as a joke, as it does not play Underwood's country songs anyway, and it was its tongue-in-cheek way of wishing Fisher the best of luck in Nashville.[371][372] Fisher later criticized the station saying "obviously Carrie had nothing to do with the move or the trade or anything so to imply something like that was just wrong", and noting that both he and Underwood were disappointed in the negativity that was created by the radio station.[373][374] Underwood was selected by The Hockey News on its annual list of the 100 People of Power and Influence in Ice Hockey. For the 2012 list, Underwood ranked at No. 85.[375]


According to Forbes, Underwood earned $7 million between 2006 and 2007,[66] $9 million between 2007 and 2008,[93] $14 million between 2008 and 2009,[94] $13 million between 2009 and 2010,[140] $20 million between 2010 and 2011,[141] $5 million between 2011 and 2012,[376] $31 million between 2012 and 2013,[182][377] $10 million between 2013 and 2014,[378] $8 million between 2014 and 2015,[379] $26 million between 2015 and 2016,[380] and $20 million between 2016 and 2017,[381] totalling $166 million in her career. She had earned over $83 million by 2014, being named the top-earning Idol alum of all time.[287][382]

In 2010, Underwood and Fisher bought a mansion on eleven acres near Ottawa, Canada in the luxurious Spruce Ridge district. The couple later put the mansion up for sale at an asking price of $2.2 million.[383] In 2012, the couple bought a cottage outside of Nashville. They use the cottage for weekend getaways. Oprah toured the cottage and interviewed Underwood and Fisher there for their appearance on Oprah's Next Chapter.[384]

In January 2014, it was reported that Underwood topped the 2013 list of the highest-paid American Idol alumni, reportedly earning $31 million. Not only more than any other American Idol contestant, this total also exceeded the annual earnings of 2013 judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban.[382]

Personal interests

Underwood performs at Super Bowl XLIV, February 2010

Underwood is a practicing Christian.[385][386] Underwood is an animal lover and a vegan.[387] She stopped eating meat at the age of thirteen because she could not stand the thought of eating one of her own animals. She was voted "World's Sexiest Vegetarian" by PETA[388] in 2007 for the second time, the first being in 2005 alongside Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, who was himself a vegetarian at the time.[388][389]

In a 2007 interview with PETA, Underwood stated, "Ever since I was little I loved animals [...] If you told me I could never sing again, I'd say that was horrible, but it's not my life. If you told me I could never be around animals again, I would just die."[390]

In April 2013, Underwood spoke out with disapproval regarding the Tennessee "Ag Gag bill".[391] The bill makes it a crime to videotape animal cruelty or abuse and then fail to turn in the evidence to authorities within 48 hours. This is to stop animal rights activists from accumulating enough documentation to prove that animal cruelty is routine in big agribusiness.[392] Underwood tweeted, "Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill. If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who's with me?"[393] State Rep. Andy Holt responded to her tweet, saying, "I would say that Carrie Underwood will stick to singing, I'll stick to lawmaking."[394] Underwood later responded via Twitter, "I should stick to singing? Wow...sorry, I'm just a tax paying citizen concerned for the safety of my family. #NoAgGag".[395] She also tweeted Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, saying "Please don't sign the Ag Gag bill. Think about the welfare of the animals as well as the consumers. I'm begging you..."[396]

Underwood has stated that she has a great interest in sports. She has participated in the annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball tournament for charity for many years. The event takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, and benefits research for life-threatening diseases.[397] In 2005, she performed the "Star-Spangled Banner" at Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons,[398] and in 2006 at the NBA All-Star Game.[399] She performed at halftime of the 2006 Thanksgiving Day football game at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, and was friends with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.[400] She also performed the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the NFC Championship Game between the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers in 2006,[401] as well as at the 2006 edition of NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600,[402] the MLB All Star Game in Pittsburgh, and at Game 3 of the 2007 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies.[403] On February 7, 2010, Underwood performed the National Anthem for Super Bowl XLIV.[404]

On May 7, 2013, it was announced that Underwood will perform the opening theme song for NBC Sunday Night Football, replacing Faith Hill.[405] Hill later expressed full support for Underwood, congratulating her via Twitter and stating that it was "an awesome choice" by NBC/SNF and that Underwood "will rock it".[406] She sang the National Anthem for the Nashville Predators prior to their 3-2 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.






Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
2005 American Idol Contestant Season 4 winner
2007-2008 Saturday Night Live Musical guest[407]
2008-present Country Music Association Awards Herself/Co-host[408] Alongside Brad Paisley
2008-present CMA Music Festival Herself Yearly Special of Performances from that Years CMA Fest
2009 Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special Herself
2009 Sesame Street Carrie Underworm (voice) "Squirmadega Car Race" (Dec. 28); song: "The Worm Anthem"
2010 How I Met Your Mother Tiffany Episode: "Hooked"
2010 The Buried Life Herself
2010 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Herself
2011 Blue Bloods Herself
2011 Soul Surfer Sarah Hill Film debut
2012 Zendaya: Behind the Scenes Herself Documentary
2012 CMT Crossroads Herself (with Steven Tyler)[142]
2013 The Blown Away Tour: Live Herself Concert Film
2013-2014 Nashville Herself (2 episodes)
2013 The Sound of Music Live! Maria Rainir/von Trapp NBC original production
2014 CMA Country Christmas Herself
2016 Talking Dead Herself Discussion of The Walking Dead episode "No Way Out"
2016 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Herself
2017 The Storyteller Tour: Live from Madison Square Garden Herself Concert Film (Available digitally only)
2017 Living Every Day: Luke Bryan Herself TV Special

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  • Tracey, Kathleen. Carrie Underwood: American Idol IV. September 2005. Blue Banner Biography series (Juvenile) ISBN 1-58415-425-X

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