Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” is her 12th #1

Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood
Superstar Carrie Underwood’s gorgeous “Temporary Home” today becomes the 12th #1 single of her career and the second chart-topper from her Platinum-certified Play On collection. Sprinting to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs in just 18 weeks, the song hit the chart summit faster than any other single this year.

One of seven tracks that Underwood co-wrote for Play On – and her fifth co-written single to top the charts – “Temporary Home” may portray poignant life moments, but the message is one that Carrie has always seen as uplifting, as she says, “It’s hopeful, and each person in each story, in each different place in their life, knows that things are going to be okay.”

On the CMT Top Twenty Countdown episode that premiered this past Friday, the touching music video for “Temporary Home” topped the countdown for the fifth consecutive week.

Fans can also be looking for Carrie as she makes a home on the cover of the April issue of Allure magazine, on sale now.

The only American Idol winner ever to achieve 12 #1 hits, Underwood’s collection of chart-toppers began with the instant success of her post-American Idol single, “Inside Your Heaven,” which debuted atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in the summer of 2005. It was the first of five #1s to top the BDS or Mediabase charts from her 7x-Platinum debut, Some Hearts, with the others including the GRAMMY-winning “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats,” “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” and “Wasted.”

The five-time GRAMMY winner, ACM Entertainer of the Year, and three-time CMA and ACM Female Vocalist winner is also the first country artist in history ever to achieve 10 #1 singles on the strength of their first two albums when “I Told You So” became the fifth consecutive chart-topper from Carrie’s second album – the triple-Platinum Carnival Ride – which also included “Just a Dream” and three hits Carrie co-wrote: “So Small,” “All-American Girl,” and “Last Name.”

Carrie Underwood’s earns Top Country Album of the Decade

Carrie Underwood
Six weeks since the release of country superstar Carrie Underwood’s new album Play On, which has yielded the #1 hit, “Cowboy Casanova,” and brand-new heart-wrenching single, “Temporary Home,” the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year received an early holiday surprise. Billboard announces that Carrie’s Some Hearts is the Top Country Album of the Decade.

Also included in Billboard’s year-end special double issue is the acknowledgement that her feisty smash, “Before He Cheats” (#8), is the only female showing in the Top 20 Hot Country Songs of the Decade.

The 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville hit-maker’s TV appearances this week include an encore airing of, “Carrie Underwood: An All-American Holiday Special” on Fox, Tuesday, December 22, 8-10 pm/7-9 pm Central and “A Home For The Holidays” on CBS, Wednesday, December 23, 8-9 pm/7-9 pm Central. On both shows, she will perform her current single, “Temporary Home,” which she co-penned with Luke Laird and Zac Maloy.

A four-time GRAMMY Award winner, ACM Entertainer of the Year, and reigning, three-time CMA and ACM Female Vocalist winner, Carrie’s Play On re-teams her with producer Mark Bright, who helmed her Carnival Ride collection as well as seven tracks from her 2005 album debut, Some Hearts. To date, Underwood has amassed more than 11 million in U.S. album sales with Some Hearts, 2007’s Carnival Ride and 2009’s Play On. Along the way, she has consistently broken new ground and earlier this year became the first country artist in history and the only American Idol winner ever to achieve ten #1 singles from their first two albums. When “Cowboy Casanova,” the debut single from Play On, recently achieved #1, Carrie’s string of uninterrupted #1s increased to 11.

Carrie Underwood announced “Play On Tour”

carrie-underwood-play-onCarrie Underwood fans were excited today when they learned one of country music’s most prolific and versatile power vocalists has just announced performances across North America as her new headline 2010 tour launches next spring. The “Play On Tour,” hydrated by vitaminwater®, will kick off March 11, 2010 with special guests Craig Morgan and Sons of Sylvia. The first leg of 45 shows runs through May 30 with tickets for all shows going on sale starting next Friday, December 18.

“I am getting so excited about next year as we are currently working through all the big plans for the tour,” says Underwood. “I cannot wait to perform new music and see familiar faces across the U.S. and Canada!”

Underwood spent this past year writing and recording for her new album PLAY ON and performed a few select concerts. Her previous tour, 2008’s highly successful “Carnival Ride Tour” wrapped after 137 shows with 1.2 million fans in attendance.

Underwood recently launched her third album, PLAY ON, at the #1 spot on both the country and pop album sales charts and has sold over 700,000 copies in 5 weeks. The release earned the highest first-week sales of the year for any solo country artist at that point and makes Carrie the only country act in Nielsen SoundScan history to achieve first-week sales of more than 300,000 units on each of their first three albums. The feat also extends to American Idol, where the Season Four winner is the first contestant to launch three albums in a row above the 300K threshold, with her 2005 debut, Some Hearts, now seven-times Platinum, and 2007’s Carnival Ride currently triple-Platinum.

Underwood is a four-time GRAMMY winner, ACM Entertainer of the Year, a three-time CMA and three-time reigning ACM Female Vocalist winner, and a member of the Grand Ole Opry with total album sales now in excess of 11 million.

Craig Morgan is signed to Sony Music Nashville’s BNA Records label, and released his fifth studio album, That’s Why, last fall. His latest hit, the anthemic “Bonfire,” is currently Top 5 at country radio and headed for the top of the charts. Last year Morgan received one of country music’s highest honors – he was inducted into the membership of the Grand Ole Opry. Morgan has made more than 150 appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and plays over 200 sold-out concerts a year. He spent ten years on active duty in the U.S. Army before launching his music career and makes a point to perform as often as possible at U.S. military installations both in the U.S. and abroad.

Sons of Sylvia are currently finishing up their debut album release on 19 Recordings/Interscope Records due out in 2010. Ashley, Austin, and Adam Clark (formerly known as The Clark Brothers who won FOX’s Next Great American Band) are longtime friends of Underwood, and the band is currently featured on her new album in a powerful collaboration called “What Can I Say.”

Please go to www.carrieunderwood.fm for up-to-date tour information.

Date City Venue
March 11 Reading, PA Sovereign Center
March 12 Albany, NY Times Union Center
March 13 Providence, RI Dunkin Donuts Center
March 15 Portland, ME Cumberland County Civic Center
March 16 Bridgeport, CT Arena at HarborYard
March 19 Atlantic City, NJ Boardwalk Hall
March 20 Mashantucket, CT MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods
March 21 Worcester, MA DCU Center
March 23 Hamilton, Ontario Copps Coliseum
March 24 Kanata, Ontario Scotiabank Place
March 26 Trenton, NJ Sun National Bank Center
March 27 Amherst, MA Mullins Center
March 29 Wilkes Barre, PA Wachovia Arena
March 31 Rochester, NY BlueCross Arena
April 1 Pittsburgh, PA Petersen Civic Center
April 3 Pikeville, KY Eastern Kentucky Expo Center
April 6 Columbus, OH Schottenstein Center
April 7 Peoria, IL Peoria Civic Center
April 9 Indianapolis, IN Conseco Fieldhouse
April 10 Rockford, IL Rockford MetroCentre
April 12 Ft Wayne, IN Allen County War Memorial
April 13 Saginaw, MI Dow Events Center
April 14 Lansing, MI Breslin Student Events Center
April 23 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
April 24 Toledo, OH Lucas County Arena
April 25 Cincinnati, OH US Bank Arena
April 27 Richmond, VA Richmond Coliseum
April 28 Charleston, WV Charleston Civic Center
April 30 Fayetteville, NC Crown Coliseum
May 1 Columbia, SC Colonial Life Arena
May 2 Augusta, GA James Brown Arena
May 4 Tallahassee, FL Tallahassee County Civic Center
May 5 Pensacola, FL Pensacola Civic Center
May 7 New Orleans, LA Lakefront Arena
May 8 Lafayette, LA Cajundome
May 10 Beaumont, TX Ford Park Events Center
May 12 Austin, TX Frank Erwin Center
May 13 Corpus Christi, TX American Bank Center
May 15 Tucson, AZ Tucson Arena
May 18 Fresno, CA SaveMart Center
May 20 Sacramento, CA ARCO Arena
May 21 Reno, NV Reno Events Center
May 22 Las Vegas, NV Orleans Arena
May 29 Everett, WA Comcast Arena at Everett Events Center
May 30 Spokane, WA Spokane Arena

“Cowboy Casanova” becomes Carrie Underwood’s 11th #1 single

Carrie Underwood "Cowboy Casanova"Superstar Carrie Underwood earns the fastest #1 country single of her career – and 2009’s fastest chart-topper by a country female – as “Cowboy Casanova” sprints to the airplay chart summit in a mere 10 weeks. Written by Carrie, together with Mike Elizondo and Brett James, “Cowboy Casanova” becomes Carrie’s 11th #1 single and the first smash from her just-released Play On album.

The only American Idol winner ever to achieve 11 #1 hits, Underwood’s collection of chart-toppers began with the instant success of her post-American Idol single, “Inside Your Heaven,” which debuted atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in the summer of 2005. It was the first of five #1s to top the BDS or Mediabase charts from her 7x-Platinum debut, Some Hearts, with the others including the GRAMMY-winning “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats,” as well as “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” and “Wasted.”

Earlier this year, the four-time GRAMMY winner, ACM Entertainer of the Year, and three-time, reigning CMA and ACM Female Vocalist winner became the first country artist in history ever to achieve 10 #1 singles on the strength of their first two albums when “I Told You So” became the fifth consecutive chart-topper from Carrie’s Carnival Ride. The album’s other #1s included “Just a Dream” and three hits Carrie co-wrote: “So Small,” “All-American Girl,” and “Last Name.”

In addition to its status as the #1 country airplay single in the nation, “Cowboy Casanova” is also the top country video, now #1 on CMT’s Top Twenty Countdown for the fifth consecutive week and scoring its third week atop GAC’s fan-voted countdown.

This evening, Carrie will be the subject of an interview and feature on the ABC special, In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts: Bright Lights. Big Stars. All Access Nashville, airing at 10 PM ET. Tomorrow, she’ll perform and join Brad Paisley for the second year to co-host The 43rd Annual CMA Awards, airing live from Nashville (8-11 PM ET) on ABC.

Carrie Underwood to release “Play On” November 3rd

carrie-underwood-play-onFour-time GRAMMY Award winner, ACM Entertainer of the Year, and reigning, three-time CMA and ACM Female Vocalist winner Carrie Underwood has clearly amassed not only the respect of the industry, but also the adulation of fans who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of her third album, which Carrie has titled Play On.

Releasing November 3, Play On draws its title from the name of a song featured on the new album, but it’s certainly appropriate for the feelings of the countless fans who’ve come to love Carrie’s music over the past four years. Since the release of her debut album, Some Hearts, in 2005, Underwood has amassed sales of more than 10 million albums with Some Hearts and 2007’s Carnival Ride. Along the way, she has consistently broken new ground and earlier this year became the first country artist in history and the only American Idol winner ever to achieve 10 #1 singles from their first two albums.

Carrie is currently continuing work on Play On, once again teamed with producer Mark Bright, who helmed her Carnival Ride collection as well as seven tracks from Some Hearts.

Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood added to Superstar Lineup For 51ST Annual Grammy Awards

Current GRAMMY® Award nominees Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood are the latest performers announced for the 51st Annual GRAMMY® Awards telecast. They join previously announced performers and nominees Kenny Chesney, Coldplay, Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, and Katy Perry. The music industry’s premier event will take place live on Sunday, Feb. 8, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 Surround Sound on the CBS Television Network from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The show also will be supported on radio via Westwood One worldwide, and covered online at GRAMMY.com and CBS.com, on Twitter at “theGRAMMYs,” on Facebook at “The Recording Academy,” on YouTube at “51stGRAMMYs,” and on Last.fm at “the51stgrammys.” Additional performers, presenters and special segments will be announced soon.
carrie underwood
Jennifer Hudson has three nominations: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (“Spotlight”), Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (“I’m His Only Woman,” featuring Fantasia), and Best R&B Album (Jennifer Hudson).

Three-time GRAMMY winner Carrie Underwood is up for Best Female Country Vocal Performance (“Last Name”).

As previously announced, this year’s “My GRAMMY Moment” segment on the telecast gives music fans an opportunity to virtually share music’s biggest stage with current GRAMMY nominee Katy Perry. Produced in partnership with CBS.com, “My GRAMMY Moment” allows music fans to upload a 30- to 60-second video of themselves singing along to a portion of Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” to www.cbs.com/grammys through Feb. 6. Videos will be voted on by fans and the public-at-large, and the most popular videos will be shown as part of Perry’s performance on Music’s Biggest Night®.

Carrie Underwood recieves two CMA nominations

carrie underwood

Carrie Underwood’s ride continues as she garners two 2008 CMA Award nominations- Album of The Year, for the multi-platinum CD Carnival Ride with producer Mark Bright, and Female Vocalist of The Year, an honor she has won the past two years. Underwood learned the good news this morning as she was heading into tour rehearsals.

“This is awesome! As an artist you always hope the music you record will touch people’s lives,” says Underwood. “There is nothing more rewarding than to be recognized by your peers and to know your fans are enjoying the same ride!”

Underwood is the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry and a four-time CMA winner. Her current album CARNIVAL RIDE contains the new hit single “Just A Dream” and the #1 co-written smash hits “So Small,” “All-American Girl” and “Last Name.” Her debut album released in 2005, SOME HEARTS, was certified 7x-Platinum, becoming the best-selling solo female country debut in RIAA history and surpasses all other releases as the all-time U.S. top-selling album by any American Idol contestant.

Underwood’s headline tour, the “Carnival Ride Tour,” kicks off its fall run on September 23 in Cleveland, Ohio at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University. Little Big Town will open.

Carrie Underwood extends tour

Carrie Underwood

The excitement and overwhelming demand from fans for tickets to Carrie Underwood’s headline tour, the “Carnival Ride Tour,” is no surprise. As one of the hottest country tours on the road this year, additional dates have been added through December. Shows beginning September 23 will feature special guest Little Big Town.

Nearly 600,000 fans have been a part of the “Carnival Ride Tour” audience to date. Underwood will hit 51 cities in the U.S. and Canada this fall, in addition to her wrapping the current leg with opening act Jason Michael Carroll ending June 24. She will also play a select number of fairs and festivals this summer.

Underwood was recently inducted as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry and named Top Female Vocalist at the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards for the second consecutive time. Her current album CARNIVAL RIDE, which contains the #1 co-written smash hits “So Small,” “All-American Girl” and “Last Name,” was certified double-platinum within 2 months of its release. Her debut album, SOME HEARTS, was certified 7x-Platinum, becoming the best-selling solo female country debut in RIAA history and surpasses all other releases as the all-time U.S. top-selling album by any American Idol contestant.

Little Big Town released platinum-selling record, THE ROAD TO HERE, in 2005 which included gold digital certified, “Boondocks.” In 2006, the foursome landed two Grammy nominations including Best Country Album for THE ROAD TO HERE and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group for “Boondocks.” Billboard Magazine also named them Independent Artist of the Year and named THE ROAD TO HERE Independent Album of the Year. In 2007, they were awarded Academy of Country Music’s Top New Vocal Group. The band’s sophomore CD, critically-acclaimed A PLACE TO LAND, will be re-released on Capitol Nashville October 14th. To learn more, visit www.littlebigtown.com.

Fall dates for the “Carnival Ride Tour” are below, with select dates going on sale starting Friday, June 20. Please go to www.carrieunderwood.fm for a listing of all tour cities/dates, special fan club pre-sales, and more information.

9/23 Cleveland, OH Wolstein Center @ Cleveland State University
9/24 Highland Heights, KY Bank of Kentucky Center
9/25 Milwaukee, WI Bradley Center
9/27 Grand Forks, ND Ralph Engelstad Arena
9/28 Sioux City, IA Tyson Events Center
9/30 Topeka, KS Landon Arena
10/2 Champaign, IL Assembly Hall @ University of Illinois
10/3 Hoffman Estates, IL Sears Centre
10/4 Detroit, MI Joe Louis Arena
10/ 6 London, Ontario CANADA John Labatt Centre
10/7 Toronto, Ontario CANADA Air Canada Centre
10/10 St. John, NB CANADA Harbour Station
10/11 Moncton, NB CANADA Moncton Coliseum
10/12 Halifax, NS CANADA Halifax MetroCentre
10/14 Portland, ME Cumberland County Civic Centre
10/15 Boston, MA Agganis Arena
10/16 Kingston, RI Ryan Center
10/18 Syracuse, NY OnCenter at War Memorial
10/19 Philadelphia, PA Liacouras Center
10/21 Newark, NJ Prudential Center
10/23 Hampton, VA Hampton Coliseum
10/24 Winston-Salem, NC LJVM Coliseum
10/26 Southaven, MS DeSoto Civic Center
10/27 Jonesboro, AR ASU Convocation Center
10/29 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
10/30 Grand Prairie, TX Nokia Theatre
11/1 Houston, TX Reliant Arena
11/2 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center
11/6 Las Cruces, NM Pan American Center
11/7 Glendale, AZ Jobing.com Arena
11/8 San Diego, CA San Diego Sports Arena
11/9 Los Angeles, CA Nokia Theatre
11/14 Bakersfield, CA Rabobank Arena
11/15 Oakland, CA Oracle Arena
11/17 Portland, OR Rose Garden
11/19 Salt Lake City, UT E Center
11/21 Missoula, MT Adams Center
11/22 Billings, MT Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark
11/24 Lethbridge, AB CANADA Enmax Centre
11/25 Edmonton, AB CANADA Rexall Place
11/29 Saskatoon, SK CANADA Credit Union Centre
12/1 Regina, SK CANADA Brandt Centre
12/2 Winnipeg, CANADA MTS Centre
12/4 Madison, WI Alliant Energy Center Memorial Coliseum
12/5 St. Louis, MO Chaifetz Arena
12/7 Nashville, TN Sommet Cener
12/8 Chattanooga, TN UTC McKenzie Arena
12/9 Tupelo, MS BankcorpSouth Arena
12/12 Tampa, FL St. Pete Times Forum
12/13 Orlando, FL UCF Arena
12/14 Gainesville, FL Stephen Connell Center

Carrie Underwood – biography

carrie underwood

“God put us here on this carnival ride
We close our eyes never knowing
Where it will take us next”
–Wheel of the World

There is the whirlwind, and then there is the young woman at its center. The key to Carrie Underwood may lie in knowing that, three 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. Through all of it, she retains a genuine likeability that, coupled with her enormous talent, goes a long way toward explaining the phenomenal nature of her success.

And it is indeed phenomenal, even when measured by the achievements of others who have found success as she did, via American Idol. The show’s co-creator and acerbic judge Simon Cowell had predicted during the competition that she would win and that she would outsell all of Idol’s previous winners. He was right on both counts. Carrie’s debut album, Some Hearts, is the biggest-selling American Idol album to date, selling more than 6 million records in the U.S. alone. Her debut CD, Some Hearts, released in 2005, has been the best-selling female country album of 2005, 2006 and 2007. Carrie hit #1 with every single she has released to date, and has won two Grammys as well as a host of trophies from the AMA, ACM, CMA, People’s Choice and Billboard, among many others.

Her own favorite metaphor for the journey, taken from the Hillary Lindsey/Chris Lindsey/Aimee Mayo song “Wheel Of The World,” which closes her eagerly awaited second album, has become the project’s title.

“This part of my life has been absolutely crazy,” she says, “and to think it all started from one little decision I made to get on that ride. That’s why Carnival Ride works as my album title, because it describes the wonderful craziness I’ve been through over the past couple of years.”

Carrie’s new album, Carnival Ride, vaulted to #1 atop Billboard’s Top Country Albums and all-genre Billboard 200 charts with mammoth first-week sales of 527,101 and also earned the highest first-week sales for any female artist in any genre at the time of release for 2007. Setting multiple chart records, Carnival Ride not only earned the best-selling first week of any country sophomore album since the inception of SoundScan, but also notched the largest country debut in digital album chart history, with digital sales of 44,928.
Some Hearts was a snapshot that captured a moment, dealing with coming of age and with establishing a foothold in a wider world. Its success speaks volumes about the attractiveness of its message and of the woman who delivered it. Carnival Ride, on the other hand, is a big-screen movie, wide-ranging in theme, cinematic in scope. It reflects Carrie’s increasing strength as a vocalist, her continuing emergence as a songwriter, and her growing maturity as an artist and a person.

“Last time,” she says, “I didn’t set out to talk about a specific thing. I just picked songs that reminded me of home and made me think, ‘Wow! I can relate to that,’ and by the end, there was a theme.” Taking a broader view this time, she drew on her instincts as a fan in selecting songs that range from the enchantingly light-hearted to the deeply inspiring.

“It’s a collection of songs I would want to hear on the radio,” she says, “and songs I want to sing. I really hope my fans will get a little bit more of me out of these songs.”

The presence of four songs co-written by Carrie will help them do just that. “All-American Girl” turns the story of a baby girl born to a man praying for a boy into a celebration of femininity. If there is a bit of autobiography in the song–Carrie is the youngest of three daughters–there is even more in “Crazy Dreams,” an ode to “long shots” and a celebration of the fact that “even crazy dreams come true,” something she knows better than almost anyone. “Last Name” is a bit of pure fun celebrating reckless abandon, and is one of two songs Carrie wrote with Hillary Lindsey. The other is the album’s first single, “So Small,” a song that announces the new project as a major step forward. With “So Small” Carrie focuses on what’s important in life and not worrying about the small things. It also focuses on the strength of her voice and personality, instilling it with freshness and relevance.

Lindsey, who co-wrote “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” and Carrie have become fast friends since meeting when a group of songwriters gathered at a songwriter retreat in Nashville after her Idol win to help Carrie write and select songs for Some Hearts. In addition to “Wheel Of The World” and the pair of songs she wrote with Carrie, Lindsey co-wrote “Get Out Of This Town,” a bit of upbeat restlessness, “Twisted,” about a relationship on the edge, and “Just A Dream,” a powerful song dealing with the effects of war on a young bride-to-be.

Carrie’s emergence as a songwriter on Carnival Ride is another of the album’s revelations. She brought together another group of top Nashville tunesmiths, including Brett James, Luke Laird, Kelley Lovelace, Aimee Mayo, Steve McEwan and others for a second writers’ retreat. This one held at the Ryman Auditorium, the most famous former home of the Grand Ole Opry, throwing herself into the creative process and expanding greatly her confidence as a songwriter and her depth as a creative force in modern country music.

The process of writing with and looking through the catalogs of the cream of Nashville songwriting helped make Carnival Ride the strong artistic statement it is.

“We had so many great songs to choose from it was really hard to narrow it down,” she says. “We set the bar really high. Songs that would be hits hands-down might not have made it onto the album because one was a teeny notch better.”

The strength of those songs helped propel the subsequent recording sessions.

“We really took the first part of the year to make sure we had the best material we could possibly find,” she says, “and then we went in every day to the studio, which is something I really love to do. It is a very controlled environment. Mark [Bright, her producer] is so easy to work with. He’ll encourage me to play around with vocal approaches because, at the end of the day, it’s my voice, and the song is something I’ll be doing on stage every night. He trusts the instincts I have and I trust him. That makes us a good team.”

Holding the entire package together is the passion and believability fans came to know and love on American Idol and which haven’t dimmed a bit. The combination grew out of a lifelong love of country music nurtured in her hometown of Checotah, Oklahoma.

“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 attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK, where her sorority sisters at Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority worked to bring her out of her shell.

“They always tried to make me sing at everything,” she says, “but I was too embarrassed. During the summers I mustered up enough courage to sing at the Downtown Country show–a Branson-style show that included singing, dancing and comedy. It was mainly there that I learned what it was like to be in front of a crowd.”

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.

“I remember certain things–Saturday Night Live was really cool,” she says. “It was great to be added to the list of such great iconic artists who have performed on the show before. And of course, being on stage at the Grammys–that was an amazing moment. Who’d have thought? But each one runs together. I’d love to revel in the moment a little more sometimes.”

Still, it is a mark of Carrie’s level-headedness and determination that amid the demands of a star, she made it a goal to complete her college degree. Even among the madness of winning American Idol in May 2005, recording and launching her debut album in November 2005, she finished her credit hours and earned her B.A., graduating magna cum laude in May 2006. And while she has grown a little more accustomed to the elite circles in which she sometimes travels, now and then she can tap into the fan she has always been, as when she met Randy Travis not long ago.

“I’ve loved him ever since I was little,” she says. “So, it was kind of like, ‘Wow! This is the person I hoped would take home the awards when I watched as a little girl.’ It was kind of a crazy day and I guess my emotions were running a little high when I got to meet him. I met him and he was so nice, and I started crying. I never know what to do with people when they cry when meeting me, so I was thinking, ‘Gosh! I’m one of those people now! I’m being completely silly,’ but it was just the way it happened.” Her version of Travis’s hit “I Told You So” appears on Carnival Ride.

She appears on Brad Paisley’s album 5th Gear, joining him on “Oh Love” as her reach continues to expand. She recorded an original song called “Ever Ever After” for the Disney movie Enchanted and filmed a music video for the project. Her versatility is such that she has covered the work of artists including the Eagles and Bob Wills on the Grammys, Fleetwood Mac on Fashion Rocks, and she made the Pretenders’ classic “I’ll Stand By You” her own in a version that raised money for the “Idol Gives Back” charity effort. As part of her involvement, Carrie traveled to South Africa to visit and perform for schools, orphanages, hospices and health care centers in and around Johannesburg.

In 2006, Carrie performed over 150 shows on tour with Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley as well as headlining her own dates. She ended the year headlining a USO Tour during the Christmas holiday season and performing for U.S. troops in Kuwait and Iraq. Carrie, known for her love of animals, is also a major supporter of the Humane Society of the United States.

Such charitable efforts are yet another indication that, in a world where celebrity is often about mere self-indulgence, Carrie brings as much grace, style and substance to her life as she does to her stage performances. She has quickly become one of country music’s most effective and best-loved ambassadors, using her success as a springboard for good. Now, with the release of Carnival Ride, we are reminded once again of the rich talent that underlies that humanitarian spirit, and of the bottom line when it comes to the popularity of this remarkable young woman.