By Carrie Underwood
I never thought that any of this would actually happen to me. These kinds of things only happen to imaginary characters on television or in the movies…not real people.
I began my life with the best family in the world already waiting for me. I was the last of three girls, the other two being nine and 12 by the time I came along. I had a very happy childhood full of the wonderful simple things that children love to do. Growing up in the country, I enjoyed things like playing on dirt roads, climbing trees, catching little woodland creatures and, of course, singing.
I started my musical career at a very early age singing songs in church like “Jesus Loves Me.” As I grew up, Mrs. Cooper’s music class was an easy favorite. I somehow landed all of the lead roles in the third through fifth grade musicals. As I got older, I pushed my mom to take me to local talent shows. I never won, but usually placed. I was so excited when I won a $25 savings bond or a trophy. Little did I know that those little things would someday lead me down the road I’m on today.
In high school, I still sang, but only at things like county fairs, school events, church, and car shows. I focused more on school than anything else and graduated second in my class in May of 2001. 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.”
College at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK, was a wonderful time for me. I was extremely shy my freshman year, but joined Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, and my sorority sisters managed to bring me out of my shell. They always tried to make me sing at everything, 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.
I ended up majoring in journalism, which is the reason I decided to write my own bio. I wanted to have a career in broadcast journalism. I hoped to get a behind-the-scenes job in Tulsa, OK, at one of the local television news shows.
In my last year of college, I was at home one weekend and saw on the news that many people were in Cleveland, OH, sleeping outside in hopes of auditioning for the 2005 American Idol season. People always told me that I should try out for the show, but I never thought I would be able to handle it. I decided to see where else the auditions would be held and found out that the closest place to my home was in St. Louis—hours away. After visiting with a family friend, my mother offered to drive me if I wanted to try out. And the rest is history…
Millions of people all over the U.S. saw me do my best and my worst week to week on the show. It was very stressful, but somehow I managed to keep my sanity through it all. I had never really been away from home before (college was only an hour away), so the L.A. lifestyle was new and usually confusing to me. I learned so much on the show—about myself and about the music/television business.
After I won the title of American Idol 2005, a whirlwind soon followed. I was swept away to talk shows, photo shoots and, of course, recording my very first album. Which brings me to Some Hearts. This album means so much to me. I grew up listening to country music and still hold it very dear to my heart. I have known all of my life that being a country music singer would be the most wonderful thing that I could ever do. I am so grateful that I have this opportunity, and I want more than anything for my family, friends and fans to be proud of me and of the music that I make.
In looking for songs for the album, Simon Fuller, head of 19, suggested I have a meeting with some of the top songwriters in Nashville, TN. The idea of a meeting quickly turned into a weekend at Karian Studios as a writers’ retreat. I got the chance to meet with and, in some cases, help out the writers who would be working on my album. The weekend turned out to be most helpful. The writers got to know me, and a few songs that are on the album came out of that weekend.
The first single, “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” was probably the first song I heard that really struck a chord with me. The song tells such a great story. And fortunately, everyone around me felt the same way about the song that I did, so recording it and making it my first single was really a no-brainer.
During our search for songs, another came across my plate that I simply enjoyed listening to. The name of it is “Some Hearts.” I thought it sounded interesting and would be fun to perform. I also liked the title of the song as an album title.
The next song that I felt a connection with was called “Don’t Forget to Remember Me.” The first time that I heard it, I cried because I was feeling homesick. I got the lyrics and managed to lose them in a stack of papers that I was sending home. My mother got the package and read through the lyrics. She called me and said that the song made her cry, too, and she only read the words. She said that is was “our song.” In that moment, I knew that no matter how hard it would be to get through, I had to record it.
During the writers’ retreat, I found a songwriter that I felt a connection with. Her name is Hillary Lindsey. She was one of the writers of “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” I knew that if any of her songs were as great as that one, I wanted to hear some more. That’s where the songs “Wasted” and “Starts with Goodbye” came in. And, as I suspected, they were just as wonderful as the first.
Writing songs is always something that I have been interested in. But I really didn’t feel like my writing chops were good enough yet to write the songs for my first album. I did, however, try my best to help. I wanted to help write a song that was strictly for my friends and family in my hometown of Checotah, OK. Obviously, the name of that one ended up being “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore.” It’s basically an account of the things that have been happening to me over the past few months.
I also feel like I should have a disclaimer on one of the songs. You may already know that I’m talking about “Before He Cheats.” This song was so different than the others. I decided to sing it because I think that everyone has a “mean streak,” and the character in the song has a very large one. I would like to say, however, that I do not condone the destruction of anyone’s property and I have never, at any time, keyed anyone’s car.
During the making of this album I learned a lot about myself. I love being in the studio, and every day I was there, I put my heart and my soul into the songs that I sang. I hope you enjoy my first album because I sure enjoyed making it!
So, in conclusion, I guess things like this do happen to normal people. I don’t know how or why I am this lucky, but I hope I continue to be for many years to come…and I hope I never forget where I came from!
Birthdate: March 10, 1983
Hometown: Checotah, OK
Birthplace: Muskogee, OK
Record Label: 19 Recordings/Arista
Debut CD: Some Hearts
First Single: “Jesus, Take the Wheel”
Written by: Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson and Brett James
Album Producers: Mark Bright and Dann Huff
Booking: Jeff Frasco, CAA
Management: 19 Entertainment, Ann Edelblute
Awards: -American Idol winner
-2005 Teen Choice Award “Choice Reality Star-Female”
-Voted the “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian” in PETA’s annual online poll – 2005
Musical Influences: Martina McBride, Loretta Lynn, ‘80s “hair bands,” John Denver, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks
Interesting Facts: -Salutatorian of graduating class of Checotah High School, 2001
-Loves animals, horror movies, Dallas Cowboys football and
Star Trek: The Next Generation
-Large CD collection includes three favorite albums: Martina McBride’s Greatest Hits, Randy Travis’ Always & Forever and Foo Fighters’ In Your Honor, as well as music by Green Day, Rascal Flatts and Garth Brooks.
Pets: 4 dogs, 2 cats