Carrie Underwood was born March 10, 1983. Her family already owned the farm in Checotah, Okla.,
though Underwood was born in the next town over, the one made famous in Merle Haggard's song, "Okie From Muskogee." Her father,
Stephen, worked at a
paper mill, and her mother, Carole, was an elementary school teacher. Underwood is the youngest
of three sisters. Shanna is 13 years older and Stephanie is 10 years older. Underwood was just 4 years old when Shanna moved
out on her own but says her siblings have always been there for her.
Music didn't run in the family, but Underwood started singing at church when she was 3. Once she
was in school, she sang solo roles in student plays. By the seventh grade, people were taking more notice of her voice as
she entered local talent shows. She was told she had a "big voice" for "such a little girl."
Her taste in music was varied, thanks to her parents (who liked oldies) and sisters (who favored
'80s pop). She started listening to country music in the car.
She was involved in her high school music program, but she kept telling people she was going to
become a famous singer. Then she enrolled at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., and became more serious about
her career choice. She chose broadcast journalism for her major and produced a student-run television program and wrote for
the school paper, The Northeastern.
Music wasn't completely out of the picture. While in college, she had a role in a country music
show where she learned about country legends like Patsy Cline and the Carter Family. She was still taking her college classes
when friends encouraged her to audition for American Idol. At first, she resisted. However, she soon realized if she didn't
audition, she would graduate, get a job and may never have a chance to try out for the show again. So one night after wrapping
an appearance in the college country music show, she piled into the car with her mom, a friend and her mother and drove all
night, arriving in St. Louis at 6 a.m. They had to be at the stadium by 8 a.m. to receive wristbands to be eligible for the
auditions. Then she waited eight hours before singing Martina McBride's "Phones Are Ringing All Over Town" for American Idol
supervising producer James Breen.
Underwood didn't think she sang it well although she was invited to come back the next day and
sing for executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. She sang another McBride song for Lythgoe, "Independence Day." On the next round,
Underwood sang Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" for the show's judges, who sent her to Hollywood on her first-ever
airline flight. As the weeks went by, the other contestants were voted off the show one by one, until the finale on May 25,
2005, when it was Underwood vs. Bo Bice. When Ryan Seacrest announced the winner, Underwood became America's new idol.
She signed to 19 Recordings/Arista Records and released the single "Inside Your Heaven", which
debuted as the best selling song in the nation with sales of 170,000. She broke Billboard chart history as the first country
music artist ever to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven" also became the first song from a country
artist to go to No. 1 on the Hot 100 since Lonestar's "Amazed" did so in 2000. However, the single was scarcely played on
Following her win, she performed on the American Idol tour and signed advertising deals for Hershey's
chocolate and Skechers shoes. She released the single "Jesus, Take the Wheel" to country radio later that year; her debut
album Some Hearts followed in November, less than six months following her Idol win.