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Carrie Underwood

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FredSmithson American Idol 43458 Carrie Underwood Play On 1

Carrie Underwood

The first country singer to win American Idol, Carrie Underwood grew up in the small town of Checotah, OK, and began singing with her church at the tender age of three. Throughout her childhood, she also performed at functions for the Lion's Club and Old Settlers Day, eventually grading to festival gigs in several states. Along with developing her singing, Underwood learned to play guitar and piano. She graduated from high school as her class salutatorian and majored in mass communication at Northeastern State College with an eye on a career in broadcast journalism, but continued her singing career throughout her studies.
Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats03:19

Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats

As a senior just a few credits short of her degree, Underwood heard about the auditions for the 2005 season of American Idol. She tried out for the show at the St. Louis, MO, auditions, and her innocent charm and pure, pretty voice ended up winning her not only a place among the 12 finalists, but the title of 2005's American Idol. Her debut single, Inside Your Heaven, was released that summer, and debuted at No. 1 atop Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart, making Underwood the first country artist to have a number one on that chart. She also began recording her debut album after completing the American Idols Live! tour.

Some Hearts was released later that fall on November 15, 2005, and became a smash hit, selling over 315,000 copies in its first week and eventually going platinum a whopping seven times, making Some Hearts the best-selling debut album in country music history. The album's lead
Carrie Underwood - Jesus, Take The Wheel03:45

Carrie Underwood - Jesus, Take The Wheel

Carrie Underwood - Jesus, Take The Wheel

single, "Jesus, Take the Wheel," was also a big success, topping Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for six weeks.

Underwood's award-winning streak began when she won three Billboard Music Awards, including Top-Selling Hot 100 Song of the Year and Top-Selling Country Single for "Inside Your Heaven" and Country Single Sales Artist of the Year. She also picked up a Teen Choice Award for Choice Female Reality/Variety Star. In addition, Underwood was named Oklahoman of the Year 2005.

Acclaim for the album and single spilled over into 2006, when Some Hearts re-entered Billboard's Top Ten after Underwood's appearance on the 2006 American Idol finale. Meanwhile, Underwood won her first two Academy of Country Music Awards, which were Single Record of the Year for "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and Top New Female Vocalist of the Year.

She also recieved a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association for Country Recorded Song of the Year for "Jesus, Take the Wheel". Next, Underwood won Breakthrough Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year for "Jesus, Take the Wheel" at the CMT Music Awards, making her the only double winner at the event. Underwood's next single, "Don't Forget to Remember Me" found its way to the top of the country charts as well.

Despite her hectic career as a country music star -- which included carrying her Some Hearts tour through the fall of 2006 -- Underwood found the time to finish her degree and become a spokesperson for People for the Ethical
Carrie Underwood - Cowboy Casanova03:55

Carrie Underwood - Cowboy Casanova

Carrie Underwood - Cowboy Casanova

Treatment of Animals (who named her 2005's World's Sexiest Vegetarian). "Before He Cheats" was released as Underwood's third single late in 2006, and became her third country number one and her fourth total number one hit.

At the 2006 Country Music Association Awards in November, Underwood won her first CMA awards, which were the Horizon Award and Female Vocalist of the Year. At the American Music Awards, she won Favorite New Breakthrough Artist. In addition, at the Inspirational Country Music Awards she won Mainstream Country Artist of the Year.

That December, she won five Billboard Music Awards: Album of the Year, Top 200 Female Artist of the Year, Female Country Artist, New Country Artist, and Country Album of the Year.

In January, Underwood earned her first People's Choice awards, which were Favorite Country Song for "Before He Cheats" and Favorite Female Artist.
Carrie Underwood - Ever After03:34

Carrie Underwood - Ever After

Carrie Underwood - Ever Ever After (from the movie Enchanted)

At the 2007 Grammy Awards in February, Underwood took home her first Grammy awards, which were the Best New Artist award, Best Country Song for "Jesus, Take the Wheel", and Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Jesus, Take the Wheel". Early in 2007, Underwood began work on her second album, while "Wasted" became the fourth single taken from Some Hearts; she performed it on an episode of American Idol that March, and the following month, it hit number one on the Hot Country Songs Chart. Underwood gathered more accolades by winning three awards at the 2007 CMT Awards -- Video of the Year, Female Video of the Year, and Video Director of the Year for "Before He Cheats".

She also took home three 2007 ACM Awards in May, which included Album of the Year for Some Hearts, Female Vocalist of the Year for the first time, and Music Video of the Year for "Before He Cheats". She made
Carrie Underwood - Temporary Home05:01

Carrie Underwood - Temporary Home

Carrie Underwood - Temporary Home

another trip to American Idol late in the month for the sixth season finale, where she sang "I'll Stand by You" to a standing ovation. During the show, Clive Davis recognized Underwood's sextuple-platinum sales; Underwood was the first country artist to sell that many copies of a debut album since LeAnn Rimes' Blue in 1996. She also appeared on Brad Paisley's album 5th Gear, which was released in June 2007.

Riding on that swell of support, Underwood released the sophomore effort Carnival Ride on October 23, 2007, which sold a whopping 527,000 copies in its first week. Five of the album's tracks hit the top of the country charts, including "So Small", "All-American Girl", "Last Name", "Just A Dream", and "I Told You So", pushing the album to 3 million in sales. Having ten number one singles, Underwood became the first country artist to have ten consecutive number one hits from her first two albums.

During the 2007 CMA Awards in November, Underwood won Single of the Year for "Before He Cheats" and Female Vocalist of the Year for the second consecutive time.

At the 2007 American Music Awards, Underwood won a total of three awards, including Artist of the Year, Favorite Country Female Artist, and Favorite Country Album for "Some Hearts".

During the 2007 Billboard Music Awards, Underwood won another five awards: Female Country Artist of the Year, Country Album of the Year for "Some Hearts", Country Artist of the Year, Female Billboard Top 200
Carrie Underwood - Just A Dream04:48

Carrie Underwood - Just A Dream

Carrie Underwood - Just A Dream

Artist of the Year, and Country Albums Artist of the Year.

At the 2008 Grammy Awards in February, Underwood earned two more Grammys for Best Country Female Vocal Performance for "Before He Cheats" and Best Country Song for "Before He Cheats". In 2008, Underwood embarked on a joint tour with Keith Urban and also launched her own headlining tour, which proved to be successful. On May 10, 2008, Underwood was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by Garth Brooks. At the age of 25, she was the youngest member of the Opry at the time.

At the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards, she won Female Vocalist of the Year, for the second consecutive time. Underwood won another Teen Choice award in 2008 for Red Carpet Fashion Icon.

Underwood and Brad Paisley co-hosted the CMA awards show in November 2008 for the first time, and she walked away with the Female Vocalist of the Year award for the third consecutive time. At the 2008 American Music Awards in November, Carnival Ride won the Favorite Country Album award, thus making that her second consecutive win in such category. In 2008, Underwood also won her first international award, which was "Female Vocalist of the Year" at the European Country Music Association Awards.
Carrie Underwood - Undo It03:05

Carrie Underwood - Undo It

Carrie Underwood - Undo It

At the 2008 Billboard Music Awards in December, she picked up yet another award for Country Songs Artist of the Year.

At the 2009 People's Choice Awards in January, Underwood won three more awards, including Favorite Country Song for "Last Name", Favorite Female Artist, and Favorite Star 35 and Under. She also took home her fourth Grammy, Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Last Name", in February.

In May 2009, she earned her first Academy of Country Music Award's Entertainer of the Year title, making her only the seventh woman in history to win this award. She also won Female Vocalist of the Year for the third consecutive time. In September, Underwood was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

Underwood released her third studio effort, Play On, on November 3, 2009, with first week sales of 318,000, which found her devoting more focus than ever to her songwriting abilities. She co-wrote seven of the album's tracks, including the leadoff single, "Cowboy Casanova." It and the two follow-up singles -- "Temporary Home" and "Undo It" -- all reached No. 1 on Billboard's country songs chart, giving her 13 No. 1 singles. Play On has since been certified 2 times Platinum, becoming Underwood's th
Carrie Underwood - Last Name04:00

Carrie Underwood - Last Name

Carrie Underwood - Last Name

ird consecutive album to go multi-Platinum.

In November 2009, Underwood had her very own CMT Invitation Only show. She and Brad Paisley co-hosted the 2009 CMA Awards in November for the second time.

In December, she 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", seventh-season American Idol champion David Cook, Kristin Chenoweth, Brad Paisley and others.

At the 2009 Billboard Music Awards that December, Underwood took home another two awards, including Top Country Album of the Decade for "Some Hearts" and Top Female Country Artist of the Decade. Also in December, she received the Nashville Symphony's Harmony award.

In January of 2010, Underwood won her fifth career Grammy -- the best country collaboration with vocals award -- for her duet with Randy Travis, "I Told You So." She also managed to win Favorite Country Artist at the People's Choice Awards in January.

She embarked on her Play On Tour in March, which was insanely successful, and continued to tour through the rest of year. In March she made her TV acting debut on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Underwood made history by winning the Academy of Country Music Award's Entertainer of the Year for a second time in April, making her the first woman in history to do so. She also received the ACM Triple Crown
Carrie Underwood - All-American Girl03:30

Carrie Underwood - All-American Girl

Carrie Underwood - All-American Girl

Award, a rare feat.

In May, Underwood appeared at the finale of season 9 of American Idol to perform her single "Undo It", which hit the top of the country charts that month.

In June, Underwood took home two more CMT Music Awards, including Video of the Year for "Cowboy Casanova" and Performance of the Year for "Temporary Home". The superstar wed professional hockey player Mike Fisher on July 10, 2010, leading to the release of "Mama's Song" in September, which reached No. 2 on Billboard's country songs chart.

Play On garnered the award for Favorite Country Album at the American Music Awards in November, making Underwood the first artist in American Music Award history to win this award for her first three albums. She co-hosted the 2010 CMA Awards with Brad Paisley in November for a third time.

Underwood co-wrote and recorded a song entitled "There's a Place for Us," the lead single from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which made its debut in December. She was also chosen as the 2010-2011 spokeswoman for Olay.

In December, Underwood picked up a record-setting six awards at the first annual American Country Awards,
Carrie Underwood - Mama's Song04:26

Carrie Underwood - Mama's Song

Carrie Underwood - Mama's Song

including Artist of the Year, Touring Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Play On, Single by a Female Artist for "Cowboy Casanova", Music Video by a Female Artist for "Cowboy Casanova" and Female Artist of the Year. In addition, Underwood was named one of the Artists of the Year by CMT in December. Also that month, she won Inspirational Music Video of the Year for "Temporary Home" at the Inspirational Country Music Awards.

Underwood earned two more international awards at the French Country Music Awards in December, winning Best Female Vocalist of the Year and Best Video of the Year for "Cowboy Casanova".

Underwood and songwriters, David Hodges and Hillary Lindsey, received a nomination for Best Original Song for "There's A Place For Us" at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards in January.

In March 2011, Underwood sang John Lennon's "Instant Karma!" at the NBC's special All Together Now – A Celebration of Service, which honored ex-President George H. W. Bush.

At the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards in April, Underwood sang with Steven Tyler both her song
Carrie Underwood - Wasted03:44

Carrie Underwood - Wasted

Carrie Underwood - Wasted

"Undo It" and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way". In April 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. 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.

Underwood continued to act between touring and recording and co-starred in the 2011 inspirational movie, Soul Surfer in April. Also in early 2011, the Hollywood Reporter declared her to be the top earner among American Idol alumni with well over 14 million albums sold worldwide.

In May, Underwood returned to the American Idol stage to perform her hit "Before He Cheats" alongside finalist Lauren Alaina.
Carrie Underwood - So Small03:44

Carrie Underwood - So Small

Carrie Underwood - So Small

In June, Underwood headed to Australia to promote the release of Play On: Deluxe Edition there, performing on several TV shows during her trip, including Australia's version of Dancing With the Stars. She did duets with Tony Bennett on his 2011 album Duets II and with Randy Travis on his 2011 Anniversary Celebration album. As of the summer of 2011, Underwood was working on her fourth album.

Brad Paisley and Underwood hit the Billboard charts with "Remind Me," a cut from Paisley's album, This Is Country Music, which eventually hit number one on Billboard's country songs chart in September and also went Platinum, giving Carrie her 14th number one hit.

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 dinn
Carrie Underwood - Don't Forget To Remember Me03:40

Carrie Underwood - Don't Forget To Remember Me

Carrie Underwood - Don't Forget to Remember Me

er. 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.

On September 23, Underwood was one of the headlining acts of the biggest event in radio music history. She performed at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Also on September 23, the second season premiere of Blue Bloods aired, and Underwood made an appearance in the episode, singing "It Had to be You" alongside Tony Bennett.

According to Guinness World Records, Underwood holds the record for most country number one hits by a female artist in the United States.

The day before the CMA Awards, Carrie picked up three more BMI Country Music Awards for Most Performed Songs of the Year for "Temporary Home", "Undo It", and "Mama's Song", all of which she co-wrote.

Carrie co-hosted the 2011 CMA Awards with Brad Paisley in November for the fourth year in a row.
Carrie Underwood - Good Girl03:30

Carrie Underwood - Good Girl

Carrie Underwood - Good Girl

Underwood picked up another three American Country Awards on December 5, 2011, as she won Female Artist of the Year, Single by a Female Artist for "Mama's Song", and Music Video for a Female Artist for "Mama's Song", bringing her to a total of 9 of the fan-voted awards.

Carrie was named Country Weekly's Most Beautiful Woman in December, as voted on by readers, appearing on the front cover of the magazine.

Carrie filmed her first CMT Crossroads on February 4, teaming up with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

In February, Carrie performed "It Had to be You" with Tony Bennett at the 2012 Grammy Awards also presenting the Best New Artist award.
Carrie Underwood - I Told You So05:45

Carrie Underwood - I Told You So

Carrie Underwood - I Told You So

Underwood's fourth album, Blown Away, was released to stores May 1, 2012. The lead single, "Good Girl", was released to radio February 23. The album debuted at #1 atop both Billboard's top 200 Albums chart and its Country Albums chart, selling 267,000 copies its first week. It stayed at #1 for a second week on the 200 chart. "Good Girl" hit number one on Hot Country Songs, becoming Underwood's twelfth number one hit on the chart.

Underwood has also voiced support for 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."

In June 2012, Underwood won Video of the Year for "Good Girl" and Collaborative Video of the Year for "Remind Me" with Brad Paisley at the 2012 CMT Music Awards. This was her 3rd time to win Video of the Year.

The second single to be released from Blown Away is the title track, set to be released in July. biography

With more than 14 million albums sold worldwide, 14 No. 1 singles, with six as co-writes, five Grammys, and countless other accolades—all achieved with three albums in less than seven years—Carrie Underwood remains ever-passionate, fueled by a restless creative spirit, good-natured competitive streak, and abundance of God-given talent. And now, Carrie unleashes her most ambitious project yet with Blown Away.

Teaming again with producer Mark Bright, Carrie delivers a 14-song collection that covers a particularly vast expanse of emotional territory. She celebrates the understated pleasures of small-town living in "Thank God For Hometowns" and explores the exquisite fragility of life in "Forever Changed." She's not averse to tackling abuse and betrayal then doling out a little sweet revenge with such compelling tracks as "Blown Away" and "Two Black Cadillacs." Musically the songs range from rollicking up-tempo anthems, such as her smash first single "Good Girl" to the island-flavored escape of "One Way Ticket" and the steel guitar-laced country lament of "Wine After Whiskey."

Such musical and lyrical diversity is the foundation of Carrie's artistry. After all, this is a young woman who in the past year has performed with Steven Tyler on a top-rated edition of CMT's Crossroads, scored a No. 1 country hit with good friend Brad Paisley on "Remind Me," and sang with the iconic Tony Bennett on this year's Grammy telecast, delivering the classic "It Had To Be You," their collaboration on Bennett's Duets II album.

The Oklahoma native is a fan of all types of music, yet she's purposefully planted herself in the country format, even while her eclectic tastes have influenced her creative output. She's been careful to not get pigeonholed and prides herself on not being predictable. "I feel like I've taken all of my albums into as many different directions as possible while still keeping them cohesive," she says. "I love this album from start to finish and love every song on it. There's not one single song that's like another song I've ever done. I think it's my best album. I really do think there's something for everyone."

Her ability to be unique yet accessible has been crucial to Carrie's career from the beginning. She became America's sweetheart in 2005 when she won the fourth season of American Idol, a vehicle that transformed her from a shy Oklahoma girl with a great voice to a budding superstar. Since then she's become the popular franchise's most successful alum.

She's won a vast array of awards including three female vocalist awards from both the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM). In 2010, when Carrie garnered her second win as ACM Entertainer of the Year, she became the first female artist to win the award twice, and only the 7th female to take the award in the 40-year history of the ACM category, among Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and the Dixie Chicks. Thanks to her past wins for the categories of Entertainer of the Year, Top Female Vocalist, and Top New Female Vocalist, Carrie also received the ACM Triple Crown Award, which has been won by only one other female artist—Barbara Mandrell in 2004. In addition to the above, Carrie's won 6 American Music Awards, 6 People's Choice Awards, 7 CMT Music Awards, 9 American Country Awards, and 7 BMI Songwriter Awards. Carrie also received a Golden Globe nomination in 2010 for Best Original Song for "There's A Place For Us," which she recorded and co-wrote for Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader.

Carrie's 2005 debut Some Hearts topped Billboard's Country Albums chart for 27 weeks, has sold over 7 million copies, and was voted No. 1 Country Album of the Decade by Billboard. Her 2007 sophomore album, Carnival Ride, and 2009's Play On each debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's country and all-genre album charts. Over the course of three albums, she's saturated country radio with such hits as "Jesus, Take The Wheel," "Before He Cheats," "So Small," "Last Name," "Just A Dream," "Cowboy Casanova," "Temporary Home," "All-American Girl," "Undo It," and "Mama's Song."

Carrie's highly acclaimed concert tours have further helped to establish her into the elite status of the country music community, or in any genre of music, with her stellar performances. In 2008, after wrapping her "Carnival Ride Tour" she became the top-selling country female touring artist of the year, selling out many of her 137 shows before 1.2 million fans. In that year, Carrie also became the most-heard artist at country radio and was named the No. 1 Hot Country Songs Artist by Billboard and No. 1 Top Country Artist by Radio & Records. In 2010, her next headline arena tour, the "Play On Tour," played 108 shows with one million fans attending, which resulted in Carrie being named again as the top-ranked female country touring artist of the year. In 2012, in support of Blown Away, Carrie will headline another major international tour, which will no doubt be one of the hottest tickets of the year.

Carrie is a proud member of the Grand Ole Opry and expanded her résumé making her acting debut in the 2011 film Soul Surfer. She can be seen in print and TV ads as the North American face of Olay beauty products, and has a long-running deal with vitaminwater®. One of country music's most respected young ambassadors, Carrie has served as co-host of the CMA Awards with Brad Paisley the past four years.

Yet for those who think they know Carrie, Blown Away is likely to catch them by surprise, particularly the cinematic title track with its swirling, atmospheric production and intense lyric about abuse and revenge. "I got chills," she says of the first time she heard the Josh Kear/Chris Tompkins penned stunner. "I remember where I was when I heard it and called my manager and said, ‘Do not let anyone else have this song. It's my song.' It's such a visual song. You listen to it and you can see everything that is happening. It's so dramatic. I'm not a drama person, but when you can make a movie in song form in 3 and a half minutes, it's surreal."

"Blown Away" finds a daughter getting revenge on an abusive, alcoholic father and the next song, "Two Black Cadillacs," also has a larger-than-life cinematic quality which makes both tunes feel like mini-movies set to music. "Two Black Cadillacs" relates the story of a wife and mistress who conspire to get even with the man who betrayed them both. "It's just more drama," says Carrie, who co-wrote the tune with Josh Kear and Hillary Lindsey. "It was so much fun creating all this drama and singing about it. That's the great thing about being an entertainer; you're just a big actor. When we start sitting down and writing songs, you just never know what's going to come out."

Carrie co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on Blown Away, including the first single, "Good Girl," which has rocketed up the charts. " ‘Good Girl' was one of the last ones I wrote for the album," she says of the tune she penned with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley. "We wanted something a little more fun and up-tempo. Chris DeStefano is just a mad scientist with his Pro Tools, and he can play every instrument. We walked out of that writing session with a demo. It sounded awesome. It was ready to go. We let everybody hear it, and everybody was so excited."

"Cupid's Got A Shotgun" is another of the album's high-energy tracks, and it gets an extra kick from Paisley contributing his signature guitar licks. "Once we got into the studio, I was like, ‘Brad Paisley HAS to play on this. He'll make the song,' " Carrie says of the tune she wrote with Kear and Tompkins. "We left so much space in the song for him to come in and play. He did his thing and sounded awesome. He added that last piece of the puzzle, and it's just so country. It's really cool."

In addition to being musically inventive, Carrie has long been known for delivering songs with substance, and the new album delivers its share of potent messages. "Nobody Ever Told You," which Carrie wrote with Luke Laird and Hillary Lindsey, boasts an empowering lyric and a breezy, engaging melody. "People need to hear compliments more," she says of the song's life-affirming lyric. "People need to hear ‘I love you' more. People need to hear ‘You are beautiful' more."

"Good In Goodbye," co-written by Carrie, Lindsey and Ryan Tedder, is a bittersweet look at life beyond heartbreak that offers tender truth in the lines "As bad as it was/As bad as it hurt/I thank God I didn't get what I thought I deserved." On the other end of the emotional spectrum, "Thank God For Hometowns" is a sweet salute to small-town life. "I heard that one when I was going back to my 10-year high school reunion," the Checotah, OK, native says. "I listened to the demo when I was driving in to go stay with my parents. It was just very fitting in my heart at that time."

"Forever Changed" is a beautiful ballad that brings tears to Carrie's eyes as she discusses it. "I had a hard time recording it, and I still have a hard time listening to it," she says of the Tom Douglas/Hillary Lindsey/James T. Slater penned ballad. "That is the most wonderfully well-written song I've ever heard in my life. There's this young girl meeting the love of her life, getting married and having a baby. It takes you back in time, and there is something old fashioned about it. At the end, the mom's obviously slipping away a little bit. It is a sad song, but it's not meant to be a sad song. It's about love, being forever changed, forever loved."

In a few short years, Carrie has seen the power that music has to change lives—to incite dialogue, to instill hope, and to simply entertain. She's aware of the platform she's been given. She respects it and appreciates every moment. "I'm very happy in my life, and I count my blessings every day," she says. "Seven years ago when I decided to try out for American Idol, my life changed completely in the blink of an eye. I went down a different train track and took off at about a million miles per hour. I feel like I'm still learning. In the beginning, it was like, ‘Oh, I have a No. 1. That's awesome!' I didn't really understand what that meant. ‘Jesus, Take The Wheel' and ‘Before He Cheats' were No. 1 for several weeks, and that doesn't happen often, but I had no idea. I realize now what hard work it actually is, and I feel like I can appreciate those victories even more. Touring is more fun because I know what it's like to headline a tour. I feel like I'm able to be more and more creative all the time. I always feel like I'm taking steps forward."

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