Carrie Marie Underwood (born March 10, 1983) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. Underwood has set and broken several records throughout her career. Her achievements led her to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2009. She has won numerous music awards, including seven Grammy Awards, seventeen Billboard Music Awards, eleven Academy of Country Music Awards, and nine American Music Awards.
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 went on to become the fastest selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history, the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history and the best-selling country album of the last ten years. Underwood won three Grammy Awards for the album, including Best New Artist. Released in 2007, her second album, Carnival Ride, 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. In 2014, she released her first compilation album, winning a Grammy Award for its crossover single “Something in the Water”. Underwood has sold more than 65 million records globally, and is the Top Country Artist of all time on the RIAA’s Digital Singles ranking and the biggest American Idol earner of all time. Her fifth album, Storyteller, was released on October 23, 2015.
Recognized by Rolling Stone as the female vocalist of her generation in any genre and by Billboard as Country Music’s reigning Queen, Underwood is the only solo country artist in the 2000s to have a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and the first and only country artist to ever debut at number one on the Hot 100, as “Inside Your Heaven” topped the chart in 2005. She is also the female artist with the most No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, from 1991 to present, having 14 number one’s and breaking her own Guinness Book record of ten. Some Hearts was named the No. 1 country album of the 2000s by Billboard and she was the top-ranked female artist on Billboard’s Best Country Artists of the 2000s list. Time listed Underwood as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.
Underwood was born March 10, 1983 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the daughter of Carole (Shatswell) and Stephen Underwood. She was raised on her parents’ farm in the nearby rural town of Checotah. Her father worked in a sawmill, while her mother taught elementary school. She has two older sisters, Shanna and Stephanie. 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.
A local admirer arranged for her to go to Nashville when she was 14 to audition for Capitol Records. In 1996, Capitol Records was preparing a contract for Underwood but cancelled 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.” While at Checotah High School, she was an Honor Society member, a cheerleader, and played basketball and softball. Underwood graduated from Checotah High School in 2001 as salutatorian. 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'”. 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. She spent part of one of her summers as a page for Oklahoma State Representative Bobby Frame. She also waited tables at a pizzeria, worked at a zoo, and at a veterinary clinic. Underwood is an alumna of the Alpha Iota chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. For two years during the summer, she performed in Northeastern State University’s Downtown Country show in Tahlequah. She also competed in numerous beauty pageants at the university and was selected as Miss NSU runner-up in 2004.
Underwood is a practicing Christian. She and her mother are fans of writer Stephen King. His 1980s best-selling book-turned-to-movie Christine inspired the video for her single “Two Black Cadillacs”. Underwood is a fan of musical drama show Nashville and horror-themed TV shows The Following and The Walking Dead, having stated, in an interview with Marie Claire, that she would like to play a zombie on The Walking Dead.
Underwood began dating then Ottawa Senators (now Nashville Predators) hockey player Mike Fisher after they met at one of her concerts in late 2008 and she became engaged to him in December 2009. Underwood and Fisher appeared together publicly for the first time in January 2010, at the Bell Sens Soiree, an annual fundraiser in Gatineau for the Ottawa Senators’ official charity. After appearing together at the CMT Awards in June 2010, Underwood told reporters that Fisher was planning a surprise honeymoon for the two of them after their summer wedding.
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. The couple gave People the following statement, which they signed “Mike & Carrie Fisher”: “We could not feel more blessed to have found each other and to have shared this day with our friends and family that mean so much to us!” According to People, Monique Lhuillier created a dress of Chantilly lace for Underwood and also designed the bridesmaids’ dresses. The ceremony featured classical music and readings of the couple’s favorite Bible version, National Hockey League players, as well as Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, American Idol contestants, and judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson were in attendance. She surprised her husband by having one of their favorite artists, Brandon Heath, sing his song “Love Never Fails” for their first dance. Together, the couple has one child, Isaiah Michael Fisher, born February 27, 2015.
On February 11, 2011, an Ottawa radio station, 105.3 CISS-FM, banned 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. 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 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 number 85.
According to Forbes, Underwood earned $7 million between 2006 and 2007, $9 million between 2007 and 2008, $14 million between 2008 and 2009, $13 million between 2009 and 2010, $20 million between 2010 and 2011, $5 million between 2011 and 2012, $31 million between 2012 and 2013 and $10 million between 2013 and 2014 Underwood’s total career net worth is over $110 million, with $83 million being earned in the past five years, making her the top-earning Idol alum of all time.
In 2010, Underwood and Fisher bought a mansion on 11 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. In 2012, the couple bought a cottage outside of Nashville. They use the cottage for weekend get aways. Oprah toured and interviewed Underwood and Fisher at the cottage for their appearance on Oprah’s Next Chapter.
In January 2014 it was reported that Underwood topped the 2013 list of the highest-paid American Idol alumni, reportedly earning $31 million. This was not only more than any American Idol contestant, but it exceeded the annual earnings of 2013 judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban.
Underwood is an animal lover and a vegan. 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 in 2007 for the second time, the first being in 2005 alongside Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, who was himself a vegetarian at the time. 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.”
In April 2013, Underwood, an animal lover, spoke out with disapproval regarding the Tennessee “Ag Gag bill”. 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. 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?” State Rep. Andy Holt responded to her tweet, saying, “I would say that Carrie Underwood will stick to singing, 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”. 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…”
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. In 2005, she performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons, and in 2006 at the NBA All-Star Game. 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. She also performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the NFC Championship Game between the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers in 2006, as well as at the 2006 edition of NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, the MLB All Star Game in Pittsburgh, PA, and at Game 3 of the 2007 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. On February 7, 2010, Underwood performed the National Anthem for Super Bowl XLIV.