LAS VEGAS — Even in a city with a billion lights, Carrie Underwood was positively glowing in the backstage pressroom at the Academy of Country Music Awards following her victory for entertainer of the year, which hasn’t been won by a woman since the Dixie Chicks in 2000. Underwood also picked up the female vocalist award and performed “I Told You So” during the ceremony in Las Vegas on Sunday night (April 5). Visibly excited, Underwood fielded questions from reporters just a few minutes after earning the night’s top trophy which became a fan-voted category last year.
How does it feel to be the first woman to win entertainer of the year since 2000?
It’s indescribable, to be quite honest. And I can’t wait till the day — which I hope is in the very near future — when having females in the category is no big deal whatsoever. I would like to say that I accept that award on behalf of myself and my fans, but also I think I have to accept it on behalf of all the other women who came before that kicked butt, that never got the recognition they deserved. And on behalf of all their fans, as well, because [the fans] supported them and loved them, and [the women] never got a chance to be nominated for such an award.
What did Kenny Chesney say on your way to the stage when he gave you a hug?
He told me he was proud of me. I think it’s really interesting. I’ve been on tour with three of the four other nominees. And I’ve known George Strait since birth, so they’ve taught me everything I know! (giggles)
Why haven’t more women been nominated in this category?
I don’t really know. I’m not really sure. I mean, it’s definitely a male-dominated genre of music. But I think women are actually doing well. Not just myself. There are so many strong women who are selling [records] like crazy and selling out concerts like crazy. It’s amazing. It’s really good.
What does the entertainer of the year award represent to you?
That’s the big enchilada. That’s the one that they save until the end, and they save it until the end for a reason. When you grow up watching the ACMs, you sit on the floor and you wait for that moment when your favorite person gets up there and wins that award. It’s great. It’s indescribable, and the overwhelming emotions that are just — ah! I don’t know what happened, I honestly don’t. I blacked out from my chair to about now. But, oh, it’s easy to be emotional when you feel so much and you’re so excited and happy.
How are you celebrating tonight, and who are you celebrating with?
My mom and my sister are here, and a lot of people I work with are here, so we’re going to hang out. We’re going to go to the all-star jam [an ACM-sponsored party following the awards show] and hang out and have fun and hang with fans because (in a giddy voice) that’s why I won entertainer of the year.
Can you tell us about the dress you wore during “I Told You So”?
“I Told You So” is such a beautiful, simple song. I’m not going to get up and dance around and I’m not going to have a lot of stuff going on behind me. Because it’s such a beautiful song, it sells itself. You don’t need bells and whistles. I wanted to create something that was very visual. My stylist, Trish, came and showed me a picture [of the dress], and it was such an interesting concept. I loved it. People are either going to love it, or they’re going to think I’m weird, but I thought it looked beautiful. I can’t wait to watch it back and see how they did with all the lighting and camera tricks. I was very pleased, and I was very glad I decided to go that route.
You sang “I Told You So” during two big moments already — tonight and for your Grand Ole Opry induction. Where will the song go down in your history?
I will say that it’s actually responsible for three great moments in my life. I remember hearing it when I was little. It came out in 1988 when I was 5, and I just remember that song my whole life, pretty much. It’s so special to me. Randy [Travis] let me sing it, let me borrow it. It seems like good things happen when I sing that song, so I’m going to sing that song every morning when I wake up and wait to see what happens.
Did you think you had a chance to win entertainer of the year tonight?
You never want to think you have no chance. I probably thought I had very little chance because when you’re in a category with names like Kenny, Keith, George and Brad, all those, and then there’s little Carrie. … I’m very grateful to my fans that came through. They put me in this business in the first place. It’s really good to know that I still have that support.View photos from the backstage pressroom.