Carrie Underwood Learns Willie Nelson’s Musical Language

Collaboration on "Always on My Mind" Featured on Icon's New Duets Album

I’ve long been convinced Carrie Underwood’s voice is simply not of this world. Let’s face it: Underwood could sing the Yellow Pages and it would rival just about any performance of any genre on just about any record. Surely nothing can rattle her nerves in a studio session, right?

Apparently Willie Nelson can — and did.

Underwood is one of the beautiful gals and voices featured on Nelson’s new duets album, To All the Girls. She says the opportunity to sing with the icon was an incredible honor — but also a big challenge.

By the time she arrived to lay down her vocal tracks on the recording, Nelson had already completed his part, and it would be her job to follow his lead. And if you know anything about Nelson, you know his distinctive, lilting vocals are uniquely his own, and his phrasing is darn near impossible to recreate.

“He has these Willie-isms, right?” Underwood says. “He lays back and then he speeds up. … It was a challenge being in the studio trying to harmonize with him, but in the end, we got it.”

So when you hear her effortlessly beautiful harmony on the classic “Always on My Mind,” know that the magic of that moment was anything but effortless. But it was completely worth it for both Underwood and the fans who get to hear it.

Released Tuesday (Oct. 15), To All the Girls also features Nelson’s duets with Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss and Norah Jones, among others.

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.