I don’t know what makes me happier about this Most Influential list announced Thursday (April 24) by Time magazine — that Carrie Underwood is on it, that it’s a very, very short list or that they chose Brad Paisley to write about why Underwood deserves her place on the list.
The list is a diverse one. Underwood is nestled in there with Robert Redford, Pope Francis, Barack Obama and 96 other chosen ones. But what they all have in common, among other things, is their tenacity for taking on a good challenge.
For Underwood, that sometimes comes through in her music.
“But it’s her decency as a person that is so impressive,” Paisley says. “She’s an advocate for causes like animal rights and the Red Cross. She has publicly challenged lawmakers when she’s disagreed with them and covered controversial issues in her music.
“She has faith, a sense of self and loves a good challenge. When most singers tackle a Broadway musical, it’s in front of a thousand people. She did it in front of 20 million,” he said of Underwood’s decision to star in the live TV broadcast of The Sound of Music.
But Paisley also seems to think it’s Underwood’s perseverance that deserves praise.
“I remember Carrie Underwood early on telling me how badly she wanted to earn her place in our industry,” he recalled. “It was 2005, and she had just won American Idol and had her first No. 1 song. Fast-forward to 2014. Not only has she earned her place, she’s also raised the bar. She’s a prolific songwriter, a trendsetter and an Opry member. She can sing the fire out of a song and tell a joke. I’m always amazed at her comedic timing and instincts when we co-host the CMA Awards.
But the most telling remark about Underwood’s influence comes not from Paisley, the singer, but from Paisley, the father of two young sons.
“So many young girls want to be just like her,” he says. “In that sense, I see hope for the world. If I had a daughter, nothing would make me happier than to hear her say she wanted to grow up to be like Carrie Underwood.”