“I don’t know if I could pick one moment over the past 10 years that reigns supreme above others,” she recently told CMT.com during a one-on-one interview regarding her triumphant last decade. “But obviously, American Idol is what launched everything following it.”
When America first laid eyes on the country music sweetheart, the fresh-faced and charming Checotah, Oklahoma, native was nervous yet poised as she rubbed the pant legs of her faded blue jeans. She could be seen pacing the hallway outside of the audition room where she’d soon meet judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. Accompanied by her supportive mother who said her daughter was “beautiful” and “had the voice,” little did they — or country music know — a superstar was soon to be born.
Nearly 10 years later, Underwood is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, has had her own exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, racked up countless country music awards while also selling out concert venues around the globe. Just recently, she announced the launch of her own workout clothing line coming in March 2015.
But she isn’t stopping there. The polished superstar is releasing her first greatest hits album, Greatest Hits: Decade #1, while also preparing to embark on perhaps the most important journey yet — motherhood.
“I think right now, you just get to look to the future and wonder,” she said, her baby bump barely visible beneath a beautifully embellished white top. “It’s just such a really magical time. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s just possibilities, and I think that’s something that’s so cool.
“I’ve had some really incredible moments. Being a member of the Grand Ole Opry is something I still can’t believe. I’m a member of the Grand Ole Opry!” she grinned. “Our travels taking us to different places — me getting to go play in London and Ireland and Australia. I mean, it’s just such a cool thought to think that I have fans in other countries. I never thought I’d go to another country, let alone people know me and my music there.”
“It’s been a really cool experience for me being able to reflect on the past 10 years,” she said. “When you’re kind of in the big middle of it, you kind of forget to take a look around every once in a while. It’s been cool for me to go through the pictures, go through the songs and reflect and remember the feelings and the thoughts and the craziness that was happening around each song or each video or each photo shoot.
What’s more, you can also feel the validity in Underwood’s words as she reflects and relives her last decade of memories and music.
Simply put, she just wants to make her mama proud.
“More than anything,” she smiles. “I feel like if I do that, then that will come off to the rest of the world and people can say, ‘OK, she was a positive energy onstage’ — or wherever I am, whatever I’m doing. That’s kind of how I try to think about it.
“My mom was definitely a huge, positive influence on my life. She’s just a strong woman, hardworking and beautiful.”
Underwood doesn’t set out to consciously think of this aspect with each decision she makes because, admittedly, she would drive herself crazy with questions like, “‘Should I sing that song? Should I wear that thing? Should I wear my hair that way?’”
Instead, the mom-to-be hopes to continue to make well thought-out decisions, much like that of her own parents.
“My mom is such a great leader-by-example kind of person,” she said. “Both of my parents are. They were just good, hardworking, Christian people. Great to each other. Great to us. People always ask me, ‘Is there any advice (your mother has given you)?’ And I’m like, ‘No, she didn’t have to give me advice because I saw her in action.’”
Clearly, even with her magnified fame in recent years, Underwood’s ego remains healthy. In fact, stardom doesn’t seem to have phased that same modesty and charm America fell in love with nearly ten years ago.
“I think I’m constantly surprised and amazed at the crowd,” she said. “Anytime I’m doing an album or we’re starting a tour … I mean, even every night when I walk onstage, there’s always that little bit of me that’s like, ‘Are people going to want to hear it? Are people going to buy the album? Are people going to come to the show?’ And then they do!”
“And it’s always a surprise and it’s always a wonderful surprise. It’s great to hear them singing along and enjoying what we do as much as I do.”