Carrie Underwood continues to make her mark as an international phenomenon, which is merely one of the reasons she’s among the 2019 CMT Artists of the Year. The “Southbound” singer earned major media attention surrounding her UK tour in June, particularly for a set at the Glastonbury Festival.
“There have been so many moments this past year that have been just felt really great in all that we’re doing,” she says. “We did get to play Glastonbury, which isn’t something that’s necessarily offered a whole lot to country music artists. I loved the randomness of the lineup and I feel like people were curious what we’re we all about from Nashville, Tennessee.”
Underwood has surely learned what Reba McEntire discovered as her career blossomed in the 1980s and ’90s — that if you’re wildly talented, super smart and as relentless as a telemarketer, the world is yours. So the two Oklahoma natives should be in perfect harmony on Nov. 13 when they join hands with Dolly Parton to co-host the 53rd annual CMA Awards.
Underwood readily admits that McEntire – who will be honored with a CMT Artist of a Lifetime recognition — has been a major role model. “I don’t know if she’s so much given me advice as she’s led by example,” she muses. “She’s conducted herself with poise and class, and she’s gorgeous. She’s taught me how to change my clothes hundreds of times during any event.”
The hosting duties are old hat for Underwood, who also emceed the CMA Awards with Brad Paisley from 2008 to 2018. Currently embarked on her Cry Pretty 360 Tour, she has lately sold out such fabled arenas as Madison Square Garden, the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Underwood hit the ground running as soon as she triumphed on American Idol in 2005. Her winning single from that show, “Inside Your Heaven” debuted at No. 1 on the pop chart. Near the end of hat year, she released her first album, Some Hearts. It established her solidly as a country star via such chart-toppers as “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats” and “Wasted.”
Some Hearts remains her bestselling album, with more than eight million copies sold in the U. S. alone. It also earned her the first three of her seven Grammys. In 2006, Underwood copped her first CMA awards—female vocalist of the year and the Horizon trophy. These wins set a pattern that still prevails with all her seven studio albums selling gold or better.
“I love having a lot irons in the fire,” she says of her insanely varied work load. “We just figure everything out as we go along. . . . I want to knock people’s socks off. I’ve written more songs for this [Cry Pretty] album than I ever have before. We put more songs into this tour. It’s two hours, and it’s not like a two-hour jam session. It’s two hours of music.”
For a long time, it’s seemed like everybody who is anybody has managed to record or appear on stage with Underwood — among them Tony Bennett, Steven Tyler, Randy Travis, the Rolling Stones, U2, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Bruce Sprinsteen, Metallica and Foo Fighters. Priscilla Presley personally requested that she record with Elvis’ tracks the holiday duet “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” In 2010, Garth Brooks inducted her into the Grand Ole Opry.
As an actress, Underwood appeared in the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother and the movie Soul Surfer. But her tour de force came in 2013 when she played the lead role of Maria in a live TV version of The Sound of Music.
The enterprising songstress has also lent her name to such company and products as Target, Nintendo, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Olay. She’s also created her own line of causal/active clothing.
Adding to Underwood’s fame is her marriage to hockey star Mike Fisher, a union that has produced two sons — an eight-month-old and a 4-year-old — and tons of publicity.
Since Underwood won her American Idol competition, she has been nominated for 310 awards by various organizations, shows and publications. Of these, she’s won 174, so many that Wikipedia devotes a separate page to the list.
This year, Underwood is up for three CMA awards — entertainer, female vocalist and album (Cry Pretty) of the year. Yet her stature as a CMT Artist of the Year is indisputable.
7 albums, including greatest hits package (1 gold, 2 platinum, 4 multiplatinum)
28 singles (16 No. 1’s, 9 gold, 10 platinum, 6 multiplatinum)
7 Grammys, 9 CMA awards, 5 CMT Artist of the Year awards
Member Grand Ole Opry, Hollywood Walk of Fame