In a revealing write-up, Carrie Underwood dives deep into her past, revealing the moment – and deep uncertainty – she held when deciding to audition for “American Idol.”
A household name nearly overnight after her ‘Idol’ win, Carrie Underwood needs no introduction. That being said, the country music icon hasn’t revealed much about her decision to get into the business she was obviously born to thrive within.
Writing candidly for Guideposts, current Queen of Country Carrie Underwood “reveals how her small-town upbringing shaped her faith, career and family life.”
Few topics are left off the table for Underwood. About half-way through her extensive op-ed, the country icon recounts the exact moment she knew she wanted to audition for ‘American Idol’. At the time of Underwood’s interest – her own college days – ‘Idol’ was the most popular reality television show on air. Tens of millions of people watched live every single week. during it’s run. This, however, didn’t seem to impact her initial decision.
“After I graduated from Checotah High (go, Wildcats!), I went off to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma— population 16,000, give or take—in the foothills of the Ozarks, to major in mass communications with an emphasis on broadcast journalism,” Underwood starts off, clarifying her situation at the time.
The most revealing comment from the star from this opener, however, immediately follows.
“If I were really lucky, maybe I’d end up on TV,” she says.
Carrie Underwood Details Her Journey to ‘American Idol’
According to Underwood, auditioning for ‘Idol’ was an organic development. Nothing fell into her lap, either. Instead, her story is very similar to many other stars who’ve come from the show’s pantheon. The difference for her, however, is the level of success the reality show brought her.
“The summer before my senior year, I was home one day, watching TV—the one in the living room—and saw a news segment about people auditioning for the show American Idol,” she begins on her impending ‘Idol’ legacy. “I checked online. The closest auditions were being held in St. Louis.”
“How far away is St. Louis?” Underwood recalls asking her mother, Carole Underwood.
“Six or seven hours in the car,” her mother replies to the college student.
“Too far,” Underwood thought. “Out of the question.“
She didn’t expect her mother to be for such a reach. Especially so soon before finishing her college degree.
“Why do you want to know?” she says her mother asked nonchalantly.
“They’re having American Idol auditions there,” Underwood told her.
“I’ll take you,” her mother replied. “Just like that,” Underwood says, her ‘Idol’ audition was set in motion.
Underwood: “I was terrified”
“It would be easy to say the rest is history, that it was meant to be. But it didn’t feel like that at the time. Going through a slew of auditions in St. Louis, getting the “golden ticket” to Hollywood, every contestant’s dream, I was terrified,” she continues. “Every time I had to sing in front of the judges, I’d get nervous the way I did in church that first time. Then I’d say a prayer and leave it in God’s hands,” the devout Christian star notes.
Furthermore, Underwood was “so distracted that when Mom and Dad were driving to the airport to go to Hollywood, I realized I’d forgotten lip liner.” This is when the enormity of her rise through the ranks of the show’s auditions hit her – all at once.
“We stopped at a grocery store, and Mom dashed inside to buy some. All at once, it was just too much. Going out to Los Angeles by myself, competing with all those other people who were so talented. I burst into tears,” she recalls.
“My dad turned to me in the backseat. “Carrie,” he said, “we can go home right now, and we don’t ever have to talk about it again,” she notes of her father, Stephen Underwood.
“I took a deep breath,” Carrie follows.
“No,” I said at last. “I’ll go.”
Ryan Seacrest Helped Put Stardom in Perspective for Underwood
Speaking on her later part of the ‘American Idol’ journey, Carrie Underwood adds that host Ryan Seacrest was integral in opening her eyes to what was ahead.
“In L.A., Ryan Seacrest interviewed me and asked if I’d seen any stars. “No, it’s been too cloudy,” I said, not getting that he meant famous actors and singers. That naivete, that innocence, is something I’ve come to be grateful for,” she notes.
As such, her own humility comes full circle. It is something she holds tightly to, as well – for both herself and her growing family.
“Growing up on a farm with loving parents and our church family defined my values,” she clarifies of her makings. “A small town with good people helped form me. I was rooted in something solid before I got to spread my wings.”
“I might be one of those stars myself these days,” she notes of her own megastar status, “but Mike and I do all we can to raise our two boys with values like the ones I grew up with in Checotah. Down-to-earth, church on Sundays, plenty of grass and trees and space outside for them to roam. At night, when we put the boys to bed, we pray out loud with them. Just talking to God, letting them know he hears their every word.”
For more on her small-town upbringing in her own words, Carrie Underwood also goes in-depth here for her wonderful Guideposts feature, as well.