Carrie Marie Underwood (born: March 10, 1983) is an American singer, songwriter, fashion designer, and actress. She rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. Her debut single, "Inside Your Heaven", made her the only country artist to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the only solo country artist in the 2000s to have a number-one song on the Hot 100. Her debut album, Some Hearts (2005), was bolstered by the huge crossover success of the singles "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and "Before He Cheats", becoming the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history, the fastest-selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history and the best-selling country album of the last 16 years. Underwood won three Grammy Awards for the album, including Best New Artist.
Her second album, Carnival Ride, followed in 2007. It had one of the biggest opening weeks of all time by a female artist and won two Grammy Awards. Her next album, 2009's Play On, was a commercial success led by the single "Cowboy Casanova". Underwood's fourth album, Blown Away (2012), earned her a Grammy Award and was that year's second best-selling release by a female artist. Her first compilation album, Greatest Hits: Decade #1 (2014), was a chart and sales success and spawned the Grammy Award-winning crossover single "Something in the Water". Her fifth album, Storyteller (2015), made her the only country artist to have all first five studio albums reach either numbers one or two on the Billboard 200 chart. With her sixth album, Cry Pretty (2018), she became the only woman to top the Billboard 200 with four country albums, and had both the biggest week for any album by a woman in 2018 and the best-selling solo female album of the year.
One of the most successful music artists, Underwood has sold 70 million records worldwide. She is the seventh highest-certified female artist of all time on the RIAA's Top Artists (Digital Singles) ranking, the highest-certified country album artist to debut in the 21st century and the woman with most number-one singles on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, with 15. Her accolades include seven Grammy Awards, 11 Billboard Music Awards, 15 American Music Awards, a Guinness world record, 14 ACM Awards and nine CMA Awards. Acclaimed by Rolling Stone as "the female vocalist of her generation of any genre", she was listed by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014. Forbes has declared her the most successful American Idol winner. Billboard named Some Hearts the number-one country album of the 2000s and her as the top female artist on its "Best Country Artists of the 2000s" list. She has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
Carrie Marie Underwood was born on March 10, 1983, in Muskogee, Oklahoma, to Carole (née Shatswell) and Steve Underwood. She has two older sisters, Shanna and Stephanie, and was raised on her parents' farm in the nearby rural town of Checotah. Her father worked in a paper mill while her mother taught elementary school. She was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at age five and was prescribed Ritalin and Dexedrine, medicines she still takes as an adult. During her childhood, Underwood performed at Robbins Memorial Talent Show, and sang at her local church, First Free Will Baptist Church. She later sang for local events in Checotah, including Old Settler's Day and the Lion's Club.
A local admirer arranged for her to go to Nashville when she was 14 to audition for Capitol Records. In 1996, Capitol Records was preparing a contract for Underwood but canceled it when company management changed. Underwood said of the event, "I honestly think it's a lot better that nothing came out of it now, because I wouldn't have been ready then. Everything has a way of working out."
While at Checotah High School, she was an Honor Society member, a cheerleader, and played basketball and softball. Underwood graduated from Checotah High School in 2001 as salutatorian. She chose not to pursue singing after graduation. She said, "After high school, I pretty much gave up on the dream of singing. I had reached a point in my life where I had to be practical and prepare for my future in the 'real world'".
She attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, graduating magna cum laude in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and an emphasis in journalism. She spent part of one of her summers as a page for Oklahoma State Representative Bobby Frame. She also waited tables at a pizzeria, worked at a zoo, and at a veterinary clinic. Underwood is an alumna of the Alpha Iota chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.
For two summers, she performed in Northeastern State University's Downtown Country show in Tahlequah. She competed in numerous beauty pageants at the university and was selected as Miss NSU runner-up in 2004.
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