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Meet Carrie Underwood
By Gary Voorhies  
2006 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc. 

"American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood grew up in Checotah, Okla., where her father worked at a paper mill and her mother taught school. The youngest of three girls, Underwood started singing at church at 3 years old. 

By seventh grade, the "little girl with the big voice," began to enter local talent shows. 

Underwood's early music influences varied. "I grew up listening to The Four Seasons and The Bee Gees, John Denver and The Beatles. I learned to love the music of the '80s through my sisters. And growing up in Oklahoma, it was hard not to know Country Music really well. I started listening to it in the car and then my mom and dad picked up on it," she said.

Underwood studied journalism at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, where she produced a student-run television program, wrote for the school paper and performed in a Country Music show on campus. One night after a show, Underwood drove to St. Louis, where she waited eight hours to sing Martina McBride's "Phones Are Ringing All Over Town" for the "American Idol" audition. 

After a series of callbacks, Underwood earned a spot on the show. When she won, Underwood signed to 19 Recordings/Arista Records. Her first release, "Inside Your Heaven," made Billboard chart history as the first Country Music song to debut in the top spot on the Hot 100. She embarked on a 40-city "American Idol" summer tour and appeared in national advertising campaigns for Hershey's chocolate and Skechers.

Produced by Mark Bright and Dann Huff, Underwood's debut album, Some Hearts, was released Nov. 15, 2005 and features the single, "Jesus Take the Wheel," written by Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson and Brett James. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, selling 314,000 copies in its first week, making Underwood the highest-debuting new artist in the Country genre during the SoundScan era. The album went Gold after only two weeks and remained at No. 1 for five consecutive weeks. In January, Some Hearts went Double Platinum and is the RIAA's fastest-certified and Nielsen SoundScan's fastest-selling debut Country album.

The album has also become the fastest-selling "American Idol" project to date, outpacing earlier CDs at the six-week sales point.

Who is your musical hero?
"Martina McBride."
What CD is on your stereo right now?
"The new Foo Fighters album, In Your Honor."

What book is on your nightstand right now?
"The Bible."

What do you sing in the shower?
"I really only sing in my car, but when I do sing, it's loud and obnoxious."
What is your pet peeve?
"When people don't take care of their animals.  I would say this is much more than a pet peeve though."

What actor would portray you in a biopic about your life?
"Maybe Reese Witherspoon.  People say we look alike (I wish) and I like her."
What moment in your life would you relive if you could?
"And the winner of 'American Idol' 2005 is."

On the Web: www.carrieunderwood.com

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