Five-time Grammy Award-winning country artist and 2005 “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood will make a stop in Happy Valley, bringing her “Blown Away” tour to State College. The two-time Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year will perform songs from her new album, as well as a vast catalog of hits when she takes the stage at the Bryce Jordan Center on Nov. 13.
Underwood, 29, first broke into the country music scene when she auditioned for “American Idol” in St. Louis in the summer of 2004. It didn’t take long for the country pop sweetheart to win over judge Simon Cowell, who predicted Underwood not only would win the competition, but also outsell all previous “Idol” winners.
Underwood dominated the voting, winning easily week after week until becoming the season-four winner on May 5, 2005.
Seven years after winning the competition, Underwood said she often reflects on the experience that changed her life.
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“I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, of about 3,500 people,” Underwood said. “I always wanted to sing, but I never really considered myself to be any more special than anybody else. I just wanted to sing, and I just thought I’d go try out; and my life changed from that moment on.”
Underwood’s 2005 debut, “Some Hearts,” topped Billboard’s Country Albums chart for 27 weeks, has sold more than seven million copies, and was voted No. 1 country album of the decade by Billboard. Her follow-up album, 2007’s “Carnival Ride,” and 2009’s “Play On” each debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s country and all-genre album charts. Over the course of three albums, Underwood’s catalog of hits has ruled the country radio airwaves with such songs as “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats,” “So Small,” “Just a Dream,” “Cowboy Casanova” and “All-American Girl.”
In the past year, Underwood has performed with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith on CMT’s “Crossroads,” scored a No. 1 country hit with good friend Brad Paisley on “Remind Me,” and sang with legendary pop singer Tony Bennett at this year’s Grammy Awards. But being musically diverse is nothing unusual for Underwood, who grew up surrounded by different genres of music.
“Where I grew up in Oklahoma we have so many country artists, but my parents had different tastes in music,” Underwood said. “My mom liked ’50s and ’60s music, the Supremes, the Carpenters and John Denver, and my dad liked ’60s and ’70s rock, like the Rolling Stones. I remember listening to metal bands like Guns N Roses and a lot of Aerosmith. And I grew up in a really country rural place, so I had a little bit of everything going on.”
The singing superstar recently released her fourth album, “Blown Away,” which includes the first single, “Good Girl,” which became her 15th career No. 1 single. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making Underwood only the third female to chart at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with three country albums, tying her with Linda Ronstadt and Faith Hill. Underwood’s “Blown Away” international tour was launched on Sept. 14, and considering she has been the top-ranked female country touring artist for the past few years, this tour will undoubtedly be one of the hottest tickets of the year.
Since releasing her debut album, Underwood has won an extraordinary number of awards, putting her name with some of country music’s most legendary artists, including Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire and Shania Twain, among others. In 2010, Underwood won her second ACM Entertainer of the Year award, becoming the first female artist to win the award twice. She has also won 10 ACM Awards, six American Music Awards, six People’s Choice Awards, nine CMT Music Awards, nine American Country Awards and seven BMI Songwriter Awards, plus many more.
Underwood may be sharing the spotlight with some of country music’s most famous women, but she speaks modestly of her accomplishments.
“I really don’t consider myself to be in that category at all,” Underwood said. “They pioneered so much and blazed a trail for the rest of us, and of course I hope that’s something that people like myself can do. I know Dolly and I know Loretta, and just to be in their company — that’s wonderful.”
With a long career ahead of her, Underwood is proud of what she has accomplished and feels happy about where she is today and about her future. But despite all she has achieved musically, for her there is much more to it than that.
“As far as music, we’ll see. I love what I do and I love the people that I’m around now,” Underwood said. “But I honestly think the biggest legacy I can leave doesn’t have much to do with music; it’s more about being a good friend, being able to help out people when I can and just being positive.”