Years of talent reality shows have shown that winners are not necessarily guaranteed to be successful. While the shows give much-needed exposure and can be a significant stepping stone in a career, it does not confer success. Yet, there are always exceptions, and for American Idol, it is Carrie Underwood, who has built a mega career as a country musician.
Since winning the competition in 2005, she has sold millions of records, become a philanthropy icon, and been in a successful marriage. It is an impressive series of achievements for a woman who used to wait tables at a pizzeria, and here is the story of how it all unfolded.
Carrie Underwood’s Early Life and Search for Success
Carrie Marie Underwood was born on March 10, 1983, in Oklahoma, United States, and grew up in Checotah, Oklahoma, in a farmstead. Her parents are Stephen and Carole Underwood. Her father was a worker in a sawmill while her mum taught in an elementary school. She has two siblings Stephanie Underwood Shelton and Shanna Underwood Means, and they are both teachers in Oklahoma.
She attended Checotah High School and partook in sporting activities like basketball and softball, she also joined the Honour Society and was a cheerleader in her days there. When she was 14, a local admirer helped her secure an audition for Capitol Records.
The record label was impressed with her and offered her a contract. Unfortunately, a change in management killed the deal. Despite making a series of attempts to secure a music contract afterward, it never came. Carrie gave up on a music career in pursuit of a traditional career part.
After her graduation in 2001 from Checotah High School, she proceeded to Northeastern State University, where she studied Mass Communication and majored in journalism, she graduated with an outstanding result in 2006. During this time, she waited tables at a pizzeria, worked at a veterinary clinic and a zoo.
Finding Breakthrough on American Idol
Although Carrie Underwood was no longer in pursuit of a music career, she continued singing publicly. She performed at her university’s Downtown Country show. In 2004, she auditioned for a spot-on American Idol and made it to the main competition.
Early into the show, she was a favorite to win, and it proved to be true. On her way to achieving the landmark success, Carrie dominated voting every week and quickly amassed a large fanbase. Her final song, Bless the Broken Road, helped her win the competition.
For winning the show, she earned the use of a private jet for a year, a Ford Mustang convertible, and a recording contract worth a million dollars.
Carrie Underwood’s Early Years as a Professional Musician
Her debut album immediately after the American Idol, Some Hearts, released on November 15, 2005, was a huge success. It earned her number one spot on the Billboard country album chart and later became the bestselling album in all genres in 2006.
She broke other significant records with the album. They include the biggest debut by a country artist since 1991, bestselling country album in 2006 and 2007, first female artist in Billboard artist to earn hold back to back Top Country Album titles. So far, the album has sold more than nine million copies worldwide, according to Music Week.
Singles released in promotion of the album include Jesus, Take the Wheel, Some Hearts, and Before He Cheats. They were all commercially successful, establishing the commercial appeal that will define Carrie Underwood’s career as a country musician.
In her debut year as an artist, she received several awards and nominations, including Single of the Year, Top New Female Vocalist, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. She received awards from major organizations like the Grammys, Country Music Association, and American Music Awards.
Her Sophomore Album Established Her as a Superstar
Whatever doubts were attached to Carrie Underwood’s debut album, critical and commercial performance disappeared after she released her second album, Carnival Ride. The 2007 album performed at similarly high levels to her debut project, proving that she is no fluke.
Accompanied by commercially successful singles like So Small, Last Name, and I Told You So, Carnival Ride has sold more than four million copies worldwide. Like its predecessor, it also won her several awards, including two Grammy Awards and one Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards.
With her impact established, Carrie has released other albums like Play On, Blown Away, Cry Pretty, and Storyteller. Her career and fame have earned her the title of ‘Queen of Country,’ and in addition to her albums, she has 35 singles, with 38 music videos, and one major compilation of greatest hits album.
Carrie Underwood’s Awards, Accolades, and Personal Records
Among so many award nominations, Underwood has won several, including 7 Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 12 American Music Awards, 16 Billboards Music Awards, 8 Country Music Association Awards, a Guinness World record.
She is the first and only artist in American Music Award history to win the Favorite Album award with six consecutive albums. She is a part of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the youngest ever to be inducted into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry. Underwood also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, received in 2018.
Carrie Underwood from 2009 to 2020 has done more than 150 tours and concerts around the US, Europe, Canada, and England, which were always completely sold out. From 2009 till 2020, she has consistently released quality hit records that have not only topped charts but earned her widespread recognition and awards.
So far, she has sold more than 70 million records globally, putting her as the fifth highest-certified female artist in all genres. Twenty million of her total album sales comes from the US alone, and an additional 40 million singles sold.
She has equally dabbed into the film industry with her first debut being in the biopic movie Soul Surfer in which as acted as Sarah Hill. Carrie Underwood also featured in episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Sesame Street. She was cast as Maria von Trapp in the 2012 NBC show of The Sound of Music.
She Has a $140 Million Net Worth
Unsurprisingly, Carrie Underwood’s enormous commercial appeal and accomplishments have helped her to a personal net worth of $140 million. Since making her debut in 2005, she has continuously featured among Forbes’ Top 100 highest-earning celebrities, thanks to album sales, endorsements, and tour income.
As a touring artist, she has sold over 4.3 million concert tickets. Her shows have also grossed more than $265 million. As an artist with a massive fanbase, Carrie has lucrative multi-million dollar endorsements from several brands, including Skechers, Nintendo, Almay, Target, and more. She also has a fitness clothing line, CALIA, as part of her partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Carrie Underwood also makes money from publishing. Her debut book, Find Your Path, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. The singer released the book in March 2020.
How Carrie Underwood Leveraged Her Success and Wealth for Charity
Carrie Underwood doesn’t just release multiplatinum records, go on global tours, and promote fashion brands. She also commits her considerable influence on improving different aspects of society.
In 2009, Carrie started the Checotah Animal, Town, and School Foundation. It actively advocates for the rights of animals and supports art education in Checotah, Oklahoma. She is also a supporter of the Humane Society of the United States and has donated money to the organization.
Other significant philanthropic efforts include donating $1 of every ticket sold in the North American leg of her Blown Away Tour to the American and Canadian Red Cross. The move raised $1 million donated in May 2013.
She recorded the song, Just Stand Up, with other major female musicians for cancer awareness. The song peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also helped Stand Up to Cancer pull up to $73.6 million in funding for cancer research.
She periodically supports other causes like the Save the Children, Red Cross Society, St. Jude Kids Research, etc. As part of her belief in the humane treatment of people, she is a supporter of LGBT rights. She has also performed for the US military under the United Service Organization.
Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher Have Been Together Since 2008
Carrie Underwood met Mike Fisher, a 6-foot hockey player in 2008, backstage after one of her concerts. They started dating and got engaged in 2009. They tied the knot in a lavish wedding on July 10, 2010, at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Georgia, surrounded by their families and friends.
Their union has a son whom they named Isaiah Michael Fisher. He was born on February 27, 2015. After suffering three miscarriages in just over a year, Carrie gave birth to the family’s second child, a son, Jacob Bryan Fisher.
The couple initially lived in Ottawa, Canada, where Mike played professional hockey for the Ottawa Senators. After his trade to the Nashville Predators, the family moved to Nashville and have been living there ever since.