CMA via ABC News
It wasn’t long after Carrie Underwood was born on March 10, 1983 that the Oklahoma farm girl started performing in front of an audience. Of course she started out small at first, singing at a talent show, her church, and many local events.
In the summer of 2004, Underwood auditioned for the popular reality singing competition American Idol, singing Bonnie Raitt‘s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Underwood became an instant favorite on the show, and developed a strong fan base that eventually chose her as their “American Idol.”
Following her Idol win, Underwood released her Multi-Platinum debut album, Some Hearts, which was just one of many successful albums to come. Today, Underwood has sold over 65 million records around the world, and is considered as the highest-earning Idol contestant in the show’s history.
Underwood’s talent is undeniable, with Rolling Stone recognizing her as the female vocalist of her generation in any music genre, not just country. She has earned a total of seven Grammy Awards, has been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and has broken her own records for number one hits.
As amazing as all of Underwood’s awards and honors are, it’s her songs that truly speak to the immense level of her talent.
In celebration of Underwood’s 33rd birthday, we’ve gathered up some of our favorites for you to enjoy.
Released on October 3, 2005 as Underwood’s debut single “Jesus, Take the Wheel” put Underwood on the map not just as a country star, but a music superstar in general. The song became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, but Underwood also managed to accomplish what few country artists do, when her song crossed over to the pop charts, breaking into the top 20 there.
“Jesus, Take the Wheel” ended up spending a total of six weeks at the number one spot on the country charts, and won Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song.
The song’s lyrics tell the story of a young mother who has so much going on in her life that she feels like she’s lost control. She ends up driving too fast down a snowy road, hits a patch of black ice, and loses control of her car. In that moment she cries out for Jesus to take the wheel from her, and the car comes to a stop. From that moment on, she gives him the power to “take the wheel” of her life as well.
As a proud Christian herself, the song was one that Underwood could personally connect to. Between the song’s emotional, heartfelt message and Underwood’s stunning delivery of the lyrics, “Jesus Takes the Wheel” still continues to resonate strongly with audiences today.
Released as the lead single off of Underwood’s fourth album, Blown Away, Underwood first debuted “Good Girl” during a live performance at the Country Radio Seminar event in Nashville.
The song was yet another country chart topper for Underwood, and also claimed the 18th spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Although a bit more up-tempo than some of Underwood’s other songs, “Good Girl” received an overwhelming amount of praise from fans and critics alike, with Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe calling it “an absolutely exhilarating record.”
Underwood co-wrote the song with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorey, which serves as a warning to a “good girl” about the narrator’s “no good” ex-boyfriend. Even though the good girl thinks she found a great guy, the narrator encourages her to get away while she can, singing “His lips are dripping honey/But he’ll sting you like a bee/So lock up all your love and/Go and throw away the key.”
The music video to “Good Girl” is just as fun as the song itself, and went on to win the Video of the Year Award during the fan-picked CMT Music Awards.
After just one decade in the country music scene, Underwood was already able to release her first album of greatest hits. She included two new songs on the album, including the inspirational tune “Something in the Water.”
Like “Jesus, Takes the Wheel,” which was Underwood’s debut single, “Something in the Water” is heavily faith-based. Co-written by Underwood, DeStefano, and Brett James, the song also includes a fragment of “Amazing Grace” toward the end, which Underwood sings as well.
Underwood and the other co-writers centered the song around the story of a person who has been changed after being baptized. When James arrived at Underwood’s Tennessee cabin for a songwriting session, she suggested the title to the song, and James went on to tell Nash Country Weekly in an interview for their December 1, 2014 print issue that it was “one of the most perfect writing days I have had in my life.”
Looking over Carrie Underwood’s career, it’s hard to imagine that she’s only been in the country music industry for a little over a decade. In that short amount of time, she has accomplished things that take many artists decades longer to achieve.
Underwood has more than earned her spot as one of the world’s greatest music superstars. As we look back on the songs she’s released throughout her career so far, we can’t help but get excited at the thought of what she will bring to us in the years to come.
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