by Jessica Nicholson
Carrie Underwood’s mother Carole recently made a guest appearance on the series “Through Mom’s Eyes,” and told TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones about her daughter’s journey from a talented small-town girl to one of music’s biggest superstars.
Though Underwood launched her career by performing for millions of viewers on American Idol, her mother Carole recalled a time when Underwood was hesitant to perform in local talent shows in Oklahoma.
“I would call and say ’Can Carrie sing? Will you let Carrie sing on this one?’” Underwood’s mom recalled. “And, you know, she hated it, because her friends were going to be out there, and she didn’t like to sing in front of her friends. And sometimes it was like — she might be crying before she would get up there to sing. But she did. … She always did. She just truly had a gift from God.”
Her mother would make performance costumes for Underwood’s talent show appearances.
“When you’re in little talent shows and you’re singing country music, you have to be all sparkly, so I would get material and I would make her costumes,” she said. “I look back at it fondly and think ’Well, you know what, I did a pretty good job there, didn’t I?’”
Though it was clear that Underwood was extremely talented, her mother says she never considered her daughter’s talent would lead to record sales, sold-out tours, awards wins, and co-hosting major awards shows.
“I truly never thought about it being something. It was just what she liked to do, so it never occurred to me that there might be a future in it for her.”
In college, Underwood majored in mass communications, and her mother supported Carrie’s decision to audition for American Idol, figuring the television appearance would benefit her journalism career.
“We never even considered that she could win it at all, but at least maybe she could have some face and name recognition, and she would get to be an anchor or something on one of our local TV shows in Tulsa,” she said.
Underwood auditioned in St. Louis, Missouri, earned her golden ticket to Hollywood to compete on the show, and made it through round after round before ultimately being declared the Idol champion.
Her mother recalled those weeks of Idol competitions, where judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul critiqued contestants, and the competitor pool slowly dwindled.
“I always dreaded Tuesdays and I hated Wednesdays, because her song was going to go on Tuesday, and so I always had to pray that she would be able to hit that high note, and that she would carry the tune like it was supposed to be,” Underwood said. “It was just harrowing for me. And I’m sure it was for her, too.”
Nearly 16 years after winning American Idol, Underwood now has seven Grammy honors to her credit, has sold millions of albums, and has launched a clothing line and a best-selling book.
Even so, Underwood’s mother says she is the same down-to-earth person.
“You don’t realize that celebrities truly are just people,” said Underwood. “They wash their clothes. They fold their clothes. You know? I just don’t want her to change how she is, and I think she doesn’t.”