Carrie Marie Underwood first came to the public's attention after winning the fourth season of American Idol, in 2005. She has since become a multi-platinum selling recording artist, a multiple Grammy Award winner, a Grand Ole Opry inductee, a Golden Globe Award nominee, a three-time Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Female Vocalist winner, a GMA Dove award winner, and is also the reigning Academy of Country Music (ACM) Entertainer of the Year.
She is the first ever female artist to win back-to-back ACM Awards for Entertainer of the Year. Carrie accomplished this feat by winning it in 2009 and 2010. As of May 2010, Underwood has sold 20 million singles and over 16 million albums worldwide.
Carrie is the only Female Artist to appear on the Top 10 of Billboard's Best Country Artists of the 2000 Decade list, ranked at #10. She was also ranked #50 on the Artists of the Decade list by Billboard. In 2010, Underwood was #3 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs Artists, #4 on the Top Country Album Artists and #23 on Top Artists of 2010.
Her debut album, Some Hearts, was certified seven times platinum, and as of February 2006, was the fastest selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history. It was also the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history, as of February 2008. Some Hearts yielded three number one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs. Some Hearts named the Best Country Album of the 2000 Decade by Billboard.
Her second album, Carnival Ride, was released in October 2007. By January 2010 it sold over 3 million copies, being certified 3 times Platinum, and produced four number one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs.
Underwood released her third album, Play On, in November 2009. It has been certified Platinum twice and has produced three number one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs so far.
Having 10 #1 Hits on Billboard Hot Country Songs, Underwood is tied with Reba McEntire as the Female Country Artist with Most #1 Hits on such chart from 1990 to present. She's also the only solo Country Artist to have a #1 hit on Billboard Hot 100 Songs in the 2000 decade, as "Inside Your Heaven" reached the top of the chart on July 2005.
Underwood graduated from Checotah High School in 2001 as salutatorian. After high school, she attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, graduating magna cum laude in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and journalism. For two years during the summer, she performed in Northeastern State University's Downtown Country show in Tahlequah. She also competed in numerous beauty pageants at the university and was selected as Miss NSU runner-up in 2004.
In the summer of 2004, Underwood auditioned for American Idol in St. Louis, Missouri. After she sang "Could've Been" by Tiffany on the top 12 girls night, judge Simon Cowell commented that she would be one of the favorites to win the competition.
During the top 11 finalists' performance on the March 22, 2005, Idol episode, Underwood sang a rendition of the number one 1980s rock hit "Alone," made famous by Heart, and Cowell predicted that Underwood would not only win the competition, but she would also outsell all previous Idol winners.
One of the show's producers later said she dominated the voting, winning each week handily. She gained a fan base known as "Carrie's Care Bears" during the course of the show, and became the fourth season winner on May 25, 2005.