Throughout her transformation from small-town singer to full-fledged country star, Carrie Underwood has been in the spotlight ever since she graced the stage on American Idol. An immediate success, the smooth country singer stole our hearts and went on to accomplish something truly wonderful: the melding of the pop and country music genres in a way that no one had done before. We know Underwood best for her pipes and secondly for her gorgeous looks, but there are certainly a few things (13 to be exact…) we didn’t know about this country-girl-at-heart.
1. She delivered her high school salutatorian address in 2001 sporting an unusual look. At her graduation from Checotah High School, Underwood walked with a black eye that resulted not from a fight, but a stray softball.
2. At Northeastern State University, Carrie was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority – Linda Denham, the creator of Care Bears is also a member.
3. Given her all-American looks and million-dollar smile, it’s no surprise that Carrie was involved in beauty pageants in her college days. She was the Miss NSU runner up in 2004.
4. Capitol Records offered Underwood a recording deal in 1996, when she was 13. This was the same year that LeAnn Rimes (at age 14) hit the country charts with the song “Blue.”
5. Underwood has a bit of an organization obsession. The vegetarian (who stopped eating meat when she was a young 13) organizes her refrigerator and kitchen pantry in perfect rows, with labels showing.
6. As a mass communications major with an emphasis on journalism, Underwood wrote for her school paper at Northeastern State University. Known as The Northeastern, the publication was another outlet for this budding journalist.
7. This good girl has two tattoos that she says “don’t mean anything.” Though they’re usually well concealed, the singer sports a four-leaf clover and a black cat.
8. Before she got the opportunity to join the American Idol family, Carrie made money as a waitress at a pizza joint in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In addition to serving up pies and pasta at Sam and Ella’s Pizza Joint (where she never sang), her love of animals led her to spend time working at a zoo and a veterinary clinic.
9. She’s always been an animal lover. When Carrie was younger, she found sick animals and brought them home to nurse them back to health. This lead her to work at a veterinary clinic when she got to college as well as get involved in her hometown’s animal shelter by establishing the C.A.T.S. (Checotah Animal, Town, School) Foundation in 2009.
10. Even this superstar had a little bit of help back in the day. Underwood worked with renowned vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams, who’s known as one of the best in the business, before she made her debut on American Idol. Carrie shares Grant-Williams in common with the likes of Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, Kenny Chesney, Bob Weir, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Dixie Chicks and Linda Ronstadt.
11. Underwood believes that things work out the way they’re supposed to. Nothing ultimately happened with the 1996 Capitol Records deal, but she said to the AP during her time on Idol “I honestly think it’s a lot better that nothing came out of it now, because I wouldn’t have been ready then. Like I said, everything has a way of working out. Obviously there was a reason that that didn’t happen.”
12. A self-proclaimed health nut, Carrie pays attention to what she eats without being totally obsessive. She’s kept a food journal for seven years – perhaps we should take note, as that food journal has done quite a number on her killer physique.
13. She became the youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry at age 26. On May 10, 2008, she was inducted by fellow country crooner Garth Brooks.