Before 2005, Carrie Underwood was just your average college student with a childhood singing talent sheíd forgotten about. That is Ė until she heard American Idol was holding auditions in St. Louis. Although it was hours away, her mom agreed to drive herÖand you probably know what happened next! Carrie made it through that first round and went on to Los Angeles, where week after week America voted her back, until she was finally crowned American Idol 2005. Carrie spoke to IML about what sheís learned and experienced in the past, and about her cool debut album Some Hearts.
IML: What an amazing year youíve had! On your album, the song Lessons Learned talks about how you canít rewrite the past and youíve just got to learn from your experiences. What are some lessons youíve learned over this past year?
Carrie: Iíve learned itís really important to work hard and keep your family and friends close. Youíve got to let them know how much you appreciate them for sticking by you.
IML: What do you value in a friend?
Carrie: They have to be trustworthy and a person who, if itís two in the morning and you really need to talk to someone, will pick up the phone and be glad to talk to you.
IML: If you could look back on your childhood, what would you say was the toughest time?
Carrie: It would be junior high maybe, because when you are little, everyone is your friend and you are everybody elseís friend. You donít really know any better! But when you get older, things start getting a little weird. Boys start getting weird. Everybody starts growing up. Youíre not really a kid anymore and youíre not an adult. Things are just different.
IML: Most IMLíers are dealing with that right now. What advice would you give them?
Carrie: Know who your best friends are, people whoíll never betray you. Things might seem rough, but theyíll very soon get better. When youíre 22, like me, none of that will happen. And find someone older you can talk about stuff with, just one person you can tell anything to, who wonít blab your secrets. Any older sibling or just someone you know you can trust.
IML: Youíve gone from being a regular gal to a full-on celebrity really quickly. What advice would you give to a person who feels jealous of his or her friendís success?
Carrie: I think itís okay to feel jealous, but itís how you deal with it thatís the important thing. You have to be happy for your friends when they do well because you want them to do well. Itís not a competition. Just because something might look good for them right now doesnít mean that next year, next month, next week things might not happen for you too. And you want your friends to be happy for you when youíre doing well.
IML: How has your journalism degree helped you in the last year?
Carrie: It helps me when answering questions, especially on camera, because thatís what Iím used to. I know what the reporters are looking for and I also know when theyíre trying to make me say something bad. Theyíll ask me some hot button question, something to get myself in trouble!
IML: We hear youíve always been dedicated to volunteering. What kind of work have you done in the past?
Carrie: I did most of my volunteer work when I was in college because I knew of more ways to get involved. In high school, weíd do things like there was a homeless shelter near our hometown and our church group decorated one of the rooms. In college, I was in a sorority and we did a lot of things, like pick up trash on the highway. I was also a hospice volunteer and I got that through the sorority. You go and take care of people that are really sick. They donít want to be in the hospital anymore. Itís just kind of about making them comfortable. So, Iíd go and sit with them. I had one couple that I was a volunteer for and weíd just, you know, watch soap operas for a couple hours!
IML: Sometimes they just want company, right?
Carrie: Oh yeah. Well, my main job was just to give the family a break. Iíd come over and just hang out, and theyíd go grocery shopping and exercise. I do think itís important to get involved in some way. You can get a couple cans together that you know you wonít eat and give it to a food drive, or donate your clothes to a mission. There are a lot of little things you can do.
IML: When you were a kid, what kind of exercise did you do?
Carrie: Growing up, I played softball and I was a cheerleader. Mostly just being outside. If youíre outside, itís hard not to be running around.
IML: On American Idol, it seemed that dancing wasnít one of your favorite things.
Carrie: No, Iím really not a good dancer. I dance around the house when Iím alone, but not in public!
IML: Throughout your new album, there seems to be a theme of being homesick and feeling a little like outsider, in songs like Donít Forget to Remember Me, Jesus Take the Wheel, and I Ainít in Checotah Anymore. How do you deal with the craziness of the world youíre in now?
Carrie: Oh my goodness. I do miss home a lot, but I take a lot of it with me. I call home every day and talk to my sisters. I do get back as much as I can. And I always have with me two stuffed animals from home, a teddy bear and a stuffed lion!
IML: What is it like to be a vegetarian when you come from a farming community?
Carrie: I quit eating beef when I was about thirteen. I kind of phased everything out, so it took a few years actually. I do it because I really love animals and it just makes me sad. Like, I donít like to watch commercials where they have meat. It weirds me out. But itís not something I like to preach to anyone. I mean, my family, they all eat meat and I donít ever try to sway their opinions, but itís hard sometimes, especially because I live in the South and I did grow up in a farming community. Iíve had people approach my parents and theyíll say, ďI hear your daughter is a vegetarian. Whatís she doing? Thatís how we make a living.Ē My momís just, ďWell, thatís her decision.Ē She used to get mad though. Sheíd cook dinner and I wouldnít eat it.
IML: In your song, I Ainít In Checotah Anymore, you sing that youíd rather be tipping cows in Tulsa than hailing cabs in New York. Have you really tipped cows?
Carrie: Thatís a common misperception. Iím pretty sure cows canít be tipped. Itís what we tell the city folks!
IML: Thanks, Carrie. Itís been great talking with youÖand good luck!
Carrie: Thank you!
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