Carrie Underwood's the Storyteller Tour requires a lot of moving parts both onstage and off, but the basic premise of her current trek is a simple one: an "in-the-round" setting that provides each concertgoer with the best experience possible. Simpler still is the storytelling aspect of the show and country music's reliance on conveying memorable stories in song.
During the tour's recent stop in Pittsburgh, Underwood prefaced a song from one of country music's greatest living storytellers by telling the audience, "Whether the artists of my generation know it or not, we were being taught by these artists. And I feel like one name that comes up constantly, especially amongst females in country music, is the name Dolly."
After the crowd's roar of approval died down for Country Music Hall of Fame legend Dolly Parton, Underwood continued, "She has the career that we all strive to have. She does it all, she does it all well, and on top of that I think she's probably one of the nicest people I think I've ever met in this business. So, I'm going to try my best right now not to screw up one of her classic songs, and everybody and their dog knows this song, so you guys feel free to sing along with me."
Dog attendance was presumably low, but Underwood, who began the song a cappella, just as Whitney Houston had done in her Grammy-winning version — and stuck closer to Houston's version throughout — had the crowd singing along with her immediately. With simple acoustic guitar accompaniment backing her, Underwood took advantage of the in-the-round setup, turning ever so slowly throughout the song, filling the venue with her voice and wringing as much drama and emotion as she could muster out of the tune Parton wrote in 1973 as she split from duet partner Porter Wagoner for her solo career.
The Storyteller Tour stops in Washington, D.C., Thursday (February 25th) before Underwood travels to Europe for shows in Sweden, Norway, the U.K. and Ireland, then resumes in the U.S. with a St. Patrick's Day show in Youngstown, Ohio.