Carrie Underwood Talks a Decade of Idol-Worthy, Hitmaking Success

Credit: CJ Hicks

"So much has happened since American Idol." Such is the declaration -- or, understatement of the year -- from Carrie Underwood, who won the show's fourth season and reigns supreme as the top-earning Idol of all time. "That was 10 years ago and it still blows my mind." 

The 31-year-old superstar has gone on to notch a staggering amount of awards and accolades since then; as well as amassed more than enough material for her latest project, a greatest hits volume that -- even in the superlative realm of greatest hits collections -- is all killer, no filler. However, "I have no doubt that If I hadn’t tried out for that show, if things hadn’t gone that way, there’s no way I’d be sitting here right now ... able to have a greatest hits album."

Speaking of that, Underwood is candid that the differences between the making of very first album and the one she's poised to release now are simple. "Basically time and confidence," she notes. "Now I have a lot more confidence in my self as an artist and a songwriter, and now we just have a lot more time to make sure everything is perfect and just the way I want it.

Underwood had no qualms about loading the album with everything: "I wanted all the hits on there," but admitted that trying to come up with bonus extras was more difficult, with endless "sifting through work tapes" the most strenuous part of the job. 

When Underwood says something is a lot of work, it has to be believed. The petite country queen has no fear of putting her nose to the grindstone, having taken on a full plate of projects -- including a stab at musical theater, replacing Faith Hill as the voice of Sunday Night Football, and year after year of hosting the Country Music Association Awards with fellow country jokester Brad Paisley (a gig she says, simply, is "just fun"). 

Oh, yeah, and parenthood. Well, impending parenthood, anyway. Underwood's been keeping up her packed schedule even after announcing her pregnancy via social media on Labor Day this year. Two months later, her CMAs co-host blundered out to the world that Underwood and husband Mike Fisher were expecting ... a bouncing baby boy!

Lest some think the hysterical moment was staged: "Brad didn’t know I was having a boy until right before the show," Underwood attests. "That was something that my husband and I were trying to keep quiet as long as possible...I was like, well, I don’t want to make a thing out of it.

That said, the singer knew she would probably let the secret slide in upcoming interviews. Soooo...“I’m going to ruin it; so Brad, you might as well ruin it," she laughs. 

On a more serious note, Underwood realizes her responsibilities as one of the top female vocalists in Nashville today. "I feel like there’s been a lot of talk lately about women in country music," she says. "But I honestly think it’s a struggle that we’ve been faced with for a long time, for decades. Males have always outnumbered the females.

"I constantly get asked, 'Why do you think that is?' I have no idea. It’s certainly not for lack of talent." Truer words were never spoken.