Posting a photo of Michael, who died at age 53 on December 25th, on Instagram, Underwood wrote how she never told him personally how greatly he inspired her singing because “I thought I’d freak him out.”
“As a child, his was the first voice I could pick out of the sea of voices I heard on the radio. Before I knew anything about him, I knew his voice. As an adult, I cried when I saw him in concert. His songs and his voice helped to teach me how to sing. I will forever regret not letting him know,” Underwood wrote. “Thank you, George, for giving the world your gifts.”
In 2008, the American Idol winner returned to the show for its Idol Gives Back charity special, choosing to sing Michael’s last Number One in the U.S., “Praying for Time.” (Watch the performance below.) The 1990 single, written by Michael, first appeared on the singer’s Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 album, and he performed it on American Idol in 2008 as well, making an appearance on the show’s seventh-season finale.
”No event inspired the song, just life in general,” Michael said of “Praying for Time” in a 1990 interview with The New York Times. ”It’s my way of trying to figure out why it’s so hard for people to be good to each other. I believe the problem is conditional as opposed to being something inherent in mankind … It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion.”