Carrie Underwood almost backed out of 'American Idol': 'It was just too much'

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 11: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Country artist Carrie Underwood attends the 54th annual CMA Awards at the Music City Center on November 11, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMA)
Carrie Underwood almost didn't get on flight to do American Idol. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMA)

Carrie Underwood has been one of the biggest stars in the world since winning American Idol in 2005 — but she almost didn’t get on the flight that launched her career. The singer wrote an essay for Guideposts magazine in which she revealed how fear almost got in the way of her dream.

Underwood grew up singing in church at a young age, but studied communications and broadcast journalism in college in Oklahoma. “If I were really lucky, maybe I’d end up on TV,” she wrote.

“The summer before my senior year, I was home one day, watching TV… and saw a news segment about people auditioning for the show American Idol. I checked online. The closest auditions were being held in St. Louis,” the “Cry Pretty” singer wrote.

Underwood thought it was “out of the question” her mom would take her on the seven-hour drive, but she asked anyways.

“It would be easy to say the rest is history, that it was meant to be. But it didn’t feel like that at the time,” she recalled. “Going through a slew of auditions in St. Louis, getting the ‘golden ticket’ to Hollywood, every contestant’s dream, I was terrified. Every time I had to sing in front of the judges, I’d get nervous the way I did in church that first time. Then I’d say a prayer and leave it in God’s hands.”

When it was time to go to the airport to head to California, Underwood got nervous.

“I was so distracted that when Mom and Dad were driving me to the airport to go to Hollywood, I realized I’d forgotten lip liner. We stopped at a grocery store, and Mom dashed inside to buy some. All at once, it was just too much. Going out to Los Angeles by myself, competing with all those other people who were so talented. I burst into tears,” she explained. “My dad turned to me in the backseat. ‘Carrie,’ he said, ‘we can go home right now, and we don’t ever have to talk about it again.’”

Underwood “took a deep breath” and told her parents, “I’ll go.”

“In L.A., Ryan Seacrest interviewed me and asked if I’d seen any stars. ‘No, it’s been too cloudy,’ I said, not getting that he meant famous actors and singers. That naivete, that innocence, is something I’ve come to be grateful for,” she noted.

Those grounded values are what Underwood hopes to instill in the two sons — Isaiah, 5, and Jacob, 22 months — she shares with husband Mike Fisher.

“I might be one of those stars myself these days, but Mike and I do all we can to raise our two boys with values like the ones I grew up with in Checotah,” the singer explained. “Down-to-earth, church on Sundays, plenty of grass and trees and space outside for them to roam. At night, when we put the boys to bed, we pray out loud with them. Just talking to God, letting them know he hears their every word.”

Underwood just released her first Christmas album My Gift, which features Isaiah on “Little Drummer Boy.”

“First, I want to throw out — I had no idea how it was going to work out,” Underwood recently told Yahoo Entertainment of the duet. “My son loves to sing. He wants to watch musical movies and learns all the songs. And he has my lyrical brain.”

“He did such a great job,” the proud mom added. “He put his little heart into it. He was throwing his arms in the air. He was just feeling every word that he was singing, which was very special for me to watch.”

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