Carrie was born about an hour from Tulsa in Muskogee, an Oklahoma city closely associated with country music lore, and raised in the rural town of Checotah. She's among the great superstars to hail from the home state of Wanda Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks and dozens of other pop culture staples.
The future "Before He Cheats" singer first performed in public at a young age by participating in talent shows.
"I knew the person that was the head of the Chamber of Commerce that put it on, and I called and said, 'Can Carrie sing? Will you let Carrie sing on this one?'," Carole recalls. "And you know, she hated it because her friends were going to be out there. She didn't like to sing in front of her friends. Sometimes she might be crying to get up there and sing, but she did (sing)."
As that embarrassment gave way to dreams of becoming a country star, Carrie continued performing in costumes sewn by her mother.
"I look back at it fondly and think, 'I did a pretty good job there, didn't I?'," Carole told NBC's Today.
After high school, Carrie studied mass communications at Northeastern State University. Because of her daughter's education background, Carole saw American Idol as a means to land a TV news job in Tulsa, not a fast track to Nashville stardom.
Instead, Carrie won the fourth season of American Idol and landed a much steadier gig than anything you'll find in a journalism-related field. Her debut album Some Hearts (2005) and the single "Jesus, Take the Wheel" made her an instant country superstar. By 2008, she was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Carole lists "Just a Dream," "Temporary Home" and "Something in the Water" as three of her daughter's greatest hits and cites something more spiritually uplifting as her favorite live moment.
"When she sang 'How Great Thou Art' with Vince Gill doing an accompaniment, and the whole place... I mean, you could just feel the power there," Carole says.
"Her voice is just kind of geared for that, you know," Carole says of her daughter's renditions of childhood favorites. "That's like on the Christmas album. There were so many beautiful songs on there. The first time I heard that one, I cried all the way through it."
Underwood now has a family of her own with husband Mike Fisher and their two sons, Isaiah and Jacob. Isaiah shares billing with John Legend as special guests on My Gift.
New album My Savior features guest appearances by CeCe Winans and Needtobreathe's Bear Rhinehart.