Even Carrie Underwood, one of the most awarded and beloved Nashville stars in recent memory, was once a big dreamer with her sites set on Hollywood. In her case, it really did start with a song-- Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," to be specific, earned her golden ticket to Hollywood.
The 21-year-old Checotah, Oklahoma resident handled ornery judge Simon Cowell better than most during the American Idol audition that cleared an unknown contestant's path to becoming a country music superstar.
"I just think she's beautiful, and I think she's got the voice, so I hope she's going on," said Underwood's mother, Carole, during the broadcast. "But I don't know. I have faith in her."
Underwood ultimately edged out Bo Bice and became the fourth-ever American Idol winner in 2005, following in the footsteps of fellow country music lover Kelly Clarkson. In the process, we gathered that Underwood's go-to '90s country jam was Martina McBride's "Independence Day."
Early in her run on the singing competition, we learned that Underwood's trip to Hollywood was her first time riding in an airplane. Even the trek from Oklahoma to her audition in St. Louis, Missouri was quite the ambitious trip for someone who's since toured the world.
All of these years after Underwood's first audition, Ryan Seacrest is the only constant from American Idol's first season. The former Fox series now airs on ABC, and Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul's seats are now filled by Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.
Nowadays, only a handful of artists, much less fellow American Idol winners, can match Underwood's accolades as a singer-songwriter and storyteller, from her Billboard chart hits to a lengthy list of ACM, CMA, CMT and Grammy awards.
This story previously ran on Sept. 16, 2020.