This year's Country Radio Seminar (CRS), held Feb. 19-21 at Nashville's Omni Hotel, finished strong on Friday when country music superstar Carrie Underwood opened up about fame, family, fitness and faith during "Find Your Path," a Q&A session moderated by Beverlee Brannigan and CRB/CRS executive director RJ Curtis.
The artist interview shared its name with Underwood's new book Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life. Like the CRS event, the book blends Underwood's tales of music, marriage and parenthood with advice on seeing goals through. It hits bookshelves on March 3.
Read on for five highlights from one of CRS 2020's standout sessions.
She Saw Herself as a Longshot to Win American Idol
Stories about Underwood's American Idol experience have been bandied about since 2005, but it's still fascinating to hear about a time when she wasn't a household name. Back then, Underwood couldn't fathom her short-term journey to country stardom, much less her ongoing 15 year run of success.
"I'm from the tiniest town in the world," she said. "I'd never been on a plane before. I like to sing, but a lot of people like to sing. I want to be a famous country music singer, but a lot of people do. I think what I honestly thought would happen is I'd go there, the door would shut and I'd move on with the rest of my life."
Underwood Loves Hard Rock, Metal and Punk
When she's not holding Linda Ronstadt's name on high, Underwood devotes many of her listening hours to being "a big hard rock girl." Before the interview, Underwood jammed the new Ozzy Osbourne album. As a teen, her live music experiences included Hole, Green Day and Slipknot.
Songwriting Trends Hurt Female Artists
Underwood cares deeply about the lack of women on the country charts and the airwaves, which is partly why Runaway June and Maddie & Tae were part of her recent Cry Pretty 360 Tour. When that topic inevitably came up, Underwood made a frustrating observation: Songwriters still have to make a living in a flawed system.
"It's hard for me to find demos. It's hard for me to find songs," Underwood said. "Because songwriters aren't writing for women. Why would they? I mean, that's their job. That's what they're going to do every day. They've gotta pay their mortgage. Put their kids through college. They're giving the consumers what they want, which is dude songs."
"I don't know how it started. Or how to fix it. If nobody's writing us songs, then it's hard to find great songs," she continued. "I feel like being aware is step one, and I feel like everybody is. But it takes more people stepping up and doing what's right."
She Has a Mobile Gym as Part of Her Tour Convoy
Underwood's strict workout routine continues on the road, thanks to a tip from a fellow fitness buff.
"I have this workout trailer that was inspired by Tim McGraw because he had one and I said, 'I want one!'," she said. "It has lots of basic pieces of equipment in it like a treadmill and stuff like that."
Of course, the average fan cannot afford a traveling workout room, but fans of Underwood, McGraw, Kenny Chesney and others known in part for looking fit should admire the dedication of someone who'd want to bring a downsized gym on tour.
'Cry Pretty' Has Gone Platinum
Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty goes platinum! pic.twitter.com/Cc8PSVjtcl
— Bobby Moore (@heibergercgr) February 22, 2020
There was plenty more covered in the hour-long session, from stories about husband Mike Fisher and the kids to Underwood acknowledging that embarrassing diaries from her American Idol days exist (and are to be burnt by her mother if anything tragic happens). Yet the sweetest moment of the entire week, much less the Q&A, came when Capitol Nashville and UMG Nashville representatives surprised Underwood with a RIAA platinum certification plaque for the 2018 album Cry Pretty.
"This means a lot because I feel like this is the project that I've done and the album that I've done that's the most me," Underwood said while fighting back tears. "You guys were there supporting me the whole way. You didn't laugh at me when I said I wanted to produce and were equally excited about these songs."