To show her appreciation for the Eagle Honor Choir from Old Hickory, Tennessee's Andrew Jackson Elementary School and its viral video performance of "The Champion," country music superstar Carrie Underwood paid a surprise visit as the youngsters practiced for its June 2019 CMA Fest appearance in front of 50,000 fans at Nashville's Nissan Stadium.
"I originally saw this incredible group on Facebook doing my song 'The Champion,'" Underwood says in a behind-the-scenes video from the CMA Foundation. "You could see how much love and thought and hard work was put into this."
The elementary school choir created its music video with help from Director Franklin Willis, a three-time CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence. The creativity and talent on display caught the attention of the CMA Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports music education in public schools.
During her surprise appearance, Underwood met and encouraged a shocked and excited group of third and fourth graders.
"You guys are going to be so amazing," Underwood told the students. "That crowd is not going to know what hit 'em."
"The Champion," Underwood's Top 50 crossover hit from 2018, features Atlanta-based hip-hop star Ludacris. It debuted in time for Bowl LII and appears on Underwood's 2018 album Cry Pretty. Underwood co-wrote the song with Ludacris (a.k.a. Christopher Bridges) , Chris DeStefano and Brett James. The pop-friendly single charted higher among the cross-genre Billboard Top 100 (47th) than the US Country Airplay chart (57th).
"You look at my audience, you see tons of little girls," Underwood told Pollstar. "Why wouldn't they want to see other super-talented young women?"
Underwood shared the 2020 ACM Entertainer of the Year award with Thomas Rhett. She's in the running for the CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year alongside Luke Combs, Keith Urban, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert. The 2020 CMA (Country Music Association) Awards air on Wed., Nov. 11 on ABC.
This story originally ran on Aug. 7, 2019.