Carrie Underwood Almost Didn't Fly to Los Angeles for American Idol: 'I Was Terrified'

Carrie Underwood's life was forever changed when she won American Idol in 2005 — but her time on the show almost didn't happen.

In a piece she wrote for Guideposts magazine's December-January 2021 issue, the star, 37, opened up about the fears that nearly cut her journey on the competition series short.

"The summer before my senior year [at Northeastern State University], I was home one day, watching TV … and saw a news segment about people auditioning for the show American Idol," Underwood wrote. "I checked online. The closest auditions were being held in St. Louis."

Underwood figured the six or seven-hour drive from her Checotah, Oklahoma, hometown to St. Louis would be "out of the question," but her mom offered to drive her anyway.

"It would be easy to say the rest is history, that it was meant to be," she wrote. "But it didn't feel like that at the time. Going through a slew of auditions in St. Louis, getting the 'golden ticket' to Hollywood, every contestant's dream, I was terrified."

As her parents drove her to the airport to catch her flight to Los Angeles, where she'd compete on the show, her emotions boiled over.

"I realized I'd forgotten lip liner," she wrote. "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."

"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,'" she continued. "I took a deep breath. 'No,' I said at last. 'I’ll go.'"

While in L.A., Underwood was asked by Idol host Ryan Seacrest if she had seen any stars. Not realizing that he meant celebrities, she responded, "No, it’s been too cloudy."

"That naïveté, that innocence, is something I’ve come to be grateful for," Underwood wrote. "Growing up on a farm with loving parents and our church family defined my values. A small town with good people helped form me. I was rooted in something solid before I got to spread my wings."

Though she might be a star herself now, Underwood wrote that she and her husband Mike Fisher do everything they can to raise their two sons — Isaiah, 5, and Jacob, 22 months — with values like the ones she grew up with in Oklahoma.

"Down-to-earth, church on Sundays, plenty of grass and trees and space outside for them to roam," she wrote. "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."

When her son Isaiah was only a todder, Underwood wrote that she'd sing, "Jesus loves me, this I know," to him in his car seat.

"He'd sing right back, 'Yes, Jesus loves me,'" she wrote. "Almost before he could talk, he was singing."

Isaiah puts those singing chops on display on Underwood's new Christmas album, My Gift, out now.

"Earlier this year, when I was putting together a collection of Christmas songs, I asked Isaiah if he wanted to sing on the album too," Underwood wrote. "It had to be his idea. Not something I told him to do. 'Okay, Mommy,' he said. We practiced together at home. He can’t read all that well yet, so we went over 'Little Drummer Boy' line by line, word by word."

On the morning they were supposed to go to the recording studio to record "Little Drummer Boy" together, Isaiah got himself dressed.

"He came down the stairs in his jeans that he wears to church, a button-down shirt and a little black fedora," Underwood recalled. "At the studio, he sounded like a pro, singing into the mic, headphones on, 'I’ll play my best for him, pa rum pum-pum-pum, rum pum-pum-pum.'"

"Isaiah put it well that morning when we headed off to the studio," she continued. "I took in his outfit, topped with the little black fedora. 'Wow, you really dressed up this morning, buddy,' I said. 'I’m gonna go sing for Jesus,' he replied, 'so I wanted to look nice.'"

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