’American Idol’ alumni: Carrie Underwood

Since edging out southern rocker Bo Bice to win the 2005 season, Carrie Underwood, 27, has achieved the most commercial success of any contestant. She has sold more than 11 million albums in the United States, more than any other Idol contestant in domestic sales and ahead of first-season champion Kelly Clarkson.

One of her most familiar songs to Christian music and pop music listeners is “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” which came off her ’06 debut album “Some Hearts.” The single received wide airplay on country and Christian radio and vaulted her to superstar status in country music circles.

“Jesus, Take the Wheel” was the No. 1 country song for six weeks in late 2005 and early 2006. It won Record of the Year at the 2006 Country Music Awards and won a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association. The Dove Awards are widely recognized as the most prestigious honors in Christian music.

“Some Hearts” produced four other Country No.1s and netted her several additional awards in 2006 and 2007, including two Grammys.

Her current release, “Play On,” has continued her commercial success. Underwood’s first single off the album, “Cowboy Casanova” peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s country charts. Her current release off the album, “Temporary Home,” just reached No.1 this week and is her 13th top-rated single. She has been nominated for six Academy of Country Music Awards at the April ceremony, including Entertainer of the Year. If she wins Top Female Vocalist, it will be the fourth consecutive year she has won in that particular category.

Underwood references her faith through her music and has a background in church performances from her youth in Checotah, Okla. She performed frequently as a teenager and in college at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma before auditioning for “American Idol.”

Underwood has performed for U.S. troops in Iraq with the USO in addition to touring in support of her albums. She has been a vegetarian since she was 13 and is a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

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