Carrie Underwood Revealed The Reason She Almost Chickened Out on Doing ‘American Idol’

Country music star Carrie Underwood rose to fame on American Idol like so many other beloved singers. She won the Idol crown back in 2005 and has since released hits such as “Before He Cheats” and “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

Going on Idol was the culmination of years of hard work to become a professional singer, but that doesn’t mean that Underwood was on board with the process from the beginning.

Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Carrie Underwood wanted to be a singer from a young age

Underwood’s road to becoming successful didn’t start with American Idol. The Oklahoma-born singer actually went to Nashville at age 14 to audition for Capitol Records, and the company even drew up a contract for Underwood in 1996.

The deal fell through, however. Underwood spent her high school years in extracurricular activities such as cheerleading and basketball. After graduating at the top of her class, Underwood had pretty much given up on her dreams of becoming a singer and wanted to prepare for life in the “real world.”

Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood | Matt Winkelmeyer/ACMA2017/Getty Images for ACM

Carrie Underwood rose to fame on ‘American Idol’

In 2004, Underwood auditioned for American Idol. Even though it seems like it was all her plan, Underwood revealed in a recent op-ed for Guideposts magazine that she struggled behind the scenes with her confidence.

“It would be easy to say the rest is history, that it was meant to be. But it didn’t feel like that at the time,” Underwood said. “Going through a slew of auditions in St. Louis, getting the ‘golden ticket’ to Hollywood, every contestant’s dream, I was terrified. Every time I had to sing in front of the judges, I’d get nervous the way I did in church that first time. Then I’d say a prayer and leave it in God’s hands.”

Carrie Underwood in Season 4 of 'American Idol'
Carrie Underwood in Season 4 of ‘American Idol’ | Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

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Carrie Underwood almost backed out of ‘American Idol’

After Underwood got to the Hollywood round of the competition, she started to get cold feet and wondered if she was making the right decision.

“I was so distracted that when Mom and Dad were driving me to the airport to go to Hollywood, I realized I’d forgotten lip liner. We stopped at a grocery store, and Mom dashed inside to buy some,” she recalled. “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.”

In that moment, Underwood said, her father gave her the strength that she needed to go through with it. 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.’”

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

She recalled when Ryan Seacrest asked her in LA if she’d seen any stars, to which she plainly said, “No, it’s been too cloudy,” not understanding that he meant famous celebrities.

Even though she laughs about it now, Underwood remains thankful for that period of her life, and for making the decision to go to the airport. “That naïveté, that innocence, is something I’ve come to be grateful for.”