“A Conversation with Carrie Underwood, ” excerpted from Women’s Health magazine.
With her wavy blond hair, button nose, and pearly smile, Carrie Underwood, 24, looks like she just stepped off the cover of a 1980s Sweet Valley High paperback. Raised on a farm in tiny Checotah, Oklahoma, she went to Northeastern State University, where she studied journalism and became a sorority girl. Given her All-American background, the last thing you'd expect this Southern sweetheart to be is surprising. Which is exactly why it was so fun to see her belt out a cheesy rock ballad during the fourth season of Idol and strut out on stage at the 2006 American Music Awards wearing what looked like a shredded prom dress with a pair of shorts. But the most striking thing about Underwood has to be those killer pipes. Unlike so many insta-starlets, she ponies up the kind of singing talent that fuels lifelong careers: Her first album, Some Hearts, has sold more than 6 million copies and garnered her the Best New Artist award at the 2007 Grammys--and her second, Carnival Ride, debuted at No.1 on the Billboard pop charts.
Your parents raise cattle, yet you're a vegetarian. How did that happen?
There was a traumatic incident that made me stop eating beef. My parents were banding cattle [a nasty form of castration]. When I asked why, I was told that it makes them bigger. And it hit me that these cute little animals that were running around playing would become someone's dinner. Eating them made me feel guilty.
Has anyone else in your family decided to follow your example?
No. Just me. It makes for an interesting Thanksgiving. At first it was really difficult. My mom would get so mad at me. But now, she's accepted it. Everything she used to make with cream of chicken soup, she now makes with cream of mushroom soup.
Are you someone who has to watch what you eat in order to stay thin?
Definitely. The older I get, the harder it is to splurge without consequences. I love food. Chocolate and cheese and anything that's bad for me. I'll be really good when I'm at home so I can eat what I want to when I'm out with friends.
What's your solution when it all feels like too much?
Honestly, it's my dog. He's a great stress reliever. He's my kid that I get to take care of and put my energy into. I do exercise. I'll use whatever's in the hotel fitness room: the elliptical machine, maybe lift some weights. Then I'll take Ace for a walk. And it's important for me to know when enough is enough. I do get tired, and that can affect my whole sense of well-being.
I hear you have a weakness for '80s hair metal.
I do. I saw Quiet Riot and Slaughter in Nashville. My two older sisters turned me on to all that stuff. I remember singing Mötley Crüe's remake of "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" in front of the mirror. That was the age of the real "rock star." I would like to have experienced that first-hand.
What's your favorite song to do karaoke to?
Anything by Guns N' Roses. But I don't do karaoke much--it's just another way to embarrass myself.