By Elisha Hammond
Grammy award winner Carrie Underwood unafraid to sing ‘risky’ songs
Country music star Carrie Underwood has sold 58 million albums globally, made 21 number-one hits, and won seven Grammy awards, and it was all because she proclaimed what she believes in from the very beginning
Carrie found her claim to fame after winning American Idol in 2005 but many doubted she would go far after producing an overtly Christian song as her second single.
"After I released Jesus Take the Wheel, people started saying, 'Oh, it's kind of risky. You're coming out with a religious song'," Carrie explained to Esquire magazine.
"And I was thinking, 'Really?' I grew up in Oklahoma, I always had a close relationship with God. I never thought it was risky in the least. If anything, I thought it was the safest thing I could do."
It turned out the critics were wrong.
The single spent six weeks at the top of Billboard's hot country songs, won two Grammys and best single at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
The lyrics tell the story of a young woman on her way to visit her parents with her infant in the backseat. When the car slips on some ice and begins to skid the woman says: "Jesus, take the wheel". Miraculously, the car safely comes to a halt, and the pair are left unscathed.
“I’m not the first person to sing about God, Jesus, faith [or] any of that, and I won’t be the last”In an interview for Entertainment Weekly in 2012 Carrie explains she hopes the song will be remembered as "something that somebody can hear [that] would make them feel better or help them through an important time in their life".
Having been raised in a Christian home and choosing to put her trust in Jesus from an early age, Carrie used her God-given talent to sing at church from age three, and perform at country talent shows in her hometown of Checotah, Nashville.
Now on the world stage, Carrie is passionate about telling stories through her songs to reveal how a personal relationship with Jesus brings strength to get through hard times.
Another chart topper, Something in the Water, describes the act of baptism and how faith can change your life.
"I was all out of hoping, all out of fight, couldn't fight back my tears so I fell on my knees, saying God if you're there come and rescue me, felt love pouring down from above, got washed in the water," Carrie shares in the lyrics of the song.
"It's really kind of a joyous uplifting song about changing your life for the better, kind of having that 'ah-ha' moment, to waking up and your life being different from that moment forward," Carrie later told ABC Radio.
To the criticism she received for the song, Carrie made this bold statement: "I'm not the first person to sing about God, Jesus, faith [or] any of that, and I won't be the last. And it won't be the last for me, either."
Temporary Home is another track worth listening to, encouraging people to see that hardships that they may face in life, whether foster care, unemployment or having a loved one pass away, are temporary struggles in this life.
She bases this understanding around God's promise, for those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour: heaven awaits and is a place where there will be no more suffering.
Along with a successful music career, Carrie perceives her marriage to professional hockey player Mike Fisher as yet another blessing from God and describes their faith in Jesus is the bond that keeps their marriage together.
"Every Wednesday, my husband and I have a (Bible) study group with our friends," she told Gospel Light Society.
Another recent and surprising gift from God was the birth of the couple's baby boy, Isaiah, in February 2015.
Her newfound joy inspired Carrie to write the song What I Never Knew I Always Wanted and once again topped the charts.
Feeling the need to give back to her community and God with what she has been blessed with, she started the Checotah Animal, Town and School Foundation in 2009.
Carrie often gives away a portion of the profits from her tours, albums and merchandise sales to volunteer organisations to fund special projects and events.
"I've always loved volunteering," Carrie says, "I love making music and all that, but at the end of the day I don't think that's what people are going to remember about a person." •