Carrie Underwood (Associated Press photo)
This is an extended version of the phone interview I conducted last week with Carrie Underwood from a tour stop in Virginia. The interview took place the day after the Oklahoma native unveiled her wax figure at Madame Toussauds in New York.
While she talked fondly of home and still somewhat bemusedly about her fame and fortune, she laughed at the antics of her rat terrier, Ace, who was “being very vocal” and barked several times during the interview.
Q: I understand that you had a wax figure unveiled yesterday?
A: Yeah, Madame Toussauds decided to add me to their collection of wax statues.
Q: How was the experience of getting that done, because didn’t you have to model for it?
A: It was mainly just a couple of people met us out on the road and like did a lot of measurements, a lot of picture taking. I had to stand still for a long time while they did their thing. (little laugh)
Q: Was that ever a dream of yours when you were getting into music that you would someday be in the wax museum?
A: Well, whenever like I was asked about it, I was kind of like ‘why?’ (laughing) I don’t know, I envision myself being one that people walk through and everybody being like ‘Who is this blond chick. Why is she here?’
Q: You’ve been touring a lot this year – since January or February – and going practically nonstop all year.
A: It’s been wild but it’s been good. And that’s why we keep coming back for more.
Q: How’s it been going on the tour?
A: It’s been great. You know, this has been my first year to attempt the headlining position, and at first I was really nervous, like to the point of almost making myself over it, just because you don’t want to be one of those people that it just doesn’t work, people don’t come, you have to like start canceling show dates. And I was envisioning the worse obviously. But it’s been great; people have been turning up and having a good time. I love it when venues are like oh, we’ve sold out. It’s good, good news keeps happening.
Q: Are you excited to be coming back to Oklahoma?
A: I am. I mean, hometown crowds are the best. They’re the ones that are most excited, especially Oklahoma because it played such a huge role in supporting me throughout “American Idol” and eventually putting me where I am now. So it’s great to go back and kind of pay homage and just have fun with my people.
Q: Have you made it back much this year. You’ve been really busy.
A: I have not. I went home I think once this year and hung out with my mom. My dad was off hunting somewhere so I’ve only seen him like once this year. So shame on me. I don’t know when I would’ve gone home; it’s not like a chose not to.
Q: Are you going to get to spend any time here or just in and out?
A: It’s pretty much in and out. I’ll get to hang out with some family and some friends just after the show. After that, we keep on truckin’.
Q: Are you excited about the new BOK Center because Checotah’s not too far from Tulsa. So you must have been aware of it?
A: Oh, yeah, definitely, Tulsa’s needed some big venue – some big, fun venue – for awhile, so it’s really exciting, I know I’m not the first but I’m definitely one of the new ones to come in and check it out.
Q: You’re latest hit song and video “Just a Dream” focuses on a woman who loses her fiance to war. That had to be pretty emotionally wrenching to work on.
A: Yeah, it was pretty depressing. (laughing) That whole crew that we did the video with, we’ve worked together quite a bit and they’re so much fun. And I had to have a talk with everybody at the beginning of the shoot, and it’s like ‘OK, I have to be really sad, and you guys can’t be fun because that’s not fair.’ I can’t go from like laughing to crying. And the director Roman White, he did such a great job, but I just know him being so goofy that even when he was trying to talk to me very seriously and be very somber, that was almost funnier than him actually being funny. But it was a bummer of a day pretty much. (laughing)
Q: Have you gotten feedback from the song, people thanking you for it or talking about how it captured the experience?
A: Oh, definitely. We get e-mail sent to various people that I work with and they always get passed on to me, just about people who can relate to the song. Or I’ve actually got like dedication requests for me to dedicate the song to somebody, a family that’s in the audience that’s lost somebody. Those are always really tough. That’s when you really start thinking about everything, while you’re singing this song it’s kind of like this is reality for some people. For me, it’s just I’m telling a story, but for these people they’ve lived it.
Q: Tell me about singing with Elvis on the new CD “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets.” You sing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with the King.
A: It was very surreal. It’s one of those things that somebody asks you to do something like that, it’s like ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’ And then when you actually get into the studio and you hear Elvis Presley’s voice and you’re harmonizing with it and you’re singing along with it, it’s just very surreal. And we recorded that song in the studio he used to record at quite frequently; that even made it more nostalgic. It was a very good experience and it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.
Q: Were you pleased that they asked and pleased with how it turned out?
A: Oh, definitely it and I think everybody that’s on that album they’re top-notch people. They’re people that are very, very talented. It was just a really great project to be a part of; it’s one of those things that I can let my kids listen to and just be very, very proud of it.
Q: You’ve had a busy year packed into highlights. But was being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by one of your musical idols just the highlight of the year?
A: That’s the highlight of my life. It’s just one of those things that the Grand Ole Opry is synonymous with country music. No other genre of music has anything like it, and they want you to be part of a family and they want you to just enjoy it and be proud of it. I love playing at the Opry and to be asked by Randy Travis, whom I’ve always loved so much, and then be inducted by Garth Brooks, fellow Oklahoman, that whole process was just magical.
Q: Anything in particular people can expect from the Tulsa show?
A: I don’t want to give away any surprises or anything. I hope people can just expect people to have a good time. I want people to come along and sing along and dance along and just have a great time. And hopefully they can expect me and my band and crew to be on the top of our game. And you can definitely expect to see us having fun with it.
Q: Is it a pretty high-energy show?
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I’m also a big ballad singer, so it’s not all big and loud and fast all the time.
Q: Anything else you wanted to add?
A: I’m just looking forward to coming home. It’s been too long.