Friday, January 20, 2006; 1:30 PM
It's "American Idol" season and more people than ever are watching it. About 35.5 million people caught the show's debut this week to make it the largest entertainment programming audience in Fox's history.
Carrie Underwood , last year's winner and current "Cosmo Girl" and "Allure" magazine covergirl, was online Friday, Jan. 20, at 1:30 p.m. ET to weigh in on the tryout competition so far this season and to discuss her own already hit-making career ("Jesus Takes the Wheel," "Some Hearts") her new album, her upcoming tour and a million other things.
A transcript follows.
washingtonpost.com: Please stand by. Carrie Underwood will be with us shortly.
Montgomery, N.Y.: Congatulations on a wonderful album and all your #1's. Now that Jesus Take the Wheel is at #1 on all the charts, its time to start thinking about the next single and video. Has it been decided yet, and if so, what is it?
Carrie Underwood: It's been decided but we're trying to keep Jesus Take the Wheel at #1 for a while longer. So we're not that focused on the next single.
Maryland: Carrie,Have you felt pressure from the music and TV industry to change who you are to conform to their idea of what a star should be?
Carrie Underwood: I made it quite clear in the beginning who I am and everybody knows how important it is to stay that way, so nobody has ever tried to get me to change.
Chantilly, Va.: Do you keep up with any of the other contestants from your show?
Carrie Underwood: I do talk to Anthony, Lindsey and Constantine occasionally -- the two of us will e-mail each other. They're all doing well and they're good people.
Birmingham, Ala.: Hi Carrie,
So proud of you for winning -- you are the best yet and I love every song on your new CD -- suggestion, if you can get the permission to, please record Rascal Flatts "Bless the Broken Road" on your next album -- you did it better than the original during the competition
Carrie Underwood: I was doing that song and you never know what I'll be doing with Rascal Flats, you never know, maybe someday we'll record it.
Savannah, Ga.: They say the youngest child gets away with the most and are hardly ever spanked or disciplined. I believe you're a youngest child, correct? Did you get away with a lot?
Carrie Underwood: I think I got away with a lot but I was spanked a lot too.
San Francisco, Calif.: Hey, Carrie! Congratulations on your phenomenal success! My question: What is your favorite novel or movie? Thank you. Take care of yourself and God bless your benevolent heart.
Carrie Underwood: I remember reading books like Where the Red Fern grows when I was little, so I would say classics like that are my favorite.
I love scary movies. I don't really have a favorite; I just love them.
Washington, D.C.: Are all those scandals, gossip and quarrels on American Idol just pure hype, manufactured for publicity purposes?
Carrie Underwood: I imagine a lot of them are real but things can be creatively edited to make things look a little worse than they really are. Things can be exaggerated.
Odessa, Texas: Do you plan to play gutiar on your next recording or your stage show?
Carrie Underwood: I think it's in the plans for me to play when I'm on tour. I'm not good enough to play on the album though.
Philadelphia, Pa.: Dear Carrie,
Congratulations! You're doing so good. We're all pround of you!
ITV in United Kingdom is now airing the AI4, and I'm so excited. Does this mean that Some Hearts will be released in UK soon? Do you have plan to promote your album in Europe & UK?
Carrie, good luck for everything. I'm looking forward to seeing you perform National Anthem this Sunday!
Carrie Underwood: Right now we're focusing on America but plans are being made someday to release the album in other countries.
Carrie Underwood: I'm singing the National Anthem at the NFC game this Saturday between the Sea Hawks and the Panthers.
DuBois, Pa.: You grew up in the country. Were you a country girl dreaming of hitting it big some day? What made you decide to try singing, and did you ever imagine you would go so far?
Carrie Underwood: I've always loved singing. It was always just something that I liked to do. I always wanted to sing but I never thought of making it big. The doors just opened up in the right way.
Bowie, Md.: As a country girl, you came across as pure and wholesome which connected with a lot of viewers. Now that you're in Hollywood, how are you resisting some of the temptations that have hurt other young stars such as Lindsay Lohan, the Olsen twins, etc., as you become more of a city girl?
Carrie Underwood: I live in Nashville so I don't consider myself a city girl and things like that just aren't my style.
New York: Carrie -- are you planning to open for a big name act this spring? You mentioned in an interview once that you wanted to open for someone to get experience, etc., before going solo on tour. Just curious what your tour plans are at this time. Congrats on your album -- it is amazing!
Carrie Underwood: Thank you. I'll be doing several solo dates this summer but I will also be appearing with someone else. It just hasn't been decided yet.
Sterling, Va.: Hi Carrie. How has life changed for you since winning American Idol? Now that you've released your first major album, what things do you plan to do in order to develop professionally as a serious musical artist and ensure a lengthty career in the music business?
Carrie Underwood: I think it's important to be smart about everything. I haven't spent my money like crazy. I've taken other people's advice who are in the music business because I'm new.
Pittsburgh, Pa.: What's up Carrie?
First of all, congratulations on everything you've accomplished thus far! You're amazing.
Question: You have so many fans from numerous genres of music. How does it feel to touch the hearts and minds of so many people, and at the same time, spark an interest in country music? Personally, I have grown to really enjoy country music, all thanks to you.
Thanks so much for your time, and I look forward to seeing you on March 10th in Atlantic City!
Carrie Underwood: I think it's wonderful that me being on American Idol has sparked people's interest in country music because it's a wonderful genre.
Nova Scotia, Canada: We've been hearing that "Don't Forget To Remember Me" will be the 2nd single. Is that true?
Carrie Underwood: I think that's the one we're leaning most toward.
Tysons Corner, Va.: Congratulations on your tremendous success.
Music critics often aren't kind to pop hitmakers, but I have to say that Ken Tucker's review of your album on NPR's "Fresh Air" was particularly nasty. He said "Jesus Take the Wheel" was all about mammon, not God. That sort of thing epitomizes, I think, why most people find NPR elitist and snobbish.
Which leads to my question. Are you a Christian, or otherwise religious? Can you share your denomination or affiliation?
Carrie Underwood: I am a Christian but I think so many people can relate to Jesus Take the Wheel because even if they're not Christian I'm sure there's been some point in their lives when they've needed help from something or someone, which is why the song is doing so well.
Greenbelt, Md.: Congratulatios Carrie. Wish you all the best in your endeavors.One question..do you have it in mind that someday you;ll get married and have kids?
Carrie Underwood: That's every litle girl's dream, although it's not in my immediate future. Someday that is something I'd like to do.
Buena Park, Calif.: Hi Carrie!
Do you read your fan mail that is sent to Checotah, Oklahoma? You must have a ton of them ....What do you do with all of them? Thanks!
Carrie Underwood: My mother is the primary reader because I'm not ever home. But she reads every one and usually relays many of them to me. She usually responds to the letters.
Washington, D.C.: You have great teeth. How do you keep them so white?
Carrie Underwood: (LAUGHS) I brush my teeth a whole lot, probably like around five times a day just because I don't like my mouth to feel gross. So I brush my teeth a lot.
Birimingham, Ala.: How has your hometown of Checotah faired during all the wildfires?
Carrie Underwood: It's pretty bad around my area but there's really nothing they can do about it.
Baltimore, Md.: I understand that your family is very important to you. Are they able to travel with you or do you have to travel alone?
Carrie Underwood: I travel alone. I talk to them a lot on the phone but they can't leave home.
Wenoville, Okla. : Carrie, you totally rawk. Do you still stay in touch with your college friends? Do you ever feeling like just putting on a blue wig and disguise and going incognito?
Carrie Underwood: I go back to Tahlequah (Okla.) a lot to see my friends. I go incognito to a lot of places.
Wasington, D.C. : You must have a ton of Carebears by now. What do you do with them all? What is the strangest one you've ever received?
Carrie Underwood: I do have a lot. I donate several of them to good causes.
Washington, D.C.: When you do decide to spend your hard earned money, what is going to be your first big splurge item? A fancy car, Manohlos, inquiring minds want to know!
Carrie Underwood: I like to buy people gifts. I think that's the only thing I really splurge on. I don't need a fancy car. (I'm a bad driver.)
Washington, D.C.: Now that you are a superstar, how do you manage to stay humble and keep that same attitude you had before you won the American Idol contest.
Carrie Underwood: I keep people around me, like good family and good friends. I think that's important.
NYC, N.Y.: How do you like fame? Are you tired of being recognized already?
Carrie Underwood: The positive definitely outweighs the negative. Fans are awesome but every once in a while a couple will go a little overboard. But that's it.
Albany, N.Y.: Hi Carrie -- how did it feel to meet the President and First Lady? What an honor it must have been to perform for them. Your rendition of Oh Holy Night gave me chills, by the way -- it was incredible. Good luck on everything in your future -- you are amazing!
Carrie Underwood: That's something very few people get to do so I was definitely honored and nervous.
Sierra Vista, Ariz.: Carrie,
You have no idea how cool it was to watch you every week last season! How hard was it to know you were among the frontrunners and keep the quality up show after show?
Carrie Underwood: Everybody on the show was so talented. Each week it was a challenge to do our best so I was just grateful that I got to the top ten.
Atlanta, Ga.: Carrie, love the album! Can you tell us more about the work you do to help homeless animals?
Carrie Underwood: I've done a lot of different things for the Humane Society (HSUS). I've donated a lot of articles of clothing (for them to auction off) and plan to participate in events they have coming up.
Carrie Underwood: Thank you for being my fans. Thank you for all the support. And keep watching.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.