Country music is a genre of American popular music that originated in the rural regions of the Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from the southeastern genre of American folk music and Western music. Blues modes have been used extensively throughout its recorded history. Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars, fiddles, and harmonicas.
The term country music gained popularity in the 1940s in preference to the earlier term hillbilly music; it came to encompass Western music, which evolved parallel to hillbilly music from similar roots, in the mid-20th century. The term country music is used today to describe many styles and subgenres. In 2009 country music was the most listened to rush hour radio genre during the evening commute, and second most popular in the morning commute in the United States.
Carrie Marie Underwood (born March 10, 1983) is an American country music singer, songwriter, and actress. She rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. Underwood has since become a multi-platinum selling recording artist, a winner of six Grammy Awards, sixteen Music AwardsBillboard, seven American Music Awards and ten Academy of Country Music Awards, among several others. As a songwriter, she has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Underwood is also a two-time winner of the Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year award and the first woman to win such an award twice (2009/10). Underwood was inducted into and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2008. She was also inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
Her debut album, Some Hearts, was released in 2005. Bolstered by the huge crossover success of the singles "Before He Cheats" and "Jesus, Take the Wheel", it went on to become the fastest selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history, the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history and the best-selling country album of the last ten years. Underwood won three Grammy Awards for the album, including Best New Artist. Her second album, Carnival Ride, was released in 2007, with one of the biggest opening weeks by a female artist in history, and later earned Underwood two Grammy Awards, for the singles "Last Name" and "I Told You So". Released in 2009, her third album, Play On, was led by the success of its first single, "Cowboy Casanova", and finished the year as the second top-selling release by a female artist. 2012's Blown Away, her fourth album, was ranked the second best-selling release of the year by a female artist. She won a Grammy Award for the album's song "Blown Away". With her strong album and single sales, and $100 million in tour revenues, Underwood is the biggest American Idol earner, the highest-ranked American Idol alumni on the RIAA's Top Digital Artists of all time list and the fourth biggest album seller of the past ten years. She has sold more than 30 million singles and 16 million albums worldwide.