Carrie Underwood has always had the audacity of a “born dreamer.” Unlike many of her musical contemporaries, she didn’t grow up in a fancy suburban mansion or a posh New York penthouse. Like most of the hard-working Americans about whom she sings, she was brought up in a modest household and had to work hard to earn the respect that she deserved.
These days, she doesn’t have to worry about earning her respect. With four huge albums and a bevy of accompanying hits, Underwood is riding high. Unlike some American Idol winners, she has successfully navigated the transition from the intense scrutiny of the show’s weekly format to the free-form tribulations of musical stardom. Along the way, she has formed plenty of mutually beneficial partnerships and made a number of savvy decisions.
One of Underwood’s most fruitful partnerships involved Stephen Finfer’s dynamic, innovative music-publishing firm; and more specifically Kara DioGuardi and Marti Frederiksen. Over the space of nearly two years, Arthouse Entertainment spearheaded the release of two of Underwood’s highest charting singles. If she wasn’t a household name before “Undo It” and “Mama’s Song” hit the charts, she certainly couldn’t avoid the spotlight afterwards.
Underwood wasn’t always the confident starlet whose brilliant smile graces magazine covers around the world. Her American Idol apprenticeship was marked by a series of challenges that taught her valuable lessons about the music business. Even after signing a lucrative recording contract, she grappled with self-doubt and practical challenges that would have sidelined lesser artists.
Of course, Carrie Underwood overcame all of those early tests. By 2009, she was riding high on a wave of fame, fortune and genuine goodwill. During the second half of the year, she recorded and released “Undo It” as a digital single. Thanks to an overwhelmingly positive reception from critics and the listening public, the song was released as a traditional single just a few months later and exhibited incredible staying power near the top of the charts. Under the careful direction of Stephen Finfer’s Arthouse Entertainment, “Undo It” has continued to move records online and in stores. In fact, the song recently sold its millionth copy. “Undo It” peaked at the top of the Billboard Country Chart and hit #23 on the closely watched Hot 100 chart.
After realising such success, Carrie Underwood and Stephen Finfer’s Arthouse could easily have parted ways with no ill will. Fortunately, they weren’t done yet: Kara DioGuardi and other talented songwriters teamed up to produce the beautiful, underrated “Mama’s Song.” In the weeks that followed its November 2010 release, “Mama’s Song” blasted up the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and took the Billboard Country Chart by storm. Like the preceding single, “Mama’s Song” has had tremendous staying power. Critics cite the song’s effortless evocation of a bygone country-music era and its innovative use of modern pop sensibilities as the driving forces behind its lingering influence. By all accounts, Underwood’s fans wholeheartedly agree.
Although she has occupied the public’s imagination for a decade, Carrie Underwood remains one of the most powerful young performers in popular music. As the years roll on, it’s safe to bet that she’ll continue to push the boundaries of traditional genres and make more music that marries country’s swagger with pop’s soul. Thanks to Stephen Finfer, Kara DioGuardi and Arthouse songwriters, her best days lie ahead.