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“Come on in. How are you doing?” With those words, Randy Jackson welcomed Carrie Underwood to her American Idol audition. Despite her nerves, Underwood strode confidently to the center of the room. She sang an old Bonnie Raitt song and stepped into a spotlight that she has not yet relinquished. It’s been nearly 20 years since that moment, and Carrie has grown in every way. As an artist, she’s not only developed her voice, she’s also learned the craft of songwriting and even production, taking more control of her music with each album. As a person, she’s grown up in the public eye, learning to handle the pressures of stardom, starting a family and overcoming life’s unexpected setbacks. And yet it’s striking how in those first few seconds on TV, so much of what we love about Carrie Underwood is right there before us: the girl-next-door charm, the easy wit and most of all, the ability to make us feel a full spectrum of emotions through the simple act of singing a song.
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