Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood grew up in Checotah, Okla., as the youngest of three sisters. She performed in local talent shows, earning the attention of Capitol Records when she was just 14 years old, although she never actually signed a contract. After becoming salutatorian of her high school class in 2001, Underwood attended Northeastern State University, majoring in mass communications, and graduated magna cum laude in 2006, one year after being crowned the Season 4 winner of 'American Idol.' When Underwood was auditioning for 'Idol,' judge Simon Cowell predicted she would outsell every previous winner of the competition -- and she remains the best-selling contestant on the show, with more than 14 million albums sold in the United States.

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