The famous multitasker opens up about the challenges that come with her full life, from writing songs that are difficult to sing to raising two boys in a celebrity "fantasy-land." "This isn’t the real world," she says, "and we both recognize that"

By Nancy Kruh
February 26, 2020 06:00 PM
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Platinum-selling singer-songwriter, arena-packing entertainer, fitness apparel creator, wife and mom of two. And now, multi-tasker extraordinaire Carrie Underwood is about to add one more role to her list: published author of a new health and fitness book, Find Your Path, due out next week.

Honestly, how did she possibly add one more thing to that full plate?

Underwood revealed her secret last week during a Q&A session before radio broadcasters gathered in Nashville.

“At the time I was writing a lot of the book,” she explained, “I was pregnant, and I had the worst pregnancy insomnia, which actually ended up being a blessing because that’s when I wrote the majority of the book —the window from, like, 2 a.m. to 5 or 6.”

Carrie Underwood
| Credit: KAYLA SCHOEN/Courtesy AristoMedia

So yes, if you’re Carrie Underwood, you really can find more hours in the day.

Appearing at Country Radio Seminar, the annual industry convention, Underwood regaled her audience with stories about her packed life, leaving no doubt that —though her every-hair-in-place image may make her life appear effortless — being Carrie Underwood really does come with a grueling degree of difficulty.

And more often than not, the self-described perfectionist told her two moderators, radio programmer Beverlee Brannigan and CRS executive director RJ Curtis, she’s upping the difficulty herself.

She admitted, for example, that she’s often the one in her songwriting sessions who pushes to make music that’s harder to sing — “which I love and I hate about myself,” she said, “because whenever I’m going on the road, I’m like, why don’t I write easier songs for myself? But that’s just me, and I like challenge.”

Carrie Underwood
| Credit: KAYLA SCHOEN/Courtesy AristoMedia

That includes plunging into the unknown. Case in point: that new book. Though a seasoned writer with a journalism degree, she discovered it required far more work than she’d imagined.

“I really had no idea what I was getting into when we started writing the book,” she confessed. “I was just like, all right, we have the CALIA [fitness apparel] thing going on, and obviously this is a part of my life that people would ask me about, and it seemed like a good idea. So it was kinda like, let’s give it a try and see if I have anything to say.”

“But,” she said, reflecting on those wee hours, “it had its own set of challenges.”

Another case in point: her decision to go out on tour last year with a 3-month-old baby, her second son, Jacob, who was born in January 2019. After all, she’d taken older son, Isaiah, on tour in 2016 when he was just 8 months old, and this time around, her husband, retired hockey player Mike Fisher, would be going along to help.

Carrie Underwood
| Credit: Nancy Kruh

Ever the optimist, Underwood said she thought, “We can do it again.” But, she added, “I definitely banked on Jake being an easy baby. This kid better sleep at night!”

Unfortunately, she said with a laugh, “He didn’t get the memo.”

Indeed, Jacob was “an easy baby,” she said, just one who insisted on being fed multiple times at night. And that often made for one tired momma, she admitted.

“And shows? They won’t let me go on at, like, 5 o’clock!” she said, laughing again. “I gotta go on late!”

Despite the fatigue, she still kept to her hard-core exercise routine — essential preparation, she said, to give “100 percent” onstage.

“My trainer was like, ‘You know, you can really just come in here and take a nap and nobody would know,’” she recalled, and she even let herself imagine the scene: “It’s like, ‘Mike, I’ve got to go work out. Watch the kids.’ I just go night-night.”

Who was she kidding? “I never did it,” Underwood confirmed. “But it’s a good idea!”

Carrie Underwood joins music execs to celebrate the sales achievements of Cry Pretty and its singles (from left): Cindy Mabe, Ann Edelblute, Royce Risser, Underwood, Mike Dungan, album co-producer David Garcia, Brian Wright and Jackie Jones.
| Credit: Kayla Schoen/Courtesy AristoMedia

So does she ever allow herself to slack off?

Underwood revealed she actually learned an important lesson about the perils of striving to be the best as a first-time co-producer on her latest album, Cry Pretty.

On previous albums, she noted, “I feel like I was always super-focused on sounding perfect, being perfect, hitting the best notes — and how long can I hold this one.”

But listening to her own vocals with a producer’s ear, she realized some of her “imperfect” singing actually packed more emotional punch. “It was such an epiphany as a vocalist to kinda hear that,” Underwood said, “and work on things that were more nuanced and made you feel more.”

Carrie Underwood
| Credit: MBP Photography/Courtesy AristoMedia

Underwood also left no doubt she’s not so tightly wound that she can’t let loose. The hard-rock fanatic told how she recently went to a Guns N’ Roses concert, and she beamed: “It was probably the best night of my life.”

Yeah, she acknowledged, she knows she’s supposed to reserve “best” for much more significant life events, “but I love concerts,” she gushed. “I love them so much.”

And at most concerts, she added, she’s stuck in an arena box “and I can’t feel that energy.” But for Guns N’ Roses, she threw caution to the wind and joined the throng. “I was losing my mind and didn’t give a crap about what anybody around me thought,” she said, clearly relishing the memory. “I put a couple band guys on either side of me and they were able to be as equally embarrassing as I was. But it was amazing. Amazing. A-mazing.”

Underwood is about to head out on a four-city book tour to promote Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life. She told her interviewers she’s not sure if she has a second book in her; health and fitness is a “passion,” but music remains her main focus.

Carrie Underwood
| Credit: AFF-USA/Shutterstock

Meanwhile, she continues to have perhaps her most difficult role waiting for her at home: raising Jacob, now 1, and Isaiah, who turns 5 this week. (She revealed she’d actually hoped for a girl when she was pregnant the first time: “And once we had Isaiah, and he’s just the sweetest thing ever, when we were pregnant with a second, I really wanted another boy.”)

Reflecting on her own modest upbringing in Checotah, Oklahoma, Underwood said she is especially grateful that her parents set an example of hard work and humility. Now, she said, she realizes that lesson “is going to be a bigger challenge than either me or my husband ever thought about, because we live in fantasy-land, right?”

Just for starters, Underwood shared, she and Fisher are regularly showered with gifts for their children. “Everywhere we go, other people give my kids things, and we don’t buy the toys,” she said. “We’ll go into their little play area and I’m like, we didn’t buy any of this! Other people do. And it’s hard. It’s like, this isn’t the real world. And we both recognize that, and we know that we have a lot of work to do to make sure our children are humble and hard workers.”

And, she added with a laugh, “We gotta tell people to stop buying them stuff!”