Why Carrie Underwood Doesn't Do Choreography: 'My Best Performances Are When I'm Lost in Songs'

In a new interview, Carrie Underwood said she "would be lying" if she said she didn't want to win entertainer of the year at the 2019 CMA Awards

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty 360 tour is all her own — and what the country star might lack in choreographed dance moves she certainly makes up for with her signature powerhouse vocals (and a whole bunch of glitter).

“I can’t really do [choreography],” Underwood, 36, told POLLSTAR in a new interview published on Friday. “Any time I’ve tried, it’s never felt right — and the vocals suffer. There are certain places you have to be for certain things, sure, but that just happens.”

And, make no mistake, “I definitely use my whole body,” Underwood said.

“I have involuntary body spasms when I sing, which is funny because I don’t realize it when I’m actually singing,” she said. “When I look back at performances on TV, and I didn’t realize, it sort of catches you.”

As to whether that’s a good thing, Underwood said, “Of course!”

“When you do, it becomes awkward,” she explained. “If I think about it, I notice my limbs. Then it’s a whole mind game. My best performances are when I’m lost in the songs. Just surrender to the music, really throw yourself into it. My husband [retired NHL player Mike Fisher] talks about it, too. How when he goes out to play hockey, it’s always best when he’s just in the zone.”

<a href="https://people.com/tag/carrie-underwood/" data-inlink="true">Carrie Underwood</a> The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Underwood wraps her Cry Pretty 360 tour with a performance in Detroit on Oct. 31. Then on Nov. 13, she’ll co-host the 2019 Country Music Awards, where she is nominated for the coveted entertainer of the year award.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want it or it’s an honor to be nominated,” she said. “I’m competitive and committed to what we do. But you know that award is about so much more than me. It’s about my team, all the people who work so hard with me — from the label to the road people, the musicians, the songwriters, my management, even the fans because it’s their award, too. I see the fans coming to multiple shows, calling the radio stations, trying to find the music.”

“I could say, ‘I’m just doing this for the fans,’ because there’s a lot of truth in that,” she continued. “And I’d rather be the person who doesn’t win, but should. But I look at the things that go into it: performances, album, tour, vocals, the songs. I want to be the person who truly excels at all those things.”

<a href="https://people.com/tag/carrie-underwood/" data-inlink="true">Carrie Underwood</a>
Carrie Underwood. Andrew Wendowski for imageSPACE/MediaPunch

At the 2019 CMA Awards, Underwood — who is also up for the female vocalist of the year and album of the year awards — is the only woman nominated for entertainer of the year, an award which has only been won by a woman eight times in the history of the show since its inception in 1967. When asked why it’s so much harder for women to win the award than men, Underwood answered, “Well, I’m bad at campaigning.”

“It feels icky to say, ‘Vote for ME!'” she said. “I don’t like to do stuff like that. Other people might do it, and it feels right for them. I think this stuff has to work for who you are … But it’s everything. I feel that when I see the difference between men and women, realize it’s not just me. I look at Runaway June with ‘Buy My Own Drinks’ going up the chart, and it should’ve gone faster and higher looking at what’s around it. It’s fresh, and it pops out. But they’re three girls.”

Underwood — who has been touring with her all-female openers Runaway June and Maddie & Tae — will host the CMA Awards alongside country legends Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire.

“It kinda feels like one of those, ‘Look Ma! I made it’ moments,” she said. “I mean, growing up in Oklahoma, I never thought I’d go to the CMA Awards, let alone be nominated, or perform, or host.”

<a href="https://people.com/tag/carrie-underwood/" data-inlink="true">Carrie Underwood</a>
Carrie Underwood. Matt Winkelmeyer/ACMA2019/Getty

When it comes to putting women front and center at both the CMA Awards and on tour (despite lack of airplay on country radio), Underwood said, “We’re doing all we can.”

“Nobody can say we aren’t doing everything we possibly could,” she said. “Trying to get people to change something just to change it is never easy. Miranda [Lambert is] doing an all-woman tour that’s completely different from ‘Cry Pretty 360’ — and that says something, too, about the depth and different kinds of women.”

“I look at all these little girls every night, who were just like I was,” she continued. “There were so many strong, smart talented ladies who helped us believe we could do this. But who do those little girls have? Or who do they get to hear on their radio? So we will keep showing up, showing these artists and people will see it and react.”

Related Articles