Carole Underwood always knew her daughter Carrie could sing, but she never expected her to end up one of country music's biggest stars.
In a new episode of "Through Mom's Eyes," Underwood told TODAY's Sheinelle Jones what it was like raising Carrie and watching her go from talent shows to American Idol to superstardom.
After rising to prominence in the early 2000s, Carrie Underwood has released eight successful albums and won more than 100 major awards, but as a child, the soon-to-be star was hesitant about singing in local talent shows.
"I would call and say 'Can Carrie sing? Will you let Carrie sing on this one?'" Underwood recalled. "And, you know, she hated it, because her friends were going to be out there, and she didn't like to sing in front of her friends. And sometimes it was like — she might be crying before she would get up there to sing. But she did. ... She always did. She just truly had a gift from God."
When she wasn't performing in talent shows, Carrie also learned music at home — her older sisters, Shanna and Stephanie, would listen to the country music that influenced Carrie's own style. Meanwhile, her mom would make her costumes for talent shows and other events.
"When you're in little talent shows and you're singing country music, you have to be all sparkly, so I would get material and I would make her costumes," Underwood said. "I look back at it fondly and think 'Well, you know what, I did a pretty good job there, didn't I?'"
As Carrie grew up, she continued performing in local shows, but Underwood said she never thought about her daughter's talent turning into a career. When it came time to go to college, Carrie decided to pursue a degree in mass communication, so Underwood supported her decision to appear on American Idol.
"We never even considered that she could win it at all, but at least maybe she could have some face and name recognition, and she would get to be an anchor or something on one of our local TV shows in Tulsa," Underwood said.
After Carrie auditioned for the show in St. Louis, Missouri, she got a golden ticket. Underwood said that they knew even early on that Carrie would make it to the Hollywood round. However, even knowing that, Carrie was nervous about appearing on the show.
"We were taking her to the airport, and she was just real nervous," Underwood recalled. "She told (her father) 'I'm just so nervous.' And he said 'Well, you know what, if you don't want to go, we can just turn around and go back home.' And she said, 'No, no, I want to go. I'll never know if I don't go ahead and go.' So we went. ... We waited at the airport until we saw that plane take off, and then it was like 'My gosh, you know, she's gone from us right now.' So that's how it began."
While Carrie eventually won her season of American Idol, Underwood said that she "always dreaded Tuesdays and hated Wednesdays."
"Her song was going to go on Tuesday, and so I always had to pray that she would be able to hit that high note, and that she would carry the tune like it was supposed to be," Underwood said. "It was just too harrowing for me. And I'm sure it was for her, too."
However, all of that nervousness paid off when Carrie came in first place, even though the family had no idea just how much bigger things would get.
"It didn't really dawn on me at that particular moment what was possibly going to happen," Underwood said. "Up to this time, it was just a competition. She won, and then my next thought (was) 'Well, we're do we go from here?' You know? 'I don't know how to do anything about any of this.'"
Now, Carrie is the most successful American Idol winner in series history, with seven Grammy Awards and millions of record sales around the world. Despite all of the awards and acclaim, Underwood said she never sees her as anything but her daughter.
"You don't realize that celebrities truly are just people," said Underwood. "They wash their clothes. They fold their clothes. You know? I just don't want her to change how she is, and I think she doesn't."