The first performer became America's sweetheart after winning the fourth season of American Idol...Carrie Underwood! Growing up in the small town of Checotah, Oklahoma—population 3,533—Carrie says she never dreamed she'd sing in front of 30 million people each week on a hit television show. Before becoming a household name, Carrie worked at a gas station, a hotel, a pizza place and a veterinary clinic.
Since winning American Idol, this country girl has taken the music business by storm. Her first album, Some Hearts, has gone quadruple platinum—selling more than 4 million copies. Along with the Idol title, Carrie has also taken home top honors at the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards. And in what she calls the thrill of her life, she was named Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2006 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards.
Carrie performs her most downloaded song, "Jesus, Take the Wheel," which was nominated for Music Video of the Year and Single of the Year at the CMA Awards.
Carrie's big win wasn't the only news that made headlines the day after the awards show...Faith Hill's reaction to the announcement stirred up controversy throughout the country music industry.
When the presenter read Carrie's name, cameras caught Faith mouthing the word "what?" before walking out of the frame. Many people in the media said that Faith was upset that she didn't win, but Carrie says it was all in good fun.
"What really happened is she was just joking around backstage," Carrie says. "I'm not even sure if she knew the camera was taping her, but she was just messing around. ... It was no big deal."
Carrie says that as soon as the show was over, Faith called her personally to clear things up. "She called and said, 'I mean no disrespect,'" Carrie says. "I was like, 'You didn't even have to call, and my respect for you just went way up.'"
"I always swore to myself, if I was meant to sing then somehow the right doors would open up and I would know it," she says. "Sure enough, American Idol came along and there it all was just, bang, right there."
Carrie boarded her very first airplane when she traveled to Hollywood for her Idol audition, but now she travels all over the country performing for her fans. Carrie says performing is her favorite part of being famous. "[I get] to do what I love to do. I get to sing every night, and I've never dreamed that would be possible to be able to go to awards shows and sit on the couch with [Oprah] and do things like that. It's all just amazing."
Although Carrie became a star the moment she stepped onto the Idol stage, she never lost sight of previous goals. Carrie went back and finished college after landing a recording contract.
"I think the world needs more women like you who still understand no matter how many wonderful things happen to you, there is a value in education," Oprah says.
"It was a private concert I will never, ever forget." Gayle says. "I wonder if it was as good for him as it was for me."
Josh's first two albums have sold millions of copies and his third CD, Awake, also rose to the top of the charts. "All of the songs [off Awake] were loaded on my iPod weeks ago," Gayle says. "I already have them all memorized."
Although Gayle got no response from Josh about her video proposal, she does get to see him perform "So She Dances" on The Oprah Show!
"You're one of the artists when I buy your CDs ... I always like every cut," Oprah says.
"I was one of those kids who just had a hard time finding my way," he says. "[I went to] a school that was big on the athletics, big on the academics. I wasn't necessarily a hotshot at either, and I just knew that music was my language."
After years of struggling to find his voice, Josh transferred to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, which focuses on academics for half of the day and arts for the second half. "It was the first place that I really felt like I had a voice," he says. "From that moment on, [I] decided that it's okay to be different, it's okay to follow your heart, it's okay to really dive into what you believe in."
Thirty years later, Tony hit it big with a new generation of fans with his Grammy-winning album "MTV Unplugged." In 2006, Tony turned 80, won his 13th Grammy and recorded his 106th album. He has sold more than 50 million records in a career that has spanned five decades.
Life is so good for Tony that he doesn't even own a home or have a driver's license! "All I love to do is sing or paint. I don't need a car. I don't need a boat. I don't need a vacation," Tony says. "I'm always on a vacation because if I get tired of singing or get burnt out from it, I paint. And when I paint, it lifts me up and I feel inspired by it. When I get burnt out with that, I go back to singing."
Canadian jazz singer Michael Bublé climbed the Billboard charts with his sophomore album It's Time. The album features remakes of the hit songs "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Try a Little Tenderness." For Michael, working alongside Tony Bennett is a dream come true. "He's my idol, and more than just musically. I think that cool is as cool does."
Michael and Tony sing "Just in Time" to get the audience swinging.
Tony says he listens to Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. Does Tony have his own songs on his iPod? "Yep," Tony says, "Just a few songs."
Michael says he has the entire Tony Bennett collection on his iPod, and he admits to listening to himself sometimes too. "Sometimes I think, 'Oh, Michael, you're so good,' he jokes. "And then other times I think, 'You know, it would've been really effective if I had sung that in the same key that the band is playing.'"
Carrie says she listens to a wide variety of music including rock, country and "everything in between." However, Carrie says listening to her own songs is not something she enjoys.
"I really hate listening to myself," she says. "But sometimes if I don't sing my songs for a while, I need a little refresher to make sure I remember all the words."
Josh also likes to mix things up. His iPod includes Tony, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock and Bjork—and he occasionally listens to his own music, but not "You Raise Me Up," he says. "I've taken a break from listening to that one."