Carrie Underwood's life dramatically changed in the course of a few years from being a student to a multi-platinum recording artist after winning American Idol. Although she valued the drastic improvement in her life, she reveals after winning big at her first Grammy Awards that she wouldn't have wanted her big break to happen any sooner than it did.
Before she won American Idol's fourth season in 2005, Underwood had nearly made it in the music industry as a teenager. That path eventually led to a dead-end for the young singer and she began to lose hope in her aspirations to become a recording artist. With her dreams fading, she took a more practical route and enrolled in college in her native Oklahoma.
That was her life until 2004, before an audition for American Idol that set her life on a different route: a road with bright lights and a big stage. Three years later, the then-23-year-old Underwood won two awards, including Best New Artist, at her first Grammy Awards in 2007.
"I think every day I have little moments that [I'm] just like, 'Wow! What was I doing?'" she says of the differences between her past and present lives. "I'll be in my house--I'm a 23-year-old who owns her own house and I don't have debt and stuff like that, which...is just so exciting in itself. I realize how lucky I am and how blessed I am. So much has happened so quickly."
Although she enjoys her successful lifestyle, Underwood claims to be fortunate that her initial attempts to break into the music industry fell through. As she tells ET's former correspondent Vanessa Minnillo, it's all about timing.
"I definitely encourage everybody to go after their dreams, but it's always so important to get an education...Go to college; find out who you are and after that there's plenty of time," she says. "I tried to 'make it' when I was really young and I'm so glad it didn't work out then because I got to experience so much more and learn so much more about myself. Everything works out the way it should, hopefully."
Fate has revealed plenty more success for Underwood in the years following her Best Artist Award, as she has won three additional Grammys and has been nominated for at least one award in every succeeding year.
For her seventh consecutive Grammys, the arguably most successful American Idol winner is nominated for Best Solo Country Performance for "Blown Away."