Carrie Underwood Celebrates No. 1 Hits With Happy Hour Performance
Throughout her career, Carrie Underwood has seen 24 of her singles rise to the top of the country charts. On Thursday (Aug 11) in Nashville, Tenn., the superstar celebrated her two most recent No. 1 hits, "Church Bells" and "Heartbeat" with a special Storytellers Happy Hour.
Underwood was joined by her songwriters on stage for a stripped-down performance of each song, as well as her new single "Dirty Laundry" and the poignant "Jesus Take the Wheel."
In a press conference before the event, Underwood discussed writing "Heartbeat" with Zach Crowell and Ashley Gorley — her 13th No. 1 as a songwriter. As she explained to Taste of Country, when Crowell and Gorley came in for the co-write, they had some ideas ready.
"Zach is so good at putting together music and loops," Underwood says. "There's always about 20 different ideas everyone's working on at the same time. It's always like, 'Well, if you like it we can roll with it. If not we can find something else.'"
Underwood says she initially liked the idea of "Heartbeat" and wanted to see what happened as they continued to form the song. While she admits the word heartbeat has been used in many songs over the years, she said the way they were writing the song was "honest and refreshing."
"[It was about] things that we would want our lives to be, a simple kind of love," she shares. "Everybody gets so busy and caught up in everything. I'm always trying to hang out with a million people all the time and sometimes I'm like, 'Can it just be me and you for a second?' I feel like that's where I was coming from and everyone can relate to that."
Meanwhile, Underwood says she was initially drawn to "Church Bells" — penned by Crowell, Brett James and Hillary Lindsey — because she loves story songs (her album is Storyteller, after all) and empowering women songs. While the songwriters couldn't remember exactly who brought in the title "Church Bells," they confessed that once they started writing, they knew the song would be perfect for Underwood.
"I'm so thankful to have been on this ride with her," Lindsey says. "She's been so kind to us and so gracious. It's been a really great friendship. It's been fun."
During the No. 1 party, each songwriter was honored for the success of "Heartbeat" and "Church Bells" and had a chance to address the industry crowd.
"This is not a normal celebration. This is an epic day," Gorley says of his 26th No. 1 song with "Heartbeat." "My first hit ever was with Carrie 10 years ago with 'Don't Forget to Remember Me.' That kicked it all off for me so it means more than you can imagine to still be able to make this music and to be on this ride. It's a really big blessing."
Later, James would call Underwood a "once-in-a-century artist who can not only sing better than everybody else, she does it with an amazing amount of grace, class and humility."
A dream come true for Lindsey, who was also celebrating her 40th birthday, she said she never would have imagined in her 20s that she'd be sharing the stage with some of her dearest friends for a No. 1 song. Like Lindsey, Underwood is grateful for the community of songwriters who are also her friends.
"I've been so incredibly blessed throughout my life and my career but mainly because I get to work with the best. That is a blessing beyond blessings," Underwood remarks. "The community has been so great to me, Nashville has been so great to me."
After the reception, where those in attendance sipped on song-inspired cocktails and ate mini cupcakes from IveyCake, Underwood, Crowell, Gorley, Lindsey and James took the stage to sing a few songs, including "Jesus Take the Wheel."
"It's always fun to look back on your career and your life. This song was so important for me. You have to find those songs that mean so much," Underwood said of the hit, which was written by Lindsey, James and Gordie Sampson.
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