Since winning "American Idol” in 2005, Carrie Underwood has had a whirlwind career. And 2009 has been among the best years for the country sensation from Oklahoma. The "American Idol” winner from Checotah had a No. 1 country album in 2009 and was the Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year. She also was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and started her own charity this year. In February, Underwood won a Grammy for the third straight year, for best female country vocal performance. In April, Underwood was named female vocalist of the year and entertainer of the year by the Academy of Country Music. Her third album, "Play On,” was released in November and has sold more than 1 million copies. Her first single from "Play On,” "Cowboy Casanova,” reached No. 1 on the country music charts. On Dec. 7, Underwood hosted the television special "Carrie Underwood’s All-Star Holiday Special” on Fox. Also in December, her debut album, "Some Hearts” was named Billboard’s country album of the decade. Underwood ended 2009 with news she’s engaged to NHL player Mike Fisher.
Meet five remarkable women from Oklahoma. Whether they’re entertaining millions, serving their communities or sharing their knowledge, they’re using their gifts to inspire others. The Oklahoman’s Features Department narrowed finalists for the you! section’s Woman of the Year to five extraordinary women. A panel of staffers from The Oklahoman chose our winner, Dawn Welch, owner of the Rock Cafe in Stroud. Each of these women had a standout year in 2009. — Lillie-Beth Brinkman