A version of this story appears in Monday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
For Carrie Underwood, there’s no place like home
The country music superstar, who hails from Checotah, will bring her “Blown Away Tour” to Tulsa’s BOK Center on Wednesday.
As she brings her “Blown Away” headlining tour to her native state for the second time this fall, Carrie Underwood undoubtedly would agree.
“There’s more people in the audience that I know, and there’s a certain level of ownership that I have and that the crowd has because I’m the hometown girl,” Underwood said in a phone interview earlier this autumn.
The day before Thanksgiving, the Checotah native will bring her latest stage spectacle to Tulsa’s BOK Center. “The Blown Away Tour” is supporting her new album of the same name, which already boasts two chart-topping hits, a dramatic third single climbing the charts and the sentimental ode “Thank God for Hometowns.”
“My parents still live in the house I grew up in, which I’m so thankful for, because there’s my home in Nashville. But if I say I’m going home, it means I’m going to Oklahoma,” said Underwood, who was in Los Angeles Sunday night to perform and receive the favorite country album award for “Blown Away” at the American Music Awards.
It may sound like a cliché, but when it came to devising her “Blown Away Tour,” the country music superstar, 29, and her team wanted to live up to the name of her fourth album and its title track.
“No pressure other than we just always want to keep moving forward and outdo the last one. You always wanna come up with new ideas and have it look different and feel different than anything you’ve ever done before,” said Underwood, who brought her third headlining tour to Oklahoma City last month.
“We kind of start out with all of our dreams, what would we love to have, anything in the world, what do we want to do. And I keep saying ‘we’ because it really is a collaborative thing. There’s stuff that we do in the tour that I didn’t even know was possible and I never could’ve thought up on my own. And then there’s stuff that I totally suggested that I wanted to make happen that I brought to the table. So having everyone’s best view, we put together something that’s really amazing.”
The singer-songwriter has taken a similar wide-open approach to crafting all her albums. With her three previous albums — 2005’s “Some Hearts,” 2007’s “Carnival Ride,” and 2009’s “Play On” — Underwood has sold more than 15 million albums, making her the best-selling “American Idol” in the United States.
“I can mark my life by my albums and by my tours because they all feel different. It’s not just kind of running over the same thing again and again,” she said.
“You let the songs write themselves; you know, when you come into a writing session having like no preconceived ideas of what you’re gonna write for the day, you could write a love song, you could write kind of an adventurous type song (or) something really dramatic. You just don’t know. And I love that.”
Although she co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on her latest album, including the singles “Good Girl” and “Two Black Cadillacs,” Underwood chose “Blown Away,” penned by “Before He Cheats” scribes Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, as the title track.
Like the album, “Blown Away” has already been certified platinum. The vivid story song also inspired a music video that pays homage to “The Wizard of Oz” while telling the tale of an abused girl who leaves her drunken daddy to the violent winds of fate during an Oklahoma tornado.
“It is very dramatic. You can see everything playing out in your head when you listen to it. She gets a new start but something bad has to happen first. It was just really intriguing to me when I heard it and … I just loved everything about it. I knew I had to sing that song when I heard it,” she said.
“The ‘Blown Away’ video was so dramatic and so wonderful, we actually used a lot of content from that video — stuff that you see in the video and stuff that wasn’t in the video — in the show. We want people to be able to … tie everything together and make it all make sense together. I think it makes it a lot more memorable that way.”
More than seven platinum-selling, chart-topping, Grammy-winning years have whirled by since she won “Idol,” but Underwood said she still gets anxious before she releases a new album or goes out on tour.
“In my head, it’s good, but then I start questioning, ‘Oh my gosh, what if it’s just good to me? Nobody every thinks they’re making a bad album, but then some come out and they’re not very good. So where does that leave me and how do I fit into that?’ So I just get nervous. I want people to like what I’m doing as much as I love it. And that’s a little scary when you think about it,” she said.
While she “ain’t in Checotah anymore,” as another of her songs goes, Underwood knows she will see herself when she plays her home state Wednesday.
“I love looking out in the audience and seeing myself in so many of these little girls that are sitting out there screaming and singing along. And I think it’s important to be able to get up there and show them that they really can do whatever they want, they can come from a town with 3,500 people and be able to do something really cool.”
With: Hunter Hayes.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: BOK Center, 200 S Denver, Tulsa.
Information: (866) 726-5287 or www.bokcenter.com.