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Katie Mosher Appreciation of World and Western Music MUS110.4230.F13 Musical Heritage Paper: Carrie Underwood 26 November 2013

My Musical Heritage

Early Life: Carrie Underwood and I were both born in the mid-80's. Carrie was born on March 10, 1983, and I was born January 4, 1985. Carrie Underwood and I were both one of three children. I was raised in Hudsonville, Michigan. Hudsonville was a small community and focused a lot on its farming. The people of Hudsonville knew each other and most of the neighbors had grown up together. Many of the parents of my friends had the same teachers that we had, and gone to the same schools that we went to. The town itself was a very safe place. At that time my parents did not have to worry about where I was going or who I was with. I was able to ride my bike through town to the candy store with friends, or go to the park without worry. We did not have to worry about people lurking around corners, or kids bringing guns into schools. Carrie Underwood grew up in the small community of Checotah, Oklahoma. As with Hudsonville it was a fairly safe community. Checotah also started off as a farming community, and by the time Carrie Underwood was a child they had a large paper mill where many people worked including her father. Although the town grew some, it was still a relatively small community.


Although Hudsonville is hours away from Checotah, they are similar in that they are religious Communities. In Hudsonville if you did not go to church and were not involved in your church then you were a minority. I grew up being involved in a church and the children's group there. People held their religion very closely, and at times they came off as judgmental. I did not like to sing like Carrie Underwood did, but I feel that the community that she grew up in was much the same as the one that I grew up in. Carrie Underwood learned to sing at Free Will Baptist Church where she went to church growing up. She began singing there when she was only three years old, something I could have never imagined doing at three, let alone as adult. Being in front of large groups of people is not my strong suit. She was supported by both of her parents as well as the fellow church goers. At three years old Carrie would sing hymns at the church, and according to the book, she loved to perform. Carrie's religious upbringing played a vital role in her life, even at an early age. Carrie listened to a lot of Christian music as well as country and some pop, which I did as well until early adolescence. I was not allowed to listen to music that was 'secular' on my own. My parents themselves listened to a lot of seventies and eighties music, but I had to listen to Christian music. My parents played other types of music such as Bruce Springsteen, Abba, Journey, Foreigner, etc. My parents were both big into music and spent a lot of time singing and playing the piano and guitar. I was not very into music then, and did not at all appreciate their love for it. There were many nights that my mom would sit up for hours playing Barry Manilow or Elton John on the piano as my dad would sing and/or play the guitar. At that time this really annoyed me, and did not at all inspire me to join their musical endeavors. My favorite musician at that time was Michael W. Smith; I really enjoyed his music. I was also introduced to Bonnie Tyler and Bryan Adams by a friend. I bought their tapes with some birthday money when I was pretty young and remember listening to them over and over again. At that time of my life I did not feel like music was very important to me, but looking back I


think that it was more important than I thought it was. My parents enrolled me in band, where I attempted to play the clarinet. I could not grasp the concept of this, but I think that it did influence me during that time in a positive way that I could not see at that time. Another similarity between Carrie Underwood's early years and mine was the fact that both of our parent's worked. Her mother worked as a school teacher, which is a full-time job and her father worked at a paper mill. My mother worked full-time from the time that I was very young as did my father. Although my parents had very different occupations, my mother worked as a purchasing manager and my father in the US Army, they both worked a lot. As a child many of my friend's mothers did not work. During the 80's it seems like women started to emerge more into the working world but it was not necessarily accepted yet, at least where I grew up. Carrie Underwood's mother also worked full-time, I would assume that put her in the minority group in that manner, especially in small town Oklahoma. Unlike my parents, Carrie Underwood's parents were still married. I grew up with my mother and step-father, not having a relationship with my father. According to the book, Carrie's parents also seemed to be very supportive of her even though they worked full-time. Growing up, my parents were not necessarily supportive of what I wanted to do with my life. They were supportive if it was convenient to them, and my activities suited them. Teen Life: Growing up in a small town can pose problems for adolescents. In small towns it feels like everyone knows everything about you, which seemed to be a bad thing. Now that I’ve grown up, I am able to appreciate knowing those around me, and have myself moved to a small town. By the time I reached high school, I was not in the popular crowd. I didn't necessarily stick out in a negative way, but I did not stand out as one of the cool kids. Fitting in was something that was


very difficult for me because I did not have a group that I belonged to, and I also did not play sports or do any other type of extra-curricular activities. This made things very difficult for me throughout my junior high and high school career; I felt like a social outcast. Looking back at it now, I realize that I really wasn’t a social outcast, and that in the big picture it really did not matter. Carrie Underwood did not necessarily fit in when she was in high school either. At that point kids her age realized that she loved to sing and she began getting picked on for her love of music. She began going to other cities in surrounding areas to perform. Performing in her small town of Checotah became something that she would not do any longer because she did not want to suffer the ridicule of the other kids her age. Although she loved music and singing, she did not want to be put down for it. One of the places that Carrie would not perform was the pizza parlor in a neighboring town where she worked, Ella's Pizza Joint. The only place in her hometown that she continued to perform was at her church. Carrie Underwood's education was something that was very important to her. She graduated at the top of her class in Checotah. Although I did not graduate at the top of my class, my education was something that remained important to me throughout my teen years. I have always believed that education is something that you are responsible for on your own, and that you need to take pride in it. It takes a lot of hard work and although sometimes there are other things to do, school work needs to remain something that is very important. I tried throughout school to keep my education a priority as did Carrie Underwood. When Carrie reached her teen years, she was singing country music as well as the Christian music at her church. By the time I reached my teen years, I had gone through a small era of listening to rap to country, but country became the music that I listened to the most throughout high school. I found country music to be something that was very peaceful and I could always find a song to match how I was feeling. During that time of life there are so many things that you think and feel, and music


has a way to make you feel better about your situation. This type of music was not 'cool' when I was in high school. It seemed that most of my classmates were listening to either hard rock or rap. I was not into hard rock or rap. I went through a very small phase of rap music, but that ended almost as soon as it had start. I really loved Garth Brooks as a younger adolescent. I also listened a lot to Diamond Rio. Towards my graduation year of 2003, I listened to a lot of Rascal Flatts. They were by far my favorite country group at that time. I went to eight of their concerts and bought every CD that came out. They had a song for every emotion that I felt and their performances were really amazing. I always felt that they spoke to me as different as that sounds. Late Adolescence Carrie Underwood's early twenties vary greatly from mine. She graduated from high school at the top of her class and then went on to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma to pursue a degree in communications and joined a sorority, called Sigma Sigma Sigma. She talked in the In the book, she talked about how she needed to be practical; “I had to be practical and prepare for my future in the real world,� which is something that I can relate to greatly. She had realized that she needed to go to school and get a job in the real world, and she had given up on singing. Although she did not plan to become a star, she performed while in college at different venues. Most of her performances were of the country music genre. When I graduated from high school I had just found out I was pregnant. I had already graduated from basic training for the Michigan Army National Guard, and was scheduled to leave for my secondary school upon graduating from high school. I had planned to then go to college for psychology out of state. Although that was my plan, that did not happen. I ended up working for a couple of years, and putting school off. I was married at twenty-one and was pregnant for my second child shortly after that. I basically realized, like Carrie, that I needed to be practical, and that I needed to work and provide for my family. I needed to be responsible. This was something that was very hard


to deal with during that time, but it is not a regret. I am glad that I got to spend my children's early years with them, because had I gone straight to college and gotten a job, my kids would have spent most of their time in daycare and I would not have gotten to be there as much. During the time of my early twenties I listened to country music and some Christian music as well. I kept to those types of music only pretty much exclusively. At times I did listen to other things as well, but not often. I listened to a lot of music that was uplifting as growing up fast and having children young is something that is hard to do. I had to put my dreams on hold, and tried to keep a positive attitude about the mistakes I felt like I had made. Not that I am saying that my kids are a mistake, but growing up in a small town and getting pregnant young is not an easy feat. I received a lot of heat from those that were once supportive of me. Most of my friends had disowned me as I had made the ultimate mistake in their eyes, which then became my largest mistake; letting their negativity rub off on me. As with Carrie, I did have someone that was supportive of my dreams and encouraged me to go back to school and do the things that I wanted to do. Early-Mid Twenties During her college career Carrie Underwood had many friends that encouraged her to audition for American Idol. Many people believed that she had a beautiful voice and that she should at least audition for the show. American Idol was a relatively new phenomenon when Carrie Underwood auditioned for it. Her mother encouraged her to audition, and drove her to St. Louis, even though Carrie was not sure that she wanted to go. Carrie realized that she would have regrets if she did not at least try out for the show. Carrie sang a Martina McBride song at her audition; Let Freedom Ring. During her time on American Idol she chose mostly country songs as she felt like she sang them better and she enjoyed country music. During this time it seemed that Carrie began to become her own


individual person. She traveled alone without her family and followed her dreams, something that is important for people to do in order to find themselves. One of the dreams that I had always had was moving out of state. My husband lost his job and we decided at that time to move out of state. We did not want to grow old and always think about what could have been. North Carolina was our destination as we had both always wanted to live on the coast. I was taking online classes part-time which was another dream of mine, making it easy to stay in school while living away. During this time in my life was when I really started to break away from what I thought I needed to do to make other people happy, and I started to try to figure myself out. I started listening to a lot to of eighties music and still some country. I realized that I really enjoyed the simple beats of the eighties music. I went to see some cover bands in North Carolina that covered all eighties music, something that I had never done before. I still listened to country music, but during this time I focused a lot on eighties. Although we did not stay in North Carolina due to my two children missing family, it was a great experience that taught me a lot about myself. I realized that I am my own person and that I do need to follow my dreams. I also realized that it is important to have those around me that matter. It is also important to follow your dreams, as Carrie Underwood also believed. Life—Conclusion Carrie Underwood is now a super star. Even though she has millions of fans, and she travels the world singing, she keeps Oklahoma close and her beliefs remain important to her still today. This is one of the reasons that I chose Carrie Underwood as a performer. Her songs are inspiring and she seems to remain a down to earth person with a good set of values. Many of her early songs were Christian based country songs. She still sings a lot about being home and her values, which seem to


mean a lot to her. Her newer music has changed slightly but she tends to keep to more Christian based lyrics, at least to some of her songs. Her music is very uplifting and she seems to keep a positive spin to most of it. Life can be a very difficult thing, but the fact is that perseverance is something that is really important, which is something that Carrie Underwood seems to also believe. I have been going to school now part-time for about four years and am now finishing my associate’s degree and transferring to Grand Valley State University. This is a trait that Carrie Underwood and I share. She also never lost hope and she pursued her dreams although the odds were against her. It is not every day that a person tries out for American Idol and becomes a super star. Going to school with two children and while working full-time is something that is not easy to do however it is something that does mean a lot to me. I want to show my children that your dreams can be achieved even when you do not live life the way that other people think that you should. I also want to be someone that they can look up to and that they can see did their best. I want to be someone that encourages them to follow their dreams, like Carrie Underwood's mother did with her when she drove her to the American Idol audition and encouraged her to singe her heart out. Although life is hard, you can do anything you want to do. My Evolution of Music My family has listened to a variety of music, and loved music my whole life. I believe their love for music has influenced my choices in music. Although I did not like music much growing up, I have learned to appreciate it as an adult. It provides inspiration, and can lift the spirits when needed. The one type of music that I listen to that my family does not listen to is Country. I love country music, which is how I came to find Carrie Underwood.


My family has lived in the United States for over six generations. My great grandmother is theyoungest child of thirteen and was born here, as were her parents before her. She listens to George Jones and Elvis. She loves Elvis, and has loved his since I can remember. My grandfather in turn listens to that same type of music. He does not at all like any of the music that is played today. He refers to all country music as 'Garth Brooks Music.' He thinks that all country singers today sound the same. My grandmother does not really listen to music and never has, unless my grandfather is listening to it. My mother and father still listen a lot to older rock music. They no longer listen to any Christian music. My dad will listen to about any type of music, but my mother sticks to light rock. She listens to some pop music as well, such as Adele. I do not enjoy most of the types of music that she listens to. She did love Journey growing up, and I do enjoy them. I actually went to a Journey concert this past year, which was one of the best productions that I have ever seen. I still love country and am going to see Jason Aldean this winter. I am now leaning more towards the rock type country such as Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. I still listen to eighties music, but I have also added some other types of music into my que as well. I listen to some more 'trendy' types of music such as Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Fun, and One Republic. My children love country. My daughter at ten listens only to country. She will be going to see Jason Aldean with me this winter. She does not listen to any other types of music yet. My son loves all music, but especially country. He wants to grow up to be a singer so he practices regularly. I think that this comes from my husband who also loves to sing. As I age, the types of music I like tend to change some. I think that the older I get the more mellow types of music I like. I do not like hard rock or rap. I think that this will not change as I get older. I think that I will continue to like mellow music. I do not see the genres of music changing much as I get older. I think that I will probably always like country music. I may eventually not like


that rocky country music at all, but I will always like country. I am not sure about the other types of music that I like now, as many of them are trendy types of music. How Listening Has Changed How we listen to music has changed greatly throughout my lifetime. I do not remember much before tapes, but I grew up listening to tapes. I remember as a pre-teen recording music from the radio onto tapes so that I could listen to it later. When CD's came out it was all the rage.

I remember getting my first CD player and

headphones. I bought Bonnie Tyler on CD and listened to it the whole way to Florida in the car. I thought that it was so cool to have a CD player, and that I could listen to whatever I wanted to. I still listen to a lot of CD's now, although it seems to me that not many people do. People now listen a lot to iPods or other means of electronic music. I do not listen to music on an mp3 player or iPod, but I do use Pandora. I like being able to listen to music and have the variety that this offers. I think that someday there will not be cd's at all and people will be using wireless everything. I think that people will be using very small wireless devices to play their music, something that I cannot imagine. Conclusion Music plays a vital role in our lives as it is everywhere. Music can help us when we need it and lighten the mood as well. Carrie Underwood is one of country music's greatest stars today. If it were not for her perseverance and love for music she would not be where she is today. Bibliography


1. Hackett, Vernell. Carrie Underwood: A Biography. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publication Group, 2010. Print.


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