Friday, April 24, 2009


Carrie Underwood accepted the Entertainer of the Year trophy at the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 5, 2009. That fact we know. But what happened AFTER she got the award? Country Countdown USA host Lon Helton covered that subject and more during Carrie’s first full-length radio interview since winning country’s top award.

For example, Carrie received the award from actor Matthew McConaughey. Prior to handing out the award, he told the audience he once tried to gain the attention of a couple girls by saying he made George Strait’s boots. In her acceptance speech, Carrie, who was still in shock from winning the award, blurted out, “I wanna see those boots Matthew!” Carrie told Lon that her comments may have been misunderstood. “It was just a joke. It was just something that flew out. Afterwards, I said 'Oh mom I’m sorry!' totally joking again, and then different media outlets said 'Carrie apologizes,' and I really didn’t, because I had nothing to apologize for. I was just being silly. Things come out weird in print.” Carrie had a few moments with Matthew as they walked off the stage. So what did she say to him? “I saw him right after the show, and I was like, “I hope I didn’t embarrass you. I embarrassed myself!”

Also on stage as Carrie accepted her Entertainer award was the host of the show, Reba McEntire. Reba had won the same award in 1994, so she knew how Carrie was feeling. Afterwards, Carrie told Lon she spoke with Reba. “She was so excited I won, so for someone like her to seem so genuinely happy for me meant a lot. She sent me a present which really meant a lot. She sent me a vase from Tiffany’s. It’s beautiful. I have no idea what I’m gonna do with it. Nothing in my house is nice enough to put this near. So it was really nice.”

Carrie told Lon winning the award was totally unexpected. “It had been a wonderful night anyway. I had the Female Vocalist award in my pocket. I could leave now, I’m a very happy girl. And I was just talking with my mom, and it was something I didn’t expect at all. I know my fans love to vote, but the other nominees, it was like I didn’t have a chance!”

One of the “other nominees” in the Entertainer category was Kenny Chesney. She ran into him as she was on her way to the stage to accept the award. Afterwards, Lon asked Kenny what he said to Carrie, and he said “I told her I was proud of her and I wanted her to know that not everyone gets to stand in that spot, so when you walk in there, take it all in.” Lon played that quote for Carrie, who said, “I’ve known Kenny since I started, I went on tour with him, and so much has happened since then. So for him to tell me he was proud of me meant a lot. I also talked with Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts later that night, who said a lot to me about enjoying the experience.”

One of the other highlights of the night (besides winning the Entertainer award) was when she performed “I Told You So.” The performance was flawless, but what caused people to talk was Carrie's incredible red dress. “It was interesting to figure out the logistics of making that dress work. My stylist showed me a picture of it, and I was willing to try. Then I saw it in person, and it was a lot of fabric! It’s even more fabric than you can see. They may have even made it smaller. Getting into it was a challenge. I thought I was going to have it pre-placed and have me walk into it. The dress stood up on it’s own. So I got into it from the top. It was interesting. I’m glad it was just me and my stylist. Reba was nice enough to let me use one of her side-of-stage changing areas. It took a few people to get me into it. It took five people to carry the dress on the stage. Then afterwards there was something people didn’t see. There was a part of the stage that was supposed to come down so the audience couldn’t see us as we moved off. I waited a second, nobody came, so I just scooped up the dress to get off stage. Everybody laughed, and I hoped it wasn’t filmed, but people wondered why the audience was laughing. That’s why.”

After winning the award, Carrie went to a few post-awards parties. Carrie told Lon she got together with Kellie Pickler and Miranda Lambert at the Sony Music party. “After the show, we had a really good time afterwards. I’m surprised we didn’t do more damage than we did. So it was a lot of fun hanging out with the girls.” Alan Jackson was also at the Sony party, and Carrie gave her mom a thrill by introducing her to Alan. “My mom had fun with him at the ACM after-party. I don’t think she ever met Alan before. So she got to meet him. It was great to speak with him that night, because he was my first concert when I was just a little girl, so to sit at a table and talk about whatever is exciting. He reminds me of my dad, but nicer. He’s probably the same way now as when he started, which is so cool.”

Although she has just won the Entertainer of the Year award, Carrie says there are no plans for a tour this year. Instead, she’s starting work on her third album. “I’m doing lots of thinking about the next album, and lots of writing, we should be going into the studio for the first round within the next couple weeks. We’re writing with a lot of the same people who I wrote with on Carnival Ride. I feel like I’ve found my place as a writer, and I look forward to doing more of it.” As far as singles, Carrie says “I Told You So,” is very likely to be the last single from Carnival Ride. So there may be a few months where there isn’t new music on the radio. “I don’t want people to get tired of me, and it won’t be much of a gap, because they’ll be wanting to release a single before the album comes out.” In the meantime, look for Carrie to perform on the finale of American Idol next month, and then on the Grand Ole Opry on June 9th as part of CMA Music Festival.

You can hear more of Lon Helton’s interview with Carrie Underwood, where she talks about appearing on the Oprah show, performing on the Grammy Awards, and much more on CMT’s Country Countdown USA over the weekend of April 25-26, plus highlights will be posted at
Credit: Official photos courtesy of Getty Images


When country music goes to Las Vegas for the annual Academy of Country Music Awards, there are many planned events, but also a lot that is unexpected. Certainly the Awards TV show on Sunday night is the main event. But there are a lot of other things going on in town, starting with the annual radio remote, where 50 of the nation’s largest radio stations broadcast live from the MGM Grand Hotel. That’s where Country Countdown USA host Lon Helton was camped out, taping video interviews with the stars for the show’s new Video Player.

Lots of country’s biggest stars came by the remote site to speak with Lon, including Faith Hill, who was in town for the Artist of the Decade tribute to George Strait. Faith told Lon about the first time she went to a Strait concert. “When I was 14, I pleaded with my brother to drive me from Mississippi to Houston to see George at Gilley’s. And I told him, ‘I’m gonna open for him someday.’ So when I got the job to open for him, my brother Steve was the first person I called. He epitomizes what is great about country music.”

The host of the ACM Awards TV show, Reba McEntire, came by as well. She previewed her new single, “Strange,” which she performed on the show. While she was there, Lon gave her an award as the most-played country female artist in the history of the Mediabase chart.

Rascal Flatts dropped by the set on Friday afternoon. They’d just flown in from LA, where they attended the premiere for the Hannah Montana movie. Joe Don told Lon they weren’t able to stay for the movie because they had to fly to Vegas. They walked the red carpet, and got to talk with Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus. The other reason they were in Vegas was to host the annual ACM golf tournament, which took place Saturday morning.

One of the celebrities at the Westwood One radio remote was NFL star Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings. Lon asked him about the big trade involving Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears. That means they’re now in the same division. “I was just goofing with him the other day. I got to play against him when I was in Kansas City, so now I can play against him in Chicago. So now twice a year, I get to peal the back of his head off the turf! I love the guy, but business is business!”

Other stars who came to the remote included Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, John Rich, Heidi Newfield, Jason Aldean, Rodney Atkins, Miley Cyrus, and many more.

Saturday night, after the radio remote, there was a small ceremony where the ACM presented the awards for Radio Station and Radio Personality of the Year. Sugarland was on hand to do the honors. Lon was given his award for National Personality of the Year.

Sunday afternoon, lots of fans gathered outside the MGM Garden Theater for the red carpet activities. The biggest screams came when a black Escalade pulled up, and Keith Urban jumped out. The crowd screamed even louder as he ran to the other side of the car and opened the door for his wife, actress Nicole Kidman. Keith signed a few autographs for some happy fans before heading in for the Awards show. Other stars on the red carpet included Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins, Taylor Swift, and many more.

You can watch all of Lon’s video interviews by going to and clicking on the Video Player.