The 28-year-old singer arrived in Sydney in the wee small hours yesterday, after the volcanic ash cloud over Melbourne on Monday forced her entourage to travel by bus instead of plane on her first visit to Australia.
“We got to see a bit of the land I wasn’t expecting to see,” said Underwood, who is here to promote an updated version of her third album, Play On.
The singer, winner of American Idol in 2005, has sold 14 million albums since then, making her the most successful artist to emerge from the worldwide Idol franchise, eclipsing Kelly Clarkson.
“I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster, but I don’t want to get off,” she said. “I’ve experienced so much in six years.”
Underwood, born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, got her chance on American Idol after driving for seven hours to an audition in St Louis, Missouri. After making the cut, she won every round of the competition by a large margin.
“I entered American Idol on a whim,” she said. “I was about to graduate from university. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, so I thought: ‘Why not? The worst they can do is say no.’ ”
Since then, Underwood’s albums Some Hearts, Carnival Ride and Play On and collaborations with country singers Brad Paisley and Randy Travis have earned her five Grammy awards.
But she isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I don’t know if you ever feel completely comfortable in the entertainment business,” she said. “You never know when something will come along and you realise you still have a lot to learn.”
She admits success has changed her. “It would be impossible to not let it affect you,” she said. “I was 22 when I was on American Idol and now I’m 28. That’s a huge growth period in someone’s life. I’ve grown up a lot and learned a lot about myself.”
She married US ice hockey star Mike Fisher last year. “There’s someone else to think about now before I schedule shows. I don’t think it will change my work that much, though.”
After her brief stint in Australia, she would like to come back. “I would love to tour here,” she said. “This is the first step.”