Carrie Underwood far from idle

-- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

If you're a music reporter, you have to like U.S. country superstar Carrie Underwood.

She is somebody who made something of her broadcast journalism studies, even if her words are turning into songs for BMI's Carrie-Okie Music.

Just as important, she is the new queen of country who is happy to pay tribute to that raw-edged icon of the 1980s, Randy Travis.

Clinching the deal, Underwood is a star who arrives at the John Labatt Centre for Monday's concert having edited her inevitable career-celebrating video montage down to a modest limit.

"It wound up being like five minutes long. We cut it down," Underwood says during an interview occasionally interrupted by her dog, Ace, who has the best little yelp in the country royalty's petdom.

It would appear to be Ace who is feeling the love in the photo of Underwood and a cute doggie that is part of the package for her hit album Carnival Ride (Sony/BMG). The photo is positioned alongside the lyrics for The More Boys I Meet. Is there a message? "The more boys I meet, the more I love my dog," sings Underwood.

Ace likely has a moment or two in the video montage.

Those blights on live performance first arrived at the downtown London arena with Cher's mini-epic in 2002. It was screened one more time in the diva's second final farewell to London in 2005. Granted, Cher's career is about 15 times longer than Underwood's so far. Cher's lavish video tribute to herself and her fans will only seem 15 times longer than Underwood's.

Underwood arrives with a Nielsen SoundScan Canadian Top 10 country album in Carnival Ride and a Top 10 country single in Just a Dream. That is one of the Carnival Ride songs co- written by Cape Breton's Gordie Sampson.

Underwood, who co-wrote several of the songs on the album, is full of praise for Sampson as a songwriter.

She is also quick to mention the Nashville-based writer also plays acoustic guitar on Carnival Ride.

It's not difficult to get Sampson playing -- "especially on things that he has written," she says.

"This is really good to keep something getting lost in translation."

Elsewhere on Carnival Ride, Underwood never sounds lost when translating Travis's impressive baritone on I Told You So into her own vocal range. Having Vince Gill along for the ride doesn't hurt. The Travis lyrics are almost Hemingwayesque in their direct force and simplicity. Underwood, 25, has been a Travis fan since she was a kid, she says.

"I'd probably make him feel so old if I said that to him," she says, laughing a little, but also serious because she's too kind to want it to sting in any way.

Underwood did cry when she met Travis. "I met him and he was so nice, and I started crying. I never know what to do with people when they cry when meeting me, so I was thinking, 'Gosh, I'm one of those people now. I'm being completely silly,' but it was just the way it happened."

A Travis encounter may have turned on the tears, but Underwood has handled other celeb moments with cool fire.

She appears on Brad Paisley's album 5th Gear, joining him on Oh Love. She has covered the Eagles and Bob Wills on the Grammys and Fleetwood Mac on Fashion Rocks. Underwood rocked the Pretenders' I'll Stand By You for the Idol Gives Back charity effort. As part of her involvement, she performed in South Africa for schools, orphanages, hospices and health care centres near Johannesburg.

So her life is all a carnival ride right now and she enjoys the "wonderful craziness" of it. Underwood also knows what needs to happen if the ride gets too crazy.

"I'd get to say back up," she says.


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