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Rewinding the Country Charts: 10 Years Ago, Carrie Underwood Motored to Her First No. 1

Underwood went right from "American Idol" queen to country chart royalty.

On Jan. 21, 2006, then-23-year-old Carrie Underwood, fresh from her 2005 coronation on Fox’s American Idol, now in its 15th and final season, soared to No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart with her debut smash promoted to country radio, “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” The song would spend six weeks atop the list.

Underwood had dented Hot Country Songs with two prior songs, including her Idol coronation track “Inside Your Heaven,” which blasted in atop the Billboard Hot 100 dated July 2, 2005; “Heaven” hit No. 52 on Hot Country Songs. “Wheel,” however, marked her first track officially worked to country radio, setting the course for her immensely successful run in the genre.


“Wheel,” about a woman who submits to a higher power for salvation, won two Grammy Awards in 2007: best country song (for its writers, Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson) and best female country vocal performance (for Underwood).

Underwood, from Muskogee, Okla., also snared the best new artist Grammy in 2007, thanks additionally to her debut album, Some Hearts, which spent 27 weeks at No. 1 on Top Country Albums. Underwood has notched 14 Hot Country Songs No. 1s and six Top Country Albums leaders, including 2015’s Storyteller, selling a combined 15.9 million albums to date, according to Nielsen Music – the best sum of any Idol contestant.

In another superlative, Underwood has yet to miss the Country Airplay chart’s top 10 with any of her singles (promoted to radio and excluding holiday fare). With 22, dating to “Wheel,” she holds the record for the most Country Airplay top 10 singles from a career’s start. She could extend her mark to 23 with current hit “Heartbeat,” up 17-14 this week.

Beyond the charts, Underwood will soon mark an anniversary of a different (and more adorable) kind: her son (with pro hockey player husband Mike Fisher) Isaiah turns a year old Feb. 27.