18 Years Ago: Carrie Underwood Scores Her First No. 1 Hit

18 years ago today was a huge today for Carrie Underwood. it was on January 21, 2006, when Underwood scored her first No. 1 hit with “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” The song was her debut single from her freshman Some Hearts album, released about six months after Underwood was crowned the American Idol winner.

“Jesus Take the Wheel,” which stayed at the top of the charts for six weeks, was written by Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson and Brett James.

“I just love that song so much,” Underwood said on The Ty Bentli Show. “I’ll come off stage and I’ll text my band. I’ll be like, ‘I felt Jesus in the room tonight.’ It’s just a constant reminder of how I need to do more of that in my life. Because I feel like my whole life is always … not worrying, but I stress myself out about things. And a lot of times it’s just because I want to do a good job at things. So I’m always thinking ahead.

“I’m always thinking about writing and what the next thing is, what the next project is, and that’s a great reminder to me constantly to just stop worrying,” she added. “The doors are going to open, opportunities are going to come. Keep your eyes and ears open, and just let Jesus handle it.”

Although the song turned out to be one of the biggest ones of Underwood’s career, and one she still performs in her shows after all these years, “Jesus, Take The Wheel” was not written with Underwood in mind.

“Carrie Underwood had not won American Idol yet. She was just on the show,” James told The Tennessean, sharing the story behind the song. “This is January of the second season of American Idol. Nobody knew who (she was) and we didn’t write it for Carrie. Fortunately, a couple months after writing the song, Carrie wins American Idol, and is going to be a country artist.”

Not only was “Jesus, Take the Wheel” Underwood’s first single from her freshman record, but she debuted the song that year at the CMA Awards.

“It turned into something special for all of us,” James recaled. “And it’s still, I think, still special to Carrie. We’ve been so blessed by her over the years.”

Underwood was a student at Northeastern State University, studying mass communication, when she competed on American Idol. Although she did return to graduate, Underwood never used her collge degree, moving full-speed ahead into her music career after her Idol win.

“My best job is definitely what I do now,” Underwood told UMG Nashville. “I really like being on stage. I really like performing for people and just having fun and singing, because that’s what I feel like I was born to do.”

Underwood has extended her Las Vegas residency into 2024, due to fan demand. Find all of her music and tour dates at CarrieUnderwoodOfficial.com.