Carrie Underwood Through the Years: 20 Acoustic Performances

It’s been 10 years this month since Carrie Underwood released “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” a song that would define her early on as a wholesome, powerhouse vocalist with mass appeal. That was a fitting label at the time, but it fell short of what I knew her to be: a deeply emotive artist who understood humanity.

In the years that followed, Underwood would slowly and deliberately reveal the artist beneath the surface. To varying degrees of success, she would push her creative limits, make surprising career moves and express herself through commanding personal conviction. She would speak up unexpectedly and stand firm in her beliefs. Over a decade, her choices have created a tapestry that, flaws and all, finally underscores her depth as both a person and an artist.

And there’s nothing more characteristic of Underwood than empathy. Ironically, her most personal performances are those that give voice to others, especially people in moments of vulnerability and despair. Looking back, her version of “Jesus Take the Wheel” isn’t really about Jesus; it’s a story of judgment-free compassion, not dissimilar to her current single, “Smoke Break.” If storytelling means embodying emotional struggle, Underwood has proven she’s as gifted a storyteller as they come.

In honor of Storyteller, out Oct. 23, I’ve compiled 20 of Underwood’s acoustic performances over the past decade. Rumor has it we’ll have more to add by the end of the week, but for now, enjoy:

“Jesus, Take the Wheel”
Christmas in Rockefeller Center, 2005

“Bless the Broken Road”
Clear Channel Stripped Raw and Real, 2006

Azalea Festival, 2006

“Just a Dream”
Carnival Ride DVD, 2007

“I’ll Stand By You”
“Idol Gives Back,” 2007

Fan Club Party, 2007

“Don’t Forget to Remember Me”
Carnival Ride Tour, 2008

“Before He Cheats”
VH1 Unplugged, 2012

“So Small”
Ft. PS22 Chorus, 2012

“Temporary Home” (1:00:00)
CMA Songwriters Series, 2012

“Undo It”
CMA Songwriters Series, 2012

“Good Girl”
Oscars Launch Party, 2012

“Blown Away”
BBC Breakfast, 2012

“Two Black Cadillacs”
CMA Songwriters Series, 2012


“Do You Think About Me”
VH1 Unplugged, 2012

“Wine After Whiskey”
Fan Club Party, 2012

“Fix You”
VH1 Unplugged, 2012

“Good in Goodbye”
Fan Club Party, 2013

“Something in the Water”
Yahoo Ram Country, 2014

“Little Toy Guns”
Yahoo Ram Country, 2015


  1. Ooh, cool feature. I love the intro. I also love the inclusion of that “Patience” performance. I would have included this “Something in the Water,” though:

  2. Yes, that “Something in the Water” from this month’s All 4 the Hall Gala was absolutely mind-blowing. Best she’s ever sang it in any medium.

  3. So I don’t comment here often (but I am a VERY long time lurker).Most times I have commented it probably has been related to Carrie, so that’s my disclaimer before this absolutely too lengthy rant that’s about to happen:

    Tara, what a list you put together. These videos here are probably some of my favorite of all times. I feel like the first couple performances show exactly why many people were so excited to have her in this genre. At the beginning a lot of people criticized her lack of emotion when singing, but I think the first two videos show how much potential she had when she connected with the right songs. We knew she had a beautiful voice, but even then we could see glimpses of how extraordinary she could end up being.

    But I am going to single out a few of these. First, the So Small performances (the one with PS22 and the CMA Songwriters) and the rest of the CMA Songwriters performances kind of epitomize everything that has made me a fan of hers. Watching her in those specifically, I feel like you can see so much joy and love, and the empathy and humanity so often talked about in her reviews from the past few years. She has learned to emote so well, and can make someone just sit there and listen to what she is singing. There’s just a purity to her voice that resonates so well with me, and I’m sure many other people. Hopefully we’ll see her continue to figure out how to put that into her recordings more and more (which from the already released songs of Storyteller) it seems like she’s been able to do.

    I love when she performs in acoustic settings, because her voice just absolutely shines. Not to mention it brings the beautiful country cry out in her voice that I love so much and wish she would employ more often. It’s really evident as well when you see the reactions of the people on stage with her, and the genuine respect they seem to have for her and her voice. I think it’s also telling that she gets asked to perform on so many different stages within the music industry, and she seems to have earned respect from so many within the business. She has become quite the ambassador for country music, and putting my fan card aside, genuinely can’t think of another mainstream artist who has been able to represent the genre the way she has throughout all facets of entertainment.

    It’s been amazing to see how much she’s grown and progressed over the last ten years, and I hope we continue to see that more. I truly believe she could end up being a very important figure in country music history by the end of her career.

    So sorry for the rant, but I know with Storyteller coming out soon I’ll be super focused on the music itself coming up, and for whatever reason felt the need to write this. But Tara, fantastic job with this list. It’s always fun for me to come on and read everything all of you here put up!

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