Sunfest: Carrie Underwood leads star-studded lineup

Carrie Underwood is almost here, ready to belt out hits from her latest album, Storyteller, like ‘Clock Don’t Stop.’

Carrie Underwood is almost here, ready to belt out hits from her latest album, Storyteller, like ‘Clock Don’t Stop.’

Carrie Underwood is Sunfest’s first female main stage headliner.

Emmalee Brunt, public relations and marketing manager for Sunfest, said the festival is thrilled to finally have a female artist front and centre.

“A lot of people have said over the years, ‘Why not get one of the top females?’ and it just hasn’t worked out that way,” said Brunt. “We’re really excited that it did for 2016… She’s so lovely, so vibrant. An amazing superstar.”

Brunt said that while the demographics of Sunfest attendees are wide-ranging, the event draws slightly more women than men, and Underwood stands out as an excellent role model, especially to young girls.

She also said it’s no secret Sunfest’s organizers are all hockey fans, with its founder Greg Adams a former NHL player. She described the festival as a “hockey family,” and added that it’s a pleasant bonus Underwood’s is too, with her husband, Mike Fisher, an alternate captain for the Nashville Predators.

“Obviously that wasn’t a factor in choosing Underwood, but it is a kind of unique tie-in,” said Brunt.

Underwood’s performance also coincides with the final season of American Idol this year, the talent search reality show that launched her career.

Underwood was born in Muskogee, Okla. a city not much bigger than North Cowichan. Her mother was an elementary school teacher and her father worked in a sawmill. As a child she had dreams of singing, but had more or less given up on them by the time she graduated from high school. She studied communications and journalism at Northeastern State University, however, afterwards music revealed itself as her true calling. When American Idol came to St. Louis, Missouri, in the summer of 2004, she decided to audition.

Over the past decade, Underwood has become a household name and many people aren’t even aware she got her big break singing for judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson during the show’s fourth season. She was named winner in 2005, and later that year her first album dropped. ‘Inside Your Heaven,’ her first single from that record, may or may not stand out in memories of fans and casual listeners, but just about everyone — fan or not — knows her second hit single from that album: ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel.’

Over the following decade, Underwood won dozens of awards (seven Grammys, 12 Academy of Country Music Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards), was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and had multiple songs and albums go platinum — sometimes double or triple platinum.

Underwood’s last tour ended three years ago, and during that time she and Fisher have had their first child, a boy named Isaiah.

“It’s been quite some time since she’s been on tour, so that was big for us,” said Brunt. “When you’re looking for an artist, that’s appealing because if an artist has toured a lot, chances are people have seen them in recent years.”

Brunt said another factor was simply that Underwood is at the top of her game. She’s one of the leading female country artists in the world right now, and Sunfest has shown in the past — with headliners like Keith Urban and Tim McGraw — it can handle such big stars.

Underwood takes to the stage at Laketown Ranch on Saturday, July 30. For tickets, visit Sunfest’s website or phone 855-486-4776.

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