Carrie Underwood has been busy lately, but she set aside some time on Dolly Parton’s birthday to shout out one of her musical heroes.
Parton turned 72 on Friday, Jan. 19. She’s had one of the most unique and prolific careers in music history, with over 40 studio albums and over 100 singles, not to mention her work on TV and her Dollywood theme park.
Underwood, like all young country singers in the past several decades, took a lot of inspiration from Parton’s work, and she said as much in her Instagram post on the country icon’s birthday.
“Beautiful, talented, confident, amazing, generous...BIRTHDAY GIRL!!!” Underwood wrote beneath a picture of herself arm in arm with Parton. “Love you @dollyparton !!! You inspire everyone who is blessed enough to be around you! I hope you have an amazing birthday! Hope to see you soon!”
Fans were overjoyed by the picture of the two smiling singers. Parton has a contingent of lifelong, die-hard fans who make pilgrimages to Dollywood and show up in droves every time she sells out a stadium. Underwood is on a trajectory for the same level of stardom, with a mounting number of hits under her belt and an expanding, loyal fan base.
Underwood is one of the most successful stars to come out of ABC’s American Idol, the singing competition show that promised to launch musical careers in the early 2000s. While many other versions of the singing competition have cropped up, none have managed the fever-pitch status the Idol did, and none have created singers with the staying power of Underwood.
This month, Underwood catapulted to new heights with a single called “The Champion,” which she co-wrote and recorded specifically for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The song is a fist-pumping, foot-stomping sports anthem featuring a verse from rapper Ludacris, co-written by Chris James and Chris DeStefano, produced by Jim Jonsin.
“The Champion” is intended to be the psyche-up theme for NBC’s NFL broadcasts, and they’re hoping audiences will get attached to it in time for Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 4. After that, the song will be used for the network’s broadcasts of the XXIII Winter Olympic Games, which begin the following week on Friday, Feb. 9. This year’s competition will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, so there’s a chance Underwood’s sports anthem will reach a global audience.