Carrie Underwood Praises Linda Ronstadt at Kennedy Center Honors: 'She Always Broke the Rules'

Carrie Underwood performed two songs, "Blue Bayou" and "When Will I Be Loved" in tribute to Linda Ronstadt at the recent Kennedy Center Honors. Underwood's own successful career was influenced by the music legend, whom Underwood praised for breaking the rules in music by doing whatever she wanted to do.

"One of the things I always admired about her is her ability to do whatever she wants," Underwood shared on the red carpet ahead of the ceremony. "The thing is, she always broke the rules, and played music that she felt was true to her. She was a chameleon. She loved music, and she sang so many different kinds and genres. She wanted to sing country music, rock music. She would sing in Spanish. She is just somebody who I feel like the rest of us should be more like."

Underwood, who stunned at the ceremony in a sparkling dusty rose gown, wasn't the only country artist in attendance. Her friend Thomas Rhett was also on hand to perform "This is my Street, Sesame Street," with Elmo, Bert, Ernie, Grover and Big Bird.

Underwood is back at radio with her latest single, "Drinking Alone." The song is from her latest Cry Pretty album and toed a line for Underwood, but it was one that she refused to cross.

“It was important to me because we’re singing this [in the] first person," Underwood explained, via CMT. I didn’t want it to be like, ‘Oh, we’re going to get drunk and go home together,’ because that’s not something that I would do.

"If it is going to be like an extreme kind of character," she added, "I think I’d rather put it in third person, or put it in a [context where] you’re speaking about somebody completely different, not use first person.”

Underwood, who co-wrote "Drinking Alone" with David Garcia and Brett James, handled the lyric carefully so listeners would know how the song really played out.

“You know, ‘This isn’t a thing, I’m not going home with you,'" Underwood noted. "Let’s just be here and be present and kind of get over our heartaches in the same space.'"

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Download or stream "Drinking Alone" at Underwood's website.

Photo Credit: Getty / Vivien Killilea