Carrie Underwood Looks Back on 'American Idol' Audition Nearly 16 Years After Win

Carrie Underwood won Season 4 of American Idol in 2005, and the country star reminisced on her time on the show ahead of Sunday night's episode with a promo chronicling her journey to stardom, as well as how she inspired future Idol contestant Gabby Barrett. The video began with a clip of Underwood during her time as a contestant on the show, catching a fish and declaring, "There are plenty of fish in the sea, and I caught this one, so, I hope I'm one that's caught by the judges and I get to go to Hollywood."

"That's how the story started for this Oklahoma girl, and everyone knows it was only the beginning," show host Ryan Seacrest then says in a voiceover as Underwood's hit "So Small" plays in the background. "Now a household name, Carrie's prolific career has made and indelible mark on the music industry. And it doesn't stop there."

13 years after Underwood auditioned for the show, Barrett tried her hand at Idol in 2018, ultimately finishing in third place before going on to become one of country music's fastest-rising stars. The promo shows Barrett's original audition for judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, where she tells them that Underwood is her idol. "I love her, she's beautiful," she says. "Well, Gabby, maybe you're the next one," Perry tells her.

As Barrett was inspired by Underwood, she is now inspiring a new group of hopefuls, including Idol contestant Laila Mach, who auditioned during Sunday's episode. Ahead of her audition, the 15-year-old got a special message from Barrett, who wished her luck in a video call.

"Hi, Laila! I just wanted to wish you good luck on your audition today," Barrett said. "I know you are going to do great. Do what you know how to do best and I hope to meet you sometime very soon." In June, the 21-year-old told PEOPLE that she now considers Underwood a friend and that they "keep in touch."


"If I'm going to be compared to anybody, I hope it's Carrie Underwood," she said. "But when I actually talked to her about how people compare me to her on American Idol, she said, 'You know what? You have blonde hair, I have blonde hair. You have a big voice in country music, and so do I. But clearly there's a difference between me and you — our voices don't sound the same.'"

"She was like, 'You have more grit and you have soul and a real R&B flare in your voice. It's much different than mine,'" Barrett added. "She predicted that everything would be fine after American Idol for me."