Carrie Underwood and water

I am so grateful for friends and acquaintances who alert me to women and songs I had either not known, or just never considered.  One such woman is Carrie Underwood.  I certainly followed her on American Idol’s 2005 season.  She was so good, even curmudgeonly judge Simon Cowell accurately predicted she would win and outsell all other winners and he did it when there were still eleven contestants in the race.  Carrie was born in 1983 in Muskogee,  and raised in Checotah, Oklahoma.  Though she sang at her church, the First Free Will Baptist Church, and also for local events, she didn’t pursue singing after high school.   Instead, she went to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in mass communications.  But before she graduated, the singing bug got her again and she auditioned for American Idol in St. Louis, MO.  When she went on, she handily won every week.  After winning the competition, she went on to a stellar singing career.  Rolling Stone recognized her as the female vocalist of her generation in any genre.  She is the only solo country artist this century to have a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and the only country artist to debut at number one on the Hot 100.  She had the most number one hits on the Billboard Hot Country songs chart, with 14 songs.  Her debut album, Some Hearts, was number one and earned 14 platinum records.  Her subsequent albums have followed with similar success.  Among her many honors, she has seven Grammys.

This week, my church baptized a number of people, so Carrie’s song is timely.  “Something In the Water” was released in 2014 as the lead single in her album, Greatest Hits: Decade #1. In February 2015, the song won her Grammy number seven for best country solo performance.   Carrie wrote the song with Chris DeStefano and Brett James.  James reported that when he arrived for a writing session at her cabin, she and DeStafano already had a track ready.  Underwood suggested “Something in the Water” as a title, and they wrote the song about someone whose life changes from dead-end into strength and joy after baptism.  The music video of the song premiered in November 2014 during the annual CMA Awards.  The song was well reviewed in many media outlets.  Rolling Stone called it a spiritual heartstring-tugger.  As with so many of her songs, this one reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs.  Her award winning video can be seen at

Mabel Wayne’s Cathedral

Usually, women write the lyrics, and someone else, generally a man, will write the music.  Mabel Wimpfheimer, a red haired lass from Brooklyn, switched those roles.  Though born in 1890, she later changed those dates to 1899, then to 1904, in her publicity.  Apparently Wimpfheimer was another publicity problem, so early on her surname changed to Wayne.  She studied voice and piano in Switzerland and attended the New York School of Music.  Her early career consisted of playing the piano, singing and dancing in vaudeville.  In the 1920s, she is claimed to be the first woman composer to publish a hit song with “Don’t Wake Me Up, Let Me Dream” with lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert.  During her heyday from the 1920s to the 1950s, she wrote the music to many other hit songs, mostly with a Latin flair, such as “Ramona”, “Chiquita”, “In a Little Spanish Town” and “It Happened in Monterey”.  The latter song was from a spectacular early film musical, “King of Jazz” released in 1930. The lyricists with whom she worked included Billy Rose, Mitchell Parish, Joe Young and many others.  Through her own singing and piano talent, she recorded some of her hits from the 1930s.  She married music publisher Nick Campbell in 1948 in Reno.   In 1972, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  She died in Glen Cove, New York on June 19, 1978.

A different song for her was “My Cathedral (The Home I Love)”, with lyrics by Hal Eddy, published in 1953.  Unlike the mainly Latin tempos and secular themes of her other works, this more closely goes along with the more traditional Anglo lyrics and faith-based theme.  The singer’s cathedral is within where one can always pray.   Just as every man’s house is his castle, so his heart is his cathedral.