Fifteen years ago, Jan. 21 was a day of celebration for Carrie Underwood, and a hint at the superstar career that she was going to have. It was on this day in 2006 that the singer earned her first No. 1 hit on the country charts, with “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” from her debut album, Some Hearts.
While “Jesus, Take the Wheel” was Underwood’s first country No. 1, it wasn’t her first chart-topping hit overall. Previously, the now-superstar hit No. 1 on the pop charts with ”Inside Your Heaven,” which was released one month after she won Season 4 of American Idol in 2005. However, it was “Jesus, Take the Wheel” that introduced Underwood to country fans and showed off the kind of music that she was capable of making.
Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson wrote “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” a song that remains one of Underwood’s biggest hits.
“My wife had a similar experience to the girl in the song: My wife had a car crash when we were dating,” James recalls to The Boot. “She nearly died. Her car spun around several times and went under an 18-wheeler. She said she saw angels come help her. She walked away with no injuries. I thought it was interesting that she had that same situation happen to her like the girl in the song.”
“Jesus, Take the Wheel” was released on Oct. 3, 2005. While some questioned Underwood’s choice of debut single, the Oklahoma native says she knew right away that it was the right song for her.
“People started saying, ‘Oh, it’s kind of risky. You’re coming out with a religious song,’” Underwood tells Esquire. “I was thinking, ‘Really?’ I grew up in Oklahoma. I always had a close relationship with God. I never thought it was risky in the least! If anything, I thought it was the safest thing I could do!”
“Jesus, Take the Wheel” earned Underwood numerous awards, including two Grammys, for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Underwood included the tune on her 2014 Greatest Hits: Decade #1 project.
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