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Carrie Underwood talks to Stylist

With More4’s Nashville a growing guilty pleasure, country star Carrie Underwood talks to Stylist about making it in the music capital of America…

ABOVE: Carrie Underwood at this year's Grammys

Have you seen Nashville the TV show? And what do you make of it?

I have! I know a lot of people who are involved in running the show and I love all the scenes at the Grand Ole Opry. It’s plugging our city and a lot that’s good about Nashville. But you know, it is a drama…

You mean female country artists aren’t really so backstabbing and bed-hopping in real life?

Noooo! There are so few women in country music versus the men. But the TV shows are always about them and how drama-rific it all is, how they all hit each other.

Hayden Panettiere’s character is supposedly based on you…

I have a lot of girlfriends in the scene and none of us are like any of the characters on the show!

ABOVE: Nashville TV stars Connie Britton, Charles Esten and Hayden Panettiere

You’re actually from Oklahoma, but first tried to make it in Nashville when you auditioned for Capitol Records when you were 14. Tell us more…

We knew somebody who knew someone [at Capitol]. Through them, they got my demo and wanted to do a recording. I don’t think anybody ever listened to it. Ha! But I loved Nashville. I went with my mom and just being there was amazing. Plus, Nashville is all in the music. Everybody’s awesome and talented. You go to church on a Sunday and everybody’s singing. You could record an album with the quality of their voices. Even karaoke singers in Nashville are amazing!

What qualities do budding stars need to make it in Nashville?

I came to Nashville in an unconventional way [winning American Idol in 2005]. But you need a lot of luck. It’s just recognising doors opening and taking opportunities when they come. Everybody there is either part of the music industry or trying to make it in the music industry - it’s such an interesting world to live in. And many of the people trying to make it, if it never happens for them, I bet they wouldn’t want to change their career path at all. But… some people do make it. You hear stories of people who are like, ‘I was a demo singer for 15 years’ suddenly making it. They keep at it, then one day everything clicks and the stars align.

What’s it like living there?

It’s great: just enough city and just enough country. If you live in town, you probably still have a backyard. The people are just so wonderful and super-friendly. They reminded me of the super-friendly people in Oklahoma, where I grew up. A couple of years ago the river overflowed and flooded the town. And it was such a tragic event. So many people lost their houses. But you realise what a great community it was. Everybody helps out everybody else. They’re good people, they work hard, they give a lot. It’s a really nice area to be in.

ABOVE: Carrie in concert in Las Vegas

How do you survive being a vegetarian in Nashville? Southern food hardly has a reputation for being healthy…

I am 100 per cent vegetarian but I try my best to be vegan. It’s getting better. There are so many restaurants that will work with you - even steakhouses. My husband [ice hockey player Mike Fisher] loves to eat meat and there’s a place called King Prime that we like to go to. They’re always really nice to me and give me veggies if I ask for them. There’s loads of newer restaurants in [hip Nashville districts] East Nashville and The Gulch that will cater for you too…

Is it difficult for women to make it in the Nashville scene?

It’s a bit more of a struggle for country music. There are so many more male artists than female artists. There have been female artists, like Loretta Lynn [Sixties singer-songwriter] who worked so hard to pave the way for people like me…

See Carrie at C2C: Country to Country at the O2 London on 16 & 17 March. Visit c2c-countrytocountry.com for more details

Images: Rex Features