"There were a few undertones from people," Carrie told USA Weekend. "Nobody ever came up to me and pointed his finger and said, 'You shouldn't be here.' But it was always, 'So and so said such and such.' But can you honestly imagine me spending 20 years singing in bars trying to make it? That doesn't fit me at all. And my family didn't have the money to pay for a demo. So what was I going to do? 'Idol' was the door God opened for me, and I took my chances."
Carrie played for small crowds before performing on the Idol stage. During her waitressing days at Sam & Ella's Chicken Palace in Tahlequah, Okla., Carrie recalls singing for "maybe 150 people ... and that was on a good night. They probably weren't even paying attention!"