Talent Recap

7 Talented Women in Country Who Got Their Start on ‘American Idol’

Lauren Alaina, Carrie Underwood, Kelly PIcklerAllen Berezovsky/Getty Images, Jason Kempin/Getty Images, John Shearer/WireImage

American Idol Season 17 contestant Laci Kaye Booth recently announced that she’s part of CMT’s Next Women in Country for 2022. Laci is just the latest rising female country star to have gotten her start on the hit show over the years. Take a look back at all the talent country queens we first saw on Idol.

1. Carrie Underwood

Of course we have to start with the biggest country star to ever come out of American Idol. Underwood won Season 4 in 2005, when she was 22 years old. She’s gone on to release eight studio albums and win seven Grammys, as well as headlining a number of tours. Her hits include “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.” Underwood is one of the most successful Idol winners of all time, in any genre.

2. Gabby Barrett

Many people consider this Season 16 finalist to be the next Carrie Underwood. She finished in third place, but Barrett didn’t need a win for her career to take off. Her single “I Hope” hit the top of the country charts in 2019. She was also the first female country artist since Taylor Swift to make it to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2020, Barrett released her debut album Goldmine.

3. Lauren Alaina

This singer was just 15 years old when she auditioned for American Idol Season 10. She ended up finishing the season in second place. In 2017, Alaina released her second studio album and topped the charts with her songs “Road Less Traveled” and “What Ifs,” featuring Kane Brown. Alaina went on to place fourth on Dancing with the Stars Season 28 and was recently invited by Trisha Yearwood to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

4. Kellie Pickler

Pickler was 19 when she auditioned for Season 5 of American Idol and charmed viewers with her sweet personality and strong voice. She finished the season in sixth place and went on to release her debut album, Small Town Girl, which was certified gold. For her second album, she co-wrote the song “Best Days of Your Life” with Taylor Swift. In 2013, Pickler won Dancing with the Stars Season 16, and she later co-hosted the daytime talk show Pickler & Ben with Ben Aaron.

5. Laci Kaye Booth

This singer made it to the Top 5 of Season 17 at age 23, performing songs such as “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard and “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert. Booth released a self-titled album in 2021, featuring the songs “Shuffle” and “Treasure.” Now she’s being honored by CMT as one of the Next Women in Country for 2022.


6. Kree Harrison

This singer finished Season 12 of American Idol in second place in 2013, after performing songs by the Beatles, Faith Hill, and Carrie Underwood. She went on to release her debut album, This Old Thing, in 2016. Her second album, Chosen Family Tree, was released in 2020, featuring the single “That’s How Hearts Get Broken.”

7. Kristy Lee Cook

This singer placed seventh in Season 7 of Idol in 2008. Her first album after the show was titled Why Wait, featuring the single “15 Minutes of Shame,” which made it to the Top 30 on the Billboard country charts. She went on to release the EP All Kinds of Crazy in 2016. Cook is also a TV personality, starring in the reality show Goin’ Country and most recently hosting the hunting program The Most Wanted List.

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