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Carrie Underwood In 'Heaven'

Life has been a whirlwind for country crooner Carrie Underwood since the 22-year old from Oklahoma sang her way into the hearts of "American Idol" fans.

"Most of the time, I'm like, where am I? What am I doing?" the TV show winner tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "It's still a dream."

Her single "Inside Your Heaven" with "Independence Day" on the B-side, is due in stores June 14. She will be touring with the "American Idol" top 10 this summer and working on her first album.

"It's exciting," she says, adding her hope is that one day she will record with her idol, Martina McBride.

She got to sing with Rascal Flatts, her other idols, in the finale, duirng which she was named winner from among 100,000 people who tried out for this season's show.

She also is the competitor who gained the most praise from often critical judge Simon Cowell. Back in March, he said she had it in her to win, and if she did win, she would be the "American Idol" winner who would sell the most records.

"That is a lot to live up to," Underwood says, but notes at that time his words got her worried. "I'm very, very complimented when he says stuff like that, but I know so many people don't like him. I'm thinking: 'They're going to hate me now.'"

One person she doesn't have to worry about is runner-up Bo Bice from Helena, Ala. Even though she defeated him in the show's finale, Underwood says, "He's just a brother. I've never had a big brother. He kind of watches after me and takes care of me."

He seemed genuinely happy that she won. And Underwood says she would have been just as happy if he had won.

"I know he's going to have just as successful, if not more successful, of a career as me," she says, "Everybody loves him."

Asked if all along she knew she could win the competition, Underwood says, "Top 24, top 12, there was just so much talent. I remember thinking in the top 24, I was so excited and happy to be there, but you think, 'Gosh I just want to make it into the top 12, and I'll get to record an album.' I thought, that's three weeks away. I don't know if I can make it three more weeks. Probably in the top four is when I thought I might actually have a shot at this."

Underwood started singing at church when she was 3, but she has no formal singing training. She dropped out of her senior year of college to be in "American Idol." Now that her life has changed, the one thing she wants to keep constant is her country roots.

"I love country music, and that's where I fit in," she says. "I like crossover country music, too. So I think that would be a good avenue to explore. But it's really all about picking out songs and finding ones that you feel fit you, no matter what genre they belong in."

And to ensure that the limelight does not hurt her character, she says she is making sure her family and friends are around to keep her straight.

She says, "I think it's really important to keep people around you who will keep you that way, like mom and dad and sisters and friends whom you've known your whole life. Just because, you know, they don't have a problem telling you: "You're acting like a jerk, Carrie. It's time to come down a few notches."

Underwood credits her mother for helping get through the competition.

On The Early Show, she sang "Inside Your Heaven."

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