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Grammy rehearsals with Carrie Underwood: She's a JoBros fan

February 7, 2009 | 12:36 pm

EXCLUSIVE

Carrie_underwood Are you ready for the country? Carrie Underwood is.

Underwood is just one of a number of artists making up the Nashville contingent at the Grammy Awards this Sunday. Other performers include Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and Sugarland.

"A few years ago I performed on the Grammys and Rascal Flatts and I were the only country acts," Underwood said at this morning's rehearsals. "We did a tribute to Bob Wills and the Eagles ... now this year, there's a ton of country. It's so exciting."

There's a wandering cycle through the years of country music moving in and out of the mainstream pop scene. Today, Underwood sees a surging country-pop scene. Where does she place herself in it? "Right now I feel like I'm in on the bottom floor.... Country is starting to appeal to such a wide audience, it's reaching the masses," she said.

But Underwood, who was named best new artist at the Grammys in 2007, is not just riding the wave -- she's a big part of the push. Her standing in the industry has been more than solidified, as she has proven herself to be more than a contest winner.

After the singer wrapped up her rehearsal of "Last Name," Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlich marveled at the skills of the former "American Idol," as well as her growth as a performer. "She's gotten so strong. She's always had the voice but her control is fantastic now," Ehrlich said.

And while today's Grammy rehearsal is a closed one, you wouldn't know it from the crowd inside the Staples Center. Soon after Underwood performed, Stevie Wonder took the stage, singing "Superstition" with the Jonas Brothers. Perhaps unexpectedly, there's quite the crowd of industry insiders -- and their kids -- grooving out with equal enthusiasm at the cross-generation experiment. One fan: Mrs. Underwood, who was grooving as she walked through the corridors of the arena.

Young fans here will likely be holding on to their seats for a while -- next up is Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift singing a duet that brings young Hollywood and young Nashville together.

-- Geoff Boucher

Related: Grammy countdown: An inside look at rehearsals

Photo: Getty Images / People's Choice Awards