If Carrie Underwood weren't so genuine, she'd be easy to loathe.

But anyone who has met or even seen the "American Idol" winner likely can't muster anything but joy about her.

"We've definitely put a lot of work in, and there's a lot of thought in making it, hopefully, a really amazing experience," Underwood told Country Weekly just before setting off on her "Blown Away" tour. "Not just going to hear someone sing, it's all about seeing and hearing and being in it and being a part of it. We just want people to come and have fun and to walk way saying, 'That was amazing,' " Underwood said.

Chalk up Underwood's ultra-strong work ethic and down-to-earth attitude to her background. Born and raised in rural Oklahoma, she was a small-town girl who showed early promise as a singer but put the dream away soon after she was 14, when a contract with Capitol Records was canceled during the label's management transition.

Carrie Underwood
Where: 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Info: $46 to $66; 202-307-SEAT (7328); ticketmaster.com

She also competed in various beauty contests, too, and auditioned for "American Idol" in the summer of 2004. After singing "Could've Been" by Tiffany, then-judge Simon Cowell commented she would be a favorite to win. And, of course, she won.

Underwood has been on a musical fast track ever since selling more than 15 million albums, achieving 16 No. 1 singles (with seven as co-writes) and winning an array of awards including five Grammys.

But even with all of that success and more -- she toured with Brad Paisley early in her career and has developed a siblinglike relationship with him, which they recently displayed as hosts of the CMA Awards -- she remains very much a small-town woman dedicated to her fans.

How else to explain her comments to Country Weekly about the excitement she felt going to concerts, even if she was in the back of an arena with only the view from the screens. That's one reason Underwood strives to literally reach her fans, though she is worried about a mishap.

"I'm not a big catwalk fan," she said. "I'm in heels and people want to touch you and I want to touch them, and I'm always scared to death that I'm going to fall off the stage. It will happen at some point, [but] I want to get to the back and see everybody."