“Jesus, Take the Wheel” was a career-changing song for Carrie Underwood, helping to launch one of the biggest superstar careers in contemporary country music. But the song could have enjoyed a very different trajectory, as Lady A singer Hillary Scott nearly cut it first.
Scott tells Taste of Country that she had a development deal with a label in Nashville during her pre-Lady A days. Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson wrote “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” and it ended up being pitched to Scott during the period when she was listening to songs to potentially record.
“It was one of my favorites, and then that was all right in the time she was on American Idol,” Scott recalls. “She was a country artist on American Idol, which was amazing, and that song really spoke to her.”
Scott did not end up releasing any material from her development deal, and Underwood went on to win American Idol. She released “Inside Your Heaven” as her debut single in 2005, and released “Jesus, Take the Wheel” as the first single from her debut album Some Hearts later that year. The song gave Underwood her first No.1 hit on Jan. 21, 2006, and it also went on to win an ACM Award for Single of the Year, as well as Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
“She goes on to take it and it’s a huge hit and the message of the song is so beautiful,” Scott notes. “It’s neat to have watched the journey — the journey of that song — because they all have their own.”
Scott went on to form Lady A with Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood in 2006, and they released their self-titled debut album in 2008. The trio have also gone on to an A-level country career.