Carrie Underwood has a tight bond with her two older sisters, Shanna Means and Stephanie Shelton.
Born to paper-mill operator Stephen and elementary teacher Carole Underwood, the Denim & Rhinestones singer-songwriter is the only one of her siblings not to follow in their mother’s footsteps — both Shanna and Stephanie have worked as teachers since the ‘90s.
While Carrie wouldn’t trade her cowgirl boots for any other job in the world, she’s also the first to admit that her celebrity makes her feel like somewhat of an outlier.
“I’m the black sheep of the family,” she told Marie Claire in 2013. “The black-crystal sheep. Swarovski.”
Growing up in Checotah, a small town nestled in the plains of Oklahoma, Carrie shared that her family wasn’t big on showing physical displays of affection.
“We were never a huggy family or a ‘let’s talk it out’ family,” she told the outlet.
The age gap between Carrie and her older sisters led the “Before He Cheats” vocalist to develop some “selfish” tendencies early on as well.
“Technically I have siblings, but they are quite a bit older than me — I was the accident — so I have the only-child syndrome going on,” she said. Because of that, the Grammy-winning singer said she is “a little more independent, a little closed.”
Now mothers of their own, Carrie, Shanna and Stephanie lean on each other for support more than ever. In 2018, she voiced her support for her sisters and fellow educators amid an Oklahoma teacher’s strike.
More recently, the trio got matching heart tattoos with their mom in Las Vegas.
Here’s everything to know about Carrie Underwood’s sisters — Shanna Means and Stephanie Shelton — and their relationship with the country artist.
Carrie and her sisters grew up in Checotah, Oklahoma
The Underwood sisters were raised in a quaint Oklahoma town called Checotah, about an hour southwest of Tulsa. In a candid conversation with Today, their mom Carole described it as “a small town [where] everybody knows everybody.”
Carole and her husband, Stephen, welcomed their future country music superstar on March 10, 1983.
Meanwhile, Shanna and Stephanie were ages 13 and 10 years, respectively. Despite her daughters’ tight-knit bond, Carole said that her youngest admittedly grew up as an only child.
“By the time Carrie was big enough to be her own person, Shanna was already gone from the house and Stephanie went to college, so Carrie was kind of like an only child because she was so much younger,” she told Today.
Shanna and Stephanie had a strong influence on Carrie as a kid
Growing up with older sisters, Carrie was inundated with different genres of music and beauty trends at a very young age.
“I feel like at this point, all my fans know I have a huge love of rock music,” she said during an interview on Today’s Country Radio With Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country. The songstress explained that her affinity for rock and roll came from her older sisters, who always “controlled the radio.”
“They thought it was funny for me to sing, like, ‘Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room’ [by Mötley Crue] as a 3-year-old, so I did,” she recalled, adding that she was often the family’s source of “entertainment.”
In addition to music, Carrie said Shanna and Stephanie turned her into “a total makeup junkie.”
“I had teenage sisters when I was really young … and I thought they were the coolest with their big ’80s hair,” Carrie told Marie Claire in 2010. “I was totally a human Barbie doll to them — they would dress me and put makeup on me. That’s where my love affair with makeup started.”
Shanna and Stephanie work as elementary school teachers
Like their mom, Shanna and Stephanie have dedicated their careers to educating the youth.
Shanna began teaching at her hometown’s public school in Checotah, Oklahoma, in 1995. She was there for five years before transferring to Liberty Public Schools in Mounds, Oklahoma. According to her LinkedIn page, Shanna has been with the school for over 23 years. Meanwhile, Stephanie is a teacher in Tennessee, where she resides with her family.
Over the years, Carrie has publicly shared her admiration for her mom and sisters’ professional lives. In July 2009, she brought recognition to the nonprofit organization Teachers Count, whose campaign that year was “Behind Every Famous Person Is a Fabulous Teacher.” The cause reunited celebrities with influential teachers from their past and Carrie chose to honor her loved ones.
“Teaching was something that ran in my family,” she said during the campaign, per The Oklahoman. “I have always admired my mother and sisters for making a difference in the lives of so many.”
They’ve supported Carrie throughout her career
Shanna and Stephanie have personally witnessed their little sister’s major accomplishments. They watched Carrie dominate the stage on American Idol, and were sitting front and center when she was crowned the winner of season 4 in 2005.
Her siblings and her parents were also there to support her at her 2018 induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Shanna and Stephanie attended the ceremony in Los Angeles and posed for photos alongside her. Carrie — who at the time was pregnant with her second son, Jacob — was also joined by her husband Mike Fisher and their son Isaiah.
Carrie and her sisters have matching tattoos with their mom
Carole and her daughters paid a Las Vegas tattoo parlor an impromptu visit while celebrating the first run of Carrie’s residency show, Reflection, in July 2023. The mother-daughter group got matching heart tattoos, and as Carrie coyly revealed on Instagram, it was all her mom’s idea.
“When your 74-year-old mother asks you and your sisters to get matching tattoos with her in Vegas, the only questions are, ‘what?’ and ‘where?’ ” she wrote alongside a family portrait with their new ink.
While Carole and her two oldest daughters chose to get the tattoo on the inside of their wrists, Carrie opted for the small heart to go on the top of her right foot. In another snap, they smiled and huddled close together in what appeared to be a waiting room.
“I never would’ve thought I’d see the day that Mama Carole would be gettin’ some ink! 😂❤️ #WhatHappensInVegas,” the country singer continued. “Thanks, @darekriley for being so sweet to the Underwood girls! ❤️.”
Their parents have been married for over five decades
The sister trio have a pair of role models for navigating the ups and downs of marriage and family life — their parents tied the knot on April 21, 1968, and recently celebrated 55 years of marriage.
In 2018, Carrie and her sisters gathered together to celebrate their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. The “Church Bells” singer shared several photos on Instagram, including one of her parents cutting a two-tier wedding cake decorated in gold icing and flowers. In another snap, the pair share a sweet kiss.
“Today, we celebrated my parents’ 50th anniversary … We listened to stories of how they met and their first years together … the good Lord sure did bless them … and us! ❤️❤️❤️ I think these crazy kids are gonna make it!” she wrote alongside the images.