It's been months since fans have seen Carrie Underwood's entire face in a photo.
She's offered glimpses. Her face wrapped in a scarf. Just one side of her face. A photo from far away. But with one exception, her entire face hasn't been seen in a photograph since she suffered a "gruesome" fall at home in November.
On Tuesday she reported that her face is "healing pretty nicely" as she updated fans about her health on her website. Then early Wednesday she put a cherry on the good news by releasing a new single, "Cry Pretty."
Underwood is set to make her first public appearance since the accident on Sunday when she performs the song at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
The country superstar took a "hard fall" on the stairs outside her Nashville home on Nov. 10, but didn't share details about it for weeks.
“There is also another part of the story that I haven’t been ready to talk about since I have still been living it and there has been much uncertainty as to how things will end up,” she wrote to her fan club on New Year's Day.
"In addition to breaking my wrist, I somehow managed to injure my face as well. I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but when I came out of surgery the night of my fall, the doctor told (her husband) Mike that he had put between 40 and 50 stitches in.
"When I am ready to get in front of a camera, I want you all to understand why I might look a bit different. I'm hoping that, by then, the differences are minimal, but, again, I just don't know how it's all going to end up."
Since the fall she has only shared photos of her face obscured.
Two days after Christmas, she posted a photo of her face wrapped in a scarf.
Last week she posted a picture of herself in the recording studio, one taken from one side, the other from afar as she rehearsed with her band.
The only photo of her entire post-fall face appeared on Dec. 12 when actress Adrienne Gang posted a photo of herself with Underwood. Gang added the next day: “I had no clue she was injured … she looked amazing!”
Underwood, who is married to Nashville Predators player Mike Fisher, wrote to fans this week that she's "doing pretty darn good these days. My wrist is almost back to normal, about 90% there… and the docs say that last 10% will come in time. And my face has been healing pretty nicely as well.
"I definitely feel more like myself than I have in a while. One of the silver linings for me in this healing process is the time I’ve gotten to spend with Mike and (son) Isaiah. I’ve been calling it 'forced relaxation.'
"Sometimes I think things happen in order to make us slow down. It also means I’ve been home to support my favorite hockey player coming out of retirement! I hope you’re all ready for more silly posts of me at Preds’ playoff games! One more run for the Cup! Go Preds!"
She said she wrote her new single, "Cry Pretty," with Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose and Lori McKenna, who write under the name Love Junkies.
"The title refers to when emotions take over and you just can’t hold them back," Underwood wrote. "It really speaks to a lot of things that have happened in the past year and I hope when you hear it, you can relate those feelings to those times in your life."
She added that there's talk "about a tour, but that's a blog for another day."
Noting that Underwood has been mostly absent from public view since her fall, and that the extent of her injuries are unknown and a subject of "much gossipy speculation," the song "sends a message ahead of that return: though her carefully maintained beauty is certainly a selling point, Underwood can only be as pretty as circumstances (and, perhaps, a top medical team) allow," writes NPR music critic Ann Powers.
"And besides, it's the voice that matters, not the look."
The ACM Awards air at 7 p.m. Sunday on CBS.