With her focus on finishing her fourth album, recording some killer duets and co-hosting the CMA Awards for the fourth year in a row, Carrie Underwood hasn't had many opportunities to perform live in 2011. However, the country star tells Billboard.com that the lineup for the inaugural iHeartradio Music Festival, which kicked off last night (Sept. 23) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, drew her to the desert to perform hits like "Undo It" and 'Before He Cheats."
"This was just such a cool thing. The lineup -- when they had half the people on there, they asked if I wanted to be a part, and I was like, 'Um, yeah!'" Underwood told Billboard.com on the red carpet. With artists like Jay-Z, Coldplay, Lady Gaga and another "American Idol" winner, Kelly Clarkson, taking the stage on Friday and Saturday, Underwood professed, "I would love to be your average joe in the audience tonight and tomorrow night."
Underwood has devoted time this year to joining artists like Brad Paisley (for the hit single"Remind Me") and Tony Bennett (for the "Duets II" track "It Had To Be You") in the studio. The singer has also been hammering out new solo material, and gave a quick update on the follow-up to her 2009 album "Play On" after saying earlier this month that her fourth effort was about halfway finished.
"I've recorded vocals [for] six songs thus far," she says. "It's all about just making the best album that I possibly can. New songs are coming in all the time -- I'm still writing, and I've recently written some stuff I'm really, really excited about, so just throwing it all in the mix and seeing what comes out on top, because I really just really really want to go for it this time."
Before she releases her next album, the 2005 "American Idol" winner will help honor country's biggest stars at the Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 9. While artists like Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean will perform, Underwood will co-host the ceremony with Paisley, the reigning Entertainer of the Year winner.
"We've been kind of texting different ideas back and forth," she says of brainstorming with Paisley for the show. "We're gonna start working on our promos, our commercials and stuff, and it's gonna be good. We haven't had any big sit-down meetings yet, but we will."