After selling more than a million tickets to her last concert tour, Carrie Underwood is aiming higher this time.
Really high. She plans to fly over the audience, for starters.
"We're kind of going for broke on this one just because I feel like it's time," Underwood said in an interview this week. "At this point, the only thing it's about is putting on a great show and we're going out with that in mind. I definitely think we have delivered."
Underwood's "Play On Tour" opens Thursday in Reading, Pa., with more than 50 dates in the United States and Canada planned through June.
The former "American Idol" winner, who turned 27 on Wednesday, wanted to follow the success of her third platinum-selling album, "Play On," with something dynamite for her fans. She's set a record with 11 straight No. 1 country singles and now feels she has a set list meaty enough to support something spectacular.
"As far as things getting bigger, it's just that - the stage is bigger, there are more lights, there's more tricks up our sleeve," Underwood said. "We have a lot of moving parts on the stage. I kind of get to fly over the audience. It's really cool. It's just a lot of stuff. My band's great, wardrobe's great. It's just more. It's all of the bells and whistles and sprinkles on the cupcake."
Underwood made 137 stops on her 2008 tour to support "Carnival Ride." More than 1.2 million fans attended, putting her in elite company.
Her "Play On" proves her elite status as well. The album opened at No. 1 and has so far sold more than 1.3 million copies, bringing her to more than 11 million albums sold since 2005.
Those are all heady numbers, but as she's grown more successful Underwood says she's learned to let go of the statistics.
"I remember in the beginning it was like, 'How many did I sell this week? How many people are going to be here?"' Underwood said. "It was all about numbers and to be honest now I don't even look at anything because I'm happy. When I see numbers it either makes me happy or brings me down. I'd rather just be happy and leave it at that."
Underwood is taking a similar Zen-like approach with planning her wedding to Mike Fisher of the NHL's Ottawa Senators. Trying to plan a tour and wedding at the same time could be overwhelming, but Underwood's not stressing. She's more than happy to step aside when it comes to minutiae.
"Have you ever been to a wedding where you thought how awful the tablecloths were? Probably not," Underwood said. "You probably don't even remember the tablecloths. Why get stressed out about little things like that? But I do have a planner and she knows that she's going to be making a lot of decisions on her own. If you give me choice A, B or C, I can pick one, but I don't care."
The couple got engaged shortly before Christmas and have set a date that they hope to keep private. Underwood says they haven't even told family and friends in an effort to keep unwelcome cameras away.
"Not to say even anybody would care to show up, but just in case," Underwood said. "Like anybody you deserve to get married and have a great day as people. I'm not going to be Carrie Underwood the entertainer walking down the aisle. I'm just Carrie and I'm going to marry Mike. I feel like that's kind of a right everybody deserves to have."
By Chris Talbott