Six years after wowing the crowd with her rendition of “America the Beautiful” at Super Bowl XLV, Lea Michele is heading back to Texas for the annual event this weekend — and with a little less pressure.
“It was literally one of the most incredible moments of my entire life, so I’m excited to go back,” the Scream Queens star, 30, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I’m obviously not performing this time … it’s nice having a little bit of a breather to just enjoy the game.”
Heading to Houston with some pals, the actress and singer is rooting for the Patriots. “I’m a New Yorker, but I’ve always been a Patriots fan,” she says. “Tom Brady’s an incredible athlete. He will go down probably in my generation as one of the greatest athletes that I’ll get to see.”
But something that’s exciting Michele just as much as seeing her favorite football team possibly take the championship? Singing and dancing along with Taylor Swift as the super star headlines DirecTV Now’s Super Saturday Night concert.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that Taylor Swift music isn’t blasted in my house. Right now, her new song with Zayn … if I play it one more time, I might combust,” jokes the star. “I love her. I was just talking to Emma Roberts about her the other day and we were reading the inside of her booklet for Red, and she has this amazing little excerpt she wrote inside about different kinds of love. She’s really an amazing songwriter and her music is just the best girl music ever.”
Michele herself has been busy lately promoting her upcoming album, Places, which features some of her most personal music yet.
“[My] first record had a little bit of a heaviness to it and was obviously more of a pop-heavy record,” she explains. “For this one, I really just kind of went back to my roots and the music I grew up listening to. Where I’m at in my life right now, which is in a really happy, positive and inspired place, I wanted all of that to really reflect in my music.”
While Michele hasn’t officially confirmed the more personal songs on her new album were inspired by her late boyfriend Cory Monteith, fans who attended her recent series of intimate performances have been buzzing about tracks like “Getaway Car” and “Hey You.”
“Obviously I have a very strong connection to the songs that I was able to co-write on. ‘Hey You,’ which is the last track on the album, is very personal and important to me,” she says. “I think at the end of the day, a lot of people want a direct sort of ‘in’ into our personal lives as actors and as people in this industry, and it’s hard sometimes. It’s so important to create an appropriate level of privacy, but I’ve always said my opportunity and my space to let my fans in who supported me for so long would be through my music. That’s our time to make that connection.”