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Marlin Levison

Country star Miranda Lambert performs in April 2012.

Miranda Lambert didn't get to be the reigning first lady of country music by sitting still.

"Touring, touring, touring," said the chart-topping singer when asked about the secret of her success.

"I love performing live and of course writing songs."

Lambert will prove her point at Rabobank Arena on May 9 when she headlines an impressive bill of country music that includes Dierks Bentley and her fiery side project, Pistol Annies. Tickets were still available earlier this week, said Ed Dorsey, the arena's assistant general manager, though he advised against waiting until the last minute.

"The show's initial on sale was one of the strongest we have had in a long time in the arena."

Lambert, 29, recently collected an armful of hardware at the Academy of Country Music Awards, including the prize for female vocalist of the year (a matching bookend to her husband Blake Shelton's corresponding award for male vocalist).

"It never gets old," Lambert said. "I love being part of this wonderful country music community and to get to participate by making records, performing for the fans, and sometimes my peers nominate me for my work. Winning is the icing on the cake; as each song I perform is special to me, so are the nominations and awards."

It's been two years since the release of Lambert's best-selling CD, "Four the Record," leaving Lambert time to channel creative energy into the Annies, also appearing on the tour. The group will showcase new material from the upcoming new CD, "Annie Up," which will be released Tuesday.

"When we first started writing together, all these words that most women want to say but never do just started spilling out," Lambert said. "We knew the songs didn't quite fit with any of our solo projects, but we also felt they were too good to not record, so we created Pistol Annies."

Lambert said the Locked & ReLoaded tour set list consists of her current hits and a collection of favorite reworked covers.

"I include songs from all four of my records, and my current single, 'Mama's Broken Heart.'"

Lambert's knack for picking material prefectly suited to her tough-but-sensitive persona resonates with women, making the singer something of a latter-day feminist. Tackling topics like domestic abuse, as she did in the song "Gunpowder & Lead," echoes the honest material recorded by traditional country music songwriters she's always admired.

"Two of my favorite songwriters are Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn. They have a no-holds-barred approach to tell real-life storytelling in their music, and their songs are timeless because of that authenticity.

"The songs that I pick from other writers to record on my albums are ones that I wish I had written because I only want to sing songs that feel real to me personally. 'The House That Built Me' is probably the best example of that. Even though I didn't have a hand in writing it, I feel like it draws on my past perfectly."

The Miranda Lambert brand soon will be seen walking across the nation -- literally -- when the singer debuts her new line of women's footwear next year. The venture marks Lambert's first foray into the world of fashion, but not business. Last year she opened her first clothing store, the Pink Pistol, in Shelton's hometown of Tishomingo, Okla.

Lambert has also become actively involved with animal rights activism through her MuttNation Foundation. Founded four years ago, the foundation raises funds for the care and shelter of abandoned and abused animals.

"I love helping animals because they are amazing companions. I have six rescue dogs; two of them (Delta and Cher) travel with me on the road, and the others are too big to be on the bus with me full time, so it's a cause that's very dear to my heart. Remember to love a shelter pet."

In addition to Lambert, Pistol Annies and Bentley, performers Randy Houser and Joanna Smith will appear at the concert.