updated 09/05/2008 AT 9:15 AM ET
•originally published 09/05/2008 AT 10:45 AM ET
You’d think Jessica Simpson would be an old pro at performing. But at the Nashville listening party for her new country album, Do You Know, on Thursday night, the singer was just a bit freaked out.
“I’m a little nervous,” said Simpson to a crowd of nearly 200 record industry folks at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. “If I throw up, I’m sorry.”
Brushing her blonde hair from her face, she continued: “Thank you so much for coming and for giving me a chance. I hope you get to experience what my heart’s been going through the last few years.”
Backed by a band of three acoustic guitars, a bongo player and a barefoot fiddler, Simpson introduced each song with an emotional story of her own experiences with abusive relationships, true love and healing.
Leading into “Remember That,” Simpson urged women “in that [abusive] situation to take their hearts and run.”
She later smiled tearfully to her preacher dad Joe Simpson and mom Tina in the audience while explaining that “Pray Out Loud” is a song about faith and family.
And before the bittersweet song, “Sippin’ on History,” Simpson said, “It’s about a relationship in my life that could have been a fairy tale, but wasn’t.”
Simpson got warm applause after each song. But she seemed most proud of something else entirely.
“I didn’t throw up!” Simpson exclaimed at the end of her set.
Before leaving the stage to schmooze and mingle, Simpson reminded everyone that the album’s release date is September 9.
“That’s lucky number nine!” she said as a shout-out to her quarterback boyfriend, Tony Romo – whom Simpson called the “love of my life” in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE – who wears 9 on his Dallas Cowboys jersey.
Simpson makes her Grand Ole Opry debut Saturday night with Loretta Lynn and Patty Loveless, to be televised live on GAC at 9 p.m. EST.