Pia Toscano performing on American Idol
05/26/2011 at 05:00 PM EDT
Even though she didn't make it to American Idol's final round
, Pia Toscano says her early elimination has given her an edge in getting her music out to fans.
"I kind of got a head start, and I didn't realize that," Toscano tells PEOPLE. The singer – who'll be performing the National Anthem during the live broadcast of PBS's National Memorial Day concert in Washington, D.C., on Sunday – says her exit from the show
gave her more time to focus on crafting her upcoming album.
"During my elimination there were so many things that were running through my mind," she admits. "I kept saying, 'What's going to happen with my career?' I'm looking at my parents, like 'Did I let them down?' [But] we started working right away. I've been in the studio and it's been good."
Toscano, who became known on Idol
as a power-ballad princess, describes her work in progress with famed Interscope Records producer Rodney Jerkins as "a pop album with an R&B influence."
"It's definitely going to be big ballads, but there's also going to be those fun up-tempo songs, those dancing songs," she reveals. "I feel like on the show people really only saw me in one way, and I want to show the world that I can do other things."
No official release date for the album has been set, but Toscano hopes it will be sooner than later. "We don't want to rush anything," she says. "We want to make sure that we find the perfect sound, the perfect songs. So I'm not sure when exactly, but hopefully soon."
Beyond perfecting her studio tracks, she's also sharpening her all-around performance skills, including dancing and commanding the stage.