Lynda Carter began singing with a band in high school long before she won Miss World USA 1972, starred on television as Wonder Woman and was voted the most beautiful woman in the world by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organization. When she resumed her vocal career after raising a family, some of her TV fans were astounded to discover she was an accomplished singer as well as an actress. They quickly learned that her rich voice and entertaining personality captivate the moment she steps onstage.

This week, she returns to the Kennedy Center in "From the Heart," a cabaret program of songs she has chosen to showcase her love of variety and the talents of the musicians in her band.

"There will be lots of surprises," she said. "Every year, we like to add new material, so I'm very excited about the numbers we're doing. There are a couple of Bruce Springsteen pieces, 'I'm on Fire' and 'Dust in the Wind,' that are lots of fun with our great percussionist and Grammy Award winner, Luis Conte. He has toured with Phil Collins, James Taylor, Madonna and many others.

"Because these musicians in my band are the best in the business, we're always trying new things. In addition to Luis, my saxophonist, Lou Marini, is a jazz artist who composes, arranges and was a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, the "Saturday Night Live" house band and the original Blues Brothers band. My drummer, Paul Leim, has played on many gold and platinum albums, my guitarist played on the Grand Ole Opry, and my three backup singers have worked with everyone from Reba to Aretha. In all, we'll have 10 people onstage. Before going to Washington, we're playing at the Catalina Club in LA, and after Washington we'll perform once again at Jazz at Lincoln Center."

Lynda Carter
» Where: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
» When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
» Info: $25 to $65; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

For the past two decades, Carter's primary focus has been her family, and her pride swells when she talks about her children. Her son, a second-year law student at Georgetown, was made the senior project editor of the school's law review and will be working this summer an associate for a firm in Washington. Her daughter took her junior year in London last year and will graduate this May from the University of Michigan. Like her father and brother, she plans to head for law school and -- ultimately -- a career with a business connection.

"They're wonderful people and a joy to be around," Carter said. "Now that they have left the nest, I can do some of the things I put aside while they were young."

Taking a cue from the success of her "Crazy Little Things" concerts and album of the same name, Carter is considering recording the numbers she sings in "From the Heart," but that is just one item on her to-do list. As an activist, she has always been an advocate for children, pro-choice rights for women, legal equality for LGBT people, civil rights for all and other important causes that touch her. The recent death of her mother, an Alzheimer's victim, has focused her attention on that disease.

Carter immerses herself in everything she does. When she and the band meet in Nashville, Tenn., to put together a show, they collaborate on each aspect, from choice of music to the arrangements. Because she is a hands-on participant, her shows reflect her personality from the opening note to the encore.

"When it comes to choosing music, I'm not big on themes," she said. "Each show consists pretty much of songs I want to do. Working with a group of top-notch musicians who are willing to try new things is the key.

"It's fun sharing music I love with friends and fans in an intimate cabaret setting, so I always look forward to performing at the Kennedy Center. Later on in the summer, I'll perform in the Poconos and at Fire Island. It's important to roll along, enjoy life, stay in shape, and especially to do what you love."