Kristin Chenoweth on her New Album — It's One 'For the Girls'

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 27, 2019

Kristin Chenoweth is heading back to Broadway in November for a one-week engagement to celebrate her newest album, "For the Girls." Due out September 27, the album is Chenoweth's tribute to the great female artists who have influence her Tony-winning career.

"I really wanted to pay homage to all the women singers who have influenced me over the years," Ms. Chenoweth said in a press release. "I wanted to make something that men could also enjoy, but this is by the girls and for the girls. I wanted to pay homage to these women and do them proud, but I also wanted to put my own stamp on it. And I think I was able to do that."

It was 20-years ago that Chenoweth won her Tony for appeared in the 1999 Broadway revival of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown." At the time New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote a review that was a love letter to the actress. Playing 5-year old Sally (a role not in the original off-Broadway production), Brantley called Chenoweth "terrifically appealing... Watching her here is what it must have been like to catch a novice named Bernadette Peters lighting up a musical spoof called ''Dames at Sea'' 30 years ago. Ms. Chenoweth has appeared in New York before, most notably in 'Steel Pier' and Encores' concert version of 'Strike Up the Band,' but this is the part that should seal her reputation. This glow cast by a star-in-the-making gives a real Broadway magic to a show that otherwise feels sadly shrunken in a Times Square theater."

Next came "Wicked" (where she debuted the role of Galinda), followed by a series of high-profile musical revivals ("The Apple Tree," "Promises, Promises" and "On the Twentieth Century.") that established Crenoweth's place in the top-tier of musical theater stars in the 21st century. Television followed, with roles on hits such as "The West Wing," "Ugly Betty," "Glee" and "The Good Wife," as well as such cult favorites as "Pushing Daisies" and "GCB." For her role on "Pushing Daisies," she won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2009.

Known primarily as a comedienne, Chenoweth trained as classically trained coloratura soprano who in 2003 made her concert debut at the Metropolitan Opera. She has also over the past 18 years released six studio albums, each was different from the next — one focused on Broadway standards; another inspirational songs; and a third celebrated Christmas. Her country-inspired album featured songs by Diane Warren, Dolly Parton and Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott (along with some original compositions); a live album captured her return to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where she grew up; and another offered her jazz takes on the Great American Songbook.

But upon completing "The Art of Elegance," she immediately felt she needed to something completely different. The result became "For the Girls," which is scheduled for release on September 27, an album in which Chenoweth celebrates some of her favorite singers (Barbra Streisand, Patsy Cline, Judy Garland and Carole King) — with duets with such artists as Ariana Grande, Dolly Parton, Jennifer Hudson, and Reba McEntire in some of them.

EDGE spoke to Chenoweth about the CD, her career and her support of LGBTQ issues.

'What's next?'

EDGE: How did the idea for this album evolve?

Kristin Chenoweth: As soon as I released my last album, "The Art of Elegance," I was already asking myself, "What's next?" I always do this weird thing where I write down songs that I want to sing, in no particular order, just what's on my mind what's on my heart. It is quite a list. I was able to narrow it down with the help of my producer, Steve Tyrell. After looking at the songs, there were a lot of women who are singer / songwriters who have influenced me. Then we went into the recording studio and just started recording them. The songs that made it feel like a "thank you" to the women who came before me. The first thought was to name the album "For the Women," but that didn't feel right, so it became "For the Girls." It's really a happy accident. Women are having a renaissance, and a moment.

EDGE: When choosing the songs for the album, was there a certain message that you were looking for?

Kristin Chenoweth: I like vulnerability. Vulnerability is not to be confused with being a victim. For example, my mom wore out the "Tapestry" album from Carole King. I was reviewing the words to "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and I thought, does it sound like she is the victim? And no, she does not. The song is about a woman asking another person if he or she will still love me. Just because we are tough and successful doesn't mean that matters of the heart should be forsaken. I wanted to have that represented on the record. I also wanted to pay homage to human moments when someone has hurt us, it wouldn't suck to watch someone hurt them. I loved Edie Gorme's "I Wanna Be Around" even though it is not a well-known song. I didn't take this project lightly, I've been working on this album for a year and a half.

Singing with Dolly

EDGE: Is there a point in the recording process when you say, "This song is not going to work?"

Kristin Chenoweth: Oh yes! I am so glad that you asked me that. I was nervous about doing Patsy Cline because I can do a dead-on impression of her and it's important that I don't do that when I am singing. I want to do phrases, breaths and certain things to tip my hat to these awesome women, but I also have to put my own stamp on it. The hardest song for me to do on this record was "Crazy." While recording it, I could only hear her singing. Steve told me to stop listening to her, so I stopped listening to the song. I was determined not to do it, then about six months later I revisited it. It was the hardest one to come to terms with, but emotionally I figured it out and was able to do it. Every note that she sang was a money note.

EDGE: Who were you most nervous about singing with?

Kristin Chenoweth: Who do you think? Dolly! Growing up and loving her and being compared to her my entire life. I didn't set out to be a music theatre performer; I wanted to be a country / gospel music singer like her. I have always wanted to sing with her. I first suggested "Here You Come Again" as the song we sing together because I love that song. She said if I do this, I have to sing something that I wrote. When I think about why she wrote "I Will Always Love You," I could believe she took a bet on me. She outdid herself on this version with me. If it all ended tomorrow, then I am good.

Being a gay icon

EDGE: You're a gay icon. Does this conflict in anyway with your religious upbringing?

Kristin Chenoweth: Of course! I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church, in the Bible Belt of Oklahoma. I was raised to believe, "Hate the sin, love the sinner" in church; but at home my parents were accepting of everybody. I couldn't understand how my gay friend was damned to hell, I asked my grandmother. She said, "Well, Kris, I read the Bible like I eat fish: I take the meat, and it serves me well, but I don't choke on the bone."

EDGE: Thanks for being an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community. What drew you to help stand up for the rights of our community?

Kristin Chenoweth: I believe everyone has the right to love whomever they want, and no person should be discriminated against because of sexual orientation or preference. I will continue to support the LGBT until my dying breath.

EDGE: You are starring in your first Hallmark film "A Christmas Love Story." What is it like being part of the Hallmark Channel's annual "Countdown to Christmas?"

Kristin Chenoweth: I can't wait for you all to watch it. I love Christmas time! It is one of my favorite times of the year. I turn my television on the moment the Hallmark's "Countdown to Christmas" begins, so I was very excited to be part of the Hallmark channel family.

EDGE: What can you tell us about your upcoming PBS concert performance with the Tabernacle Choir?

Kristin Chenoweth: Growing up there were only three channels to watch and the shows that I loved watching every year were the Miss America pageant, the Tony's, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. I am glad I got to do it! Before performing, I did have a talk with them regarding where I stand on gay rights. For me, it was an opportunity to have an open and direct conversation with them regarding my stand. We should never pass up an opportunity.

'For The Girls' will be released on September 27. For more information on Kristin visit, visit Kristin Chenoweth's website.


Also in Entertainment

An Enemy of the People

Read More »

Comments on Facebook