Q&A: Kristin Chenoweth

Emmy and Tony Award winning entertainer Kristin Chenoweth has an unstoppable spirit, and now she's sharing her prodigious gifts in a new pursuit.

Chenoweth's debut country album, Some Lessons Learned, shares her love affair with Southern culture and the music of her youth. Recorded in Nashville this spring, the album features a duet with Randy Travis and songs by Dolly Parton, Diane Warren and Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott.

Some Lessons Learned is the latest addition to an already successful career for Chenoweth, who's emerged as one of her generation's most beloved performers. She won the Emmy Award for her role on Pushing Daisies, a Tony Award for her role in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and originated the role of Glinda in Wicked. Her guest appearances on GLEE have earned her an additional two Emmy nominations. She returns to primetime television this fall with the ABC drama, Good Christian Belles.

But country music is foremost on Chenoweth's mind these days, and she discusses her connection with the genre in her interview with Out & About Newspaper.

Many might wonder why a Broadway and television star is recording a country album. What are your past experiences and favorite performers in the genre?

Yep! They do! I grew up in Oklahoma listening to the greats of country.  Dolly (Parton) was a huge influence as well as Reba (McEntire), Patsy (Cline) and Trisha (Yearwood). It has always been my inclination. I was hired as a singer at Opryland in 1988 and had the best summer of my life in Nashville. I am thrilled I finally get to do the kind of music I grew up singing.

Do you make adjustments to your performance style depending on the medium?

If I'm on stage, my actual performance might be a hair bigger for the audience. On TV, I remember it’s really a box that I am performing in. Ultimately, I just stay true to the music and lyric. You can't go wrong if you do that, whatever the medium.

Of all the different projects you've been successful in, do you have a favorite role or performance? What's the pinnacle of your career so far?

Gosh that’s a hard one. All of them are like my kids! I do love stage work. Glinda in WICKED was a one-time deal, but my favorite is an operetta role: Cundegone in Candide. She is funny and the music is hard! That was quite the challenge.

Women in country music have struggled recently to get a foothold at radio and retail. What are your own hopes and expectations for this project in a difficult market?

I have no expectations! I just wanted to do a strong record, and make something that inspire people. Of course I want radio play and to be accepted. I am a new artist in this venue. I don't expect to waltz in and take over. I do wonder why female artists are having a harder time right now. Can someone explain it to me? Some of the best artists out right now are female!

During the recording of this album, what was the most surprising development? The most enjoyable part?

The surprising element for me is no one uses music! I'm so accustomed to actual music that I had to re-learn to go with my gut and not rely on sheet music. It was freeing, and the Nashville musicians are some of the best in the world. I also loved living in Nashville while recording. I love the food. Meat and three!

Briefly describe this new album for us.

It is mostly about life lessons. Some are hard, some are great, but all of it leads to knowing and trusting yourself. And having fun! We only live once! We all might as well learn, grow and enjoy. For example, I'm learning how hard it is to type since I got these fake nails!

In addition to your new album, you'll be starring in the new ABC series, Good Christian Belles. Aside from occasional guest appearances on GLEE, your last TV role was your Emmy Award-winning turn in Pushing Daisies. What's it like to return to a regular role on primetime television?

I love being on TV. You get a new script every week and you get to continue learning and growing based on who the character is. I love the subject matter, women in the bible belt. Something I know a little bit about….

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