Street Date Interview: Kristin Chenoweth Talks About Country Music, Glee, and New Album “Some Lessons Learned”
“I’m a lifer. I wouldn’t even know what I would do if you said I can’t sing anymore.” Long before the TV shows (Glee, Pushing Daisies to name two) and the Broadway blockbusters (anyone seen Wicked?), young Kristin Chenoweth just wanted to be a singer. A country singer, to be precise. Raised on a steady diet of Patsy Cline, Randy Travis and Dolly Parton, she made her public singing debut reciting the national anthem at a local rodeo near her hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. So it should come as no surprise that Chenoweth’s new album Some Lessons Learned is a country record through-and-through.
Join us as we chat with Chenoweth about her country roots, her various TV and stage roles, and touch on topics like faith, creative inspiration, and (fingers-crossed) upcoming tour dates.
Our interview with Kristin Chenoweth went something like this:
Street Date: How did your new album get its name?
Kristen Chenoweth: It’s called Some Lessons Learned. Diane Warren wrote a song called “Lessons Learned” and when you listen to the whole record it kind of makes sense because it’s more about hope than lost love. Certainly I’ve been hurting and been hurt and all that stuff and a lot of country music comes from those wonderful emotions that we feel but this is a little bit more hopeful and inspirational and I’m really proud of it. It is the record that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time and so here I am doing it.
SD: Have you always been a country music fan?
Chenoweth: Well I grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and honestly those kinds of singers like [lastfm]Patsy Cline[/lastfm], especially Dolly Parton, Randy Travis – those were the big influences I had musically. I think my first time ever to sing was the national anthem at a rodeo. My very first musical influence was country music.
SD: Those are some legit country credentials. Do people know you’ve always been into country?
Chenoweth: Well thank you. I know people are always surprised. I don’t know how many people [saw] Glee when they had me sing Carrie Underwood‘s “Last Name.” I think Carrie is just one-of-a-kind and there is just one of her, she is so amazing. But I wanted to try to put my own spin on that song and I felt pretty good about it and it shot up the iTunes charts to #2. So Diane Warren called me and said “you’ve got to do this country album.“
SD: You got to work with some real heavy hitters in the country music world on this album – care to name any names?
Chenoweth: I [was] lucky enough to record and sing and write with some of Nashville’s best. I got to write two songs and Victoria Shaw, who is country music royalty, wrote two songs. Hillary Scott (of Lady Antebellum) wrote a song and Gary Burr and Jodie Marr. These are people that in that world are at the top.
SD: Carrie Underwood’s song “Last Name” is kind of a risqué song – do you go into any of that territory on the album?
Chenoweth: You know, mainly I don’t. But that is because mainly I wanted to pick songs that spoke to me where I am at in my life. You may or may not know my age but when I am doing “Last Name” as April Rhodes on Glee, it’s fitting for that character because she is a hot mess. But Kristy Chenoweth is not a hot mess. However, I’ve learned a lot from these years of growth and this journey I’ve been on so far.
SD: Are you going on tour after the album comes out?
Chenoweth: I’m starting a new TV show called Good Christian Bells which is a comedy and it’s really funny. As soon as I get my hiatus from that, we’ve got a list of about 20 cities including London and Australia that I will play. To be honest, I am just living for it. I cannot wait to do this live.
SD: You’ve been described recently as the busiest woman in show business. Does it feel that way?
Chenoweth: Haha yeah it does but I don’t think I would have it any other way… I am a lifer. I wouldn’t even know what I would do if you said I can’t sing anymore. Honestly I pray and when I pray I think “Lord if you take anything away from me please just don’t take my voice.” That is a gift that I cannot give up. I can’t do math, I can’t drive too well, I drive way too fast but I love to sing and I’m decent at it. How many people get to say they get paid to do what they love to do? I don’t say I have to go to work, I say I get to.
This is the full track listing for Some Lessons Learned:
1. I Was Here
2. I Want Somebody (Bitch About)
3. Fathers and Daughters
4. What Would Dolly Do?
5. God and Me
7. What More Do You Want?
8. Wreck You
9. I Didn t
10. Borrowed Angels
11. What If We Never?
12. Mine to Love