Kristin Chenoweth Talks Country Album, the Anniversary of 9/11 and the Future of April Rhodes on ‘Glee’
Broadway, cinema, TV and now country radio. Kristin Chenoweth is well on her way to total entertainment domination. The diminutive mostly-actress is one of the hottest acts in New York and Hollywood right now, but she insists she's still just a small town girl from Oklahoma. Don't be skeptical. During an interview with Taste of Country, Chenoweth was anything but a diva. She fought off sniffles, repeatedly referred to her place as a "new artist," and said of her recent media blitz: "I'm so sick of me!"
There are still shadows of an Oklahoma accent in Chenoweth's patter, but one better picks up her true personality in the stories she tells, like those about this week's 10th anniversary of 9/11, and making her parents proud at the Grand Ole Opry. She says she's excited for people to hear what she has to say when her new album, 'Some Lessons Learned,' hits Target and iTunes today, and she can't wait to play April Rhodes on 'Glee' again. Unfortunately, she's not sure if she'll get the chance.
You were in New York City on Sunday for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Describe what it was like to drive or walk around the city.
It was awesome. Last year I sang at the memorial at Ground Zero. I flew in on the red-eye, actually, on Saturday night after the [Creative Arts] Emmys. I had rehearsal with my band yesterday and we passed several firehouses. And to look at them and see that 10 years later, we’re stronger than ever, to see these guys standing with pride outside their fire station -- it made me smile. It’s an odd reaction to have on a day like that but I was so proud. I’ve never been prouder to be an American and even more so a New Yorker.
A lot of people felt the same way because you remember the terrible grief but you also remember how the country pulled together.
Yeah, we did. I was obviously in New York when it happened, and people were just like so there for each other. I remember a woman walking with soot all over her. And she said, "I lost my purse, and I’m trying to find my child at the kindergarten down there." And I just remember me and my friend just threw money at her and we stopped a cab -- it already had like five people in it -- told them what was going on, and people got out of the cab so she could get back down there and find her child.
How are you feeling about this week's album release? Nervous?
Oh gosh, I’m so ready. I just want it to come out. I want people to hear what I have to sayand the way I do it is through music, so I’m very excited and nervous. It’s a very personal thing when you release an album. Two of the songs I co-wrote, so you know, you’re putting yourself out there as a singer and a songwriter. But I also believe in the songs.
Did you search for a deeper personal connection to these songs than those you sing on Broadway or in musicals?
I always think it’s important to connect. If it’s Broadway, if it’s rap, if it’s country, if it’s opera, even -- I do that as well -- so I wouldn’t even entertain doing a song that didn’t speak to me. All the songs were chosen extremely carefully by me. The sound is something that comes very naturally to me, growing up in Oklahoma. That’s what I listened to. But great music is great music ... people ask me all the time, "What do you prefer, stage or TV or film?" To me, it’s the same. If it’s a character or even as myself in a concert, I love it. I don’t look at it different.
Are there any songs on the album that you were a little nervous to share?
Yeah, there’s a song I wrote called ‘Mine to Love.’ It is a very personal song. It's about being in love with someone that you shouldn’t have. I know a lot of people can relate to that, and I’m one of them, and that’s why I wrote it. And, I hope people don’t judge me [laughs].
The song ‘I Didn’t’ is a breakup song. Do you think of a specific man when you sing it?
It’s basically about being with a narcissist. The guy loves himself a lot. It’s really funny. It shows my personality, but the basic crux of it is: what finally tore our love apart was a matter of religion. He thought he was God, but I didn’t.
They’re using your Emmy acceptance speech in the advertisments for this year’s campaign.
I saw that! I was so honored. I was like, "Oh my God, they didn’t forget. I did win! I actually did win!" Sometimes I have to watch it just to make sure I won.
Have you picked out your dress, shoes and date for this Sunday’s Emmys?
Well, I am gonna be playing the Grand Ole Opry. The Emmy that I was nominated for, for guest star on ‘Glee’ was at the -- well, Kathy Griffin calls them the Shmemmys -- the Creative Arts Emmys. I didn’t win. Gwyneth Paltrow rightfully so won, and I was just so honored to be nominated, but I already went. I wore Zac Posen and Louis Vuitton shoes and they were beautiful [laughs].
Talk about the upcoming Grand Ole Opry performance. Have you played that stage before?
This is a really big deal for me, and for my family too. I’ve played concert halls all over the world. Carnegie Hall, he Met, you don’t get better than that -- it’s just amazing. When I told my parents I was playing the Opry, they freaked out [laughs]. That kind of tells you about my family. The Opry, it’s like a bucket list for me. It’s a big honor. The thing about the Grand Ole Opry is you have to be asked to do it. So I take that as a compliment that they are sort of enjoying the new country record.
What’s the plan for ‘Glee’ this season? Do you know how many episodes you’ll be in?
You know April Rhodes is a hot mess and we love to watch her. If Ryan Murphy decides to write for her, ummm, yeah. I’m there. But it’s just not up to me. I’ve already begged on national TV during the Emmys for a job, so I don’t know what else I can do. I’m doing a new show for ABC called ‘Good Christian Belles.' But ‘Glee’ remains so close to my heart, and if I never get to play her again, she was probably the most fun I’ve ever had. Hopefully April never goes to rehab and she’s always, you know, drinking Franzia.
Watch the Kristin Chenoweth 'I Want Somebody' Video