(SD) 1. Thanks for the chat. It’s great to catch up with you! Let’s discuss your brand new record, “Some Lessons Learned.” You grew up singing Country and Gospel right?!?
It is my pleasure Christian! Yeah, that is kind of how it all started for me. I grew up in Oklahoma, as a lot of people know. Some of my biggest influences in country music were stars like; Trisha Yearwood, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, and of course there was the Christian musicians, Sandy Patti and Amy Grant. Those were the early influences in my life, so I wanted to make sure that I did an album that was reminiscent of my growing up. I am so happy I got to do it, I really am.
(SD) 2. What does this album tell us about you as an artist and a woman at this stage in your life?
I was just saying yesterday to my music director, we were talking about this album and he said, "How did this album start?" The question I'm asked most often is, "How did you get to be where you are today?" I think there is a misconception that I just kind of woke up yesterday and it all happened overnight but the truth is I’ve been working a long time at my craft and my voice.
I had a wonderful teacher in college and was taught how to utilize my voice in many different ways because it was there. One of the gifts I was given was doing a lot of different things with my voice. So, more than not vocally and musically, I wanted people to understand that not everything is great and wonderful in person and life and those bad times help us to inform our lives, whether we want to go through them or not.
All of the songs were chosen by me for specific reasons. The "glass half empty, half full" is the real question. Yes, I've had a lot of great stuff so far, but I have so much more to do and so much more where I want to grow. I want to continue to grow as a woman, as a Christian, and as an artist. I know that not all of that comes back with just the good stuff. In order to get the good stuff you’ve got to have the bad times; that is what this album is, it’s been a bumpy road, but a good one. (Laughs)
(SD) 3. What was your mental approach like going into the studio to record the album, were you nervous?
I’m nervous the first day because I want to do great, but what I realize is now that I'm on my fourth album, “Yea that would be perfect, it's not reality, it's not life and you shouldn't be.” I wanted to go in and I got to record this in Nashville and be relaxed and away from every other aspect of my business and just focus on my music; that was a real gift. I do a lot of different things, as you know, I don't always get the quiet time I needed, so when I was there it was a real fulfilling time in my life; I just enjoyed it and I relaxed. I remember all the musicians in my life that influenced me to this point and a lot of them are country music people. It was good to be there and it also felt like home to me because I grew up in Oklahoma which is very similar. It was a real gift; I was surprised I got to even make this album because I am known as more of an opera classical/jazz singer so to get to go back to where it all started for me was a blessing.
(SD) 4. You’re hitting the road this summer for your first ever concert tour, what can fans expect and do you have any exciting sneak-peeks that you can reveal?
One of the things that I am lucky to do is that I get to do a lot of different kinds of music and I love to entertain. Fans can know that they're going to be taken away for two hours out of their life and hopefully forget their problems and their worries and just laugh and be surprised. There is opera, country, musical theater and gospel in this show. That is going to be the biggest reward and challenge for me because that means that I have to sing in a lot of different ways. They are going to get all of it, not just a person up there behind a guitar and piano playing, it's going to be a full on show with dancers and singers and all kinds of stuff.
(SD) 5. What are you looking forward to most to about performing in a concert setting rather than the Broadway stage as you have done for most of your career?
I've been blessed. I have gotten to do a lot of concerts all over the world, but I haven't done a tour, quote unquote, committed time wise to a tour. That is why this is so important for me to do at this point in my life because I have to do that, this is what I do, this is what I love to do. I will get to go all over the United States and meet fans that I have not gotten the chance to say hi to and I am going to really be housing time on the bus, it will be a first for me. I did Phantom of the Opera in Germany and we traveled by bus, but this will be a first time that I am on the bus with my musicians and I am just going to have a good time. You know, you’re here once; it might as well be fun! (Laughs)
(SD) 6. You previously starred in a show called GCB; can you address and explain the basis of the show to your critics? I understand it mocked the “hypocrisy” of people rather than “Christianity.” Is that true?
Yeah, I would never do anything that made fun of my faith. I think there were controversies, especially in the beginning because people thought that it might be blasphemous, but I think the people who watched the show understood what it was about and that it was a comedy and it was fun and it was funny and it was supposed to be funny!! We were certainly not poking fun of Jesus or the Lord, but rather having fun with the background being church. Some of my most wonderful times have been in a church and honestly, some of the toughest times have been at church. Just because you’re Christian doesn't mean you're perfect and you don't sin or do or say the wrong thing that is what our show was about; Christians are people too.
(SD) 7. How has your upbringing as a Christian shaped you into the person who you are today and why is your faith important to you?
I'm so happy that my parents are Christian because I have benefited in my life from my faith. I have had a lot of ups and downs Christian, and I have learned a lot, tough lessons; they were great lessons and tough lessons!! It hasn't been all roses contrary to popular belief. I am positive without my faith in the Lord, and this is just what I believe, this is not what everybody in the world believes, but without my faith I don't know that I would still even be here.
I have been benefited and loved being raised the way I was raised. I have such loyalty to my family and I love people, I don't love all people like I should, but I do love people and getting to say that I am Christian and showing people that not all Christians are the same, we are not all the same. In other words, there are many different types of Muslims and not all of them fly planes into buildings, same with Christianity.
I am very conservative but I am also pretty liberal (Laughs). So it is an interesting dichotomy, the position that I never thought I would be in, but because I have a platform, the one under protest I didn't understand that would be one of my purposes in life was to say, "Hey, as a Christian I also believe that people who love each other should be allowed to be married." It's a very controversial thing. I NEVER wanted to be that figure. I would rather have a root canal than have an argument with anyone or a debate, but as life goes on, as I grow and evolve as a person, as a Christian, as an artist, as a woman, I realize not everybody believes, is born and has the same faith as I do and that we should all love one another. That is the biggest message of Christianity.
As a Christian if you don't do that, then why are you saying that you are one? I could talk about this topic for a long time, but the main thing is to love one another and that’s it. That's why we're here, to help and love one another. I’m not perfect and I’ve made tons of mistakes, but I do know why we are supposed to be here and why we are all here. We are supposed to get along and we have got to get along as people!! That is what God wants for us.
Enjoy Part II of our exclusive interview with Kristin Chenoweth below:
(SD) 8. So I hear you’re a huge fan of Dolly Parton and have a desire to portray her. Those are some pretty big shoes and big hair to fill among “other” things!! (Laughs) Why do you think that you are the best one to play the role?
I don't know that I'm the best one. A few years back, probably ten now, I sang at something she was singing at too and she came up to me and she said, "You're just like me." I could have just died and gone to heaven right there and I didn't even need to continue on. Then a few years ago she was on David Letterman and she said that I was the one that she saw doing it. So then it became, “What do you think Kristin?" and I said, "Yes I want to do it!!" I have to tell you that I definitely relate to her on many levels, I respect her; I think that she has a very giving and open spirit. She understands sacrifice and all the things that it takes to make it in this business as an entertainer. She is also an incredibly smart business woman and I would like to think I am too. I would love the opportunity to do her; I’m not getting any younger so she better hurry up and write the sucker if she's going to do it. (Laughs) I'm lacking a couple of things, but I could go to
(SD) 9. Having been blessed with a very versatile career in television, music, film and theater, how do you manage each individual role and what keeps them unique for you? Is there anything that you can’t do?
Oh God! I can't answer if there's anything I can't do role wise because I have so carefully chosen what I've done along the way. I’ve stayed pretty true to my heart and I did things that speak to me, if it doesn't speak to you, why do it? Maybe it will speak to somebody else and that’s why they’re going to do it. I can't balance my checkbook, I'm not a great driver and I shop too much, these are the things that I do. I know I'm an entertainer, that's what I was born to do and I want to just be great at it, always! I’ll probably die working on something, I’ll die singing and that would make me so happy to go that way.
(SD) 10. Out of all the Broadway shows that you have been a part of, which are a few of your very favorites that come to mind and what do you cherish from those experiences?
Oh goodness, you know, in 1999 I won a Tony Award for "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown and I played a 5 year-old frustrated little girl, Sally and I loved her because I was a little sister myself. That moment in time for me they say, "When you made it." I always do everything as if it is so important so it will never happen that way like that again. It was a very special time in my life and my life changed quickly so that part definitely stands out. I think a lot of people will be disappointed if I didn't say "Wicked." I'm so happy I was part of something that spoke to so many people and I mean of all different types; ages, races, it was all over the map. I think that is the key to hit success, to speak to just about everybody. Those two are pretty strong stage roles that come to mind for me.
(SD) 11. Speaking of the arts, what are your feelings about the arts being pulled from our schools and why do you feel that it is so important to keep them?
It is so upsetting because I had choir and drama in Broken Arrow Senior High, granted it wasn’t cool to be in there but I didn’t care. (Laughs) I don't think that people understand who are doing the yanking of the funds just how many successful people and I don't mean financially, I just mean richly aborted in their lives like creativity and some of that is smart by being in the Glee Club or being in a play. Somebody might want to be work behind the scenes because they discover that that is their talent or gift and it makes me obviously very sad to me because I am a creative individual and I want other children to have the playground to feel creative. When we take that away, we are taking the creativity of our children away and that is a real big problem and it’s a real big issue. It’s one that I don't feel people even understand how big of an issue it is yet. I keep plugging along and keep saying it in hopes that it will change because I can't imagine not being able to have choir or drama in high school, I just can't imagine it and yet that is what's happening. I pray that it changes and that is all you can do and talk about it; awareness.
(SD) 12. What’s the best piece of advice that you learned early on in your pursuit to becoming a Broadway star and do you still abide by it today?
Yes, it's a very simple one that we have all heard a thousand times and that is, "Be yourself" because you can't compete with other people. You certainly can't compete with other women; if I had listened to people along the way there should be no reason that I had ever any success at all. I’m 4’11, I sound like Betty Boop and I look like an ingénue but I'm a character woman. I think you have to be yourself; you can't compete with other people. You have to compete with yourself. That's it, that's the best advice!!
(SD) 13. You’ve graced many prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic, The Greek Theatre in LA and Metropolitan Opera House, how do you maintain your sense of reality when taking part in these historic events that very few have the chance to achieve?
Luckily, I have a very great foundation with my family and a lot of my closest friends are friends I've had for a very long time, so they knew me before all this stuff. They can be the ones to say, "Don't get too fancy now, and remember who you are." One of my friends said it best, he said "You know Kristin, you will go to dinner at 7-Eleven or you'll go to Bergdorf’s or Target. I think that kind of sums me up. I will pay a really good amount for a really good pair of shoes and then have a rain coat that's $16! I think my family helps me keep the reality check. I don't buy into any of the hype, good or bad; I just don't. I like to just go and do my thing and just try to keep being great at what I do, not fame.
For more on Kristin Chenoweth, check out her official website: http://www.kristin-chenoweth.com/