Kristin Chenoweth Chats About Dolly, Reba, and For the Girls (Part 1 of 2)

Broadway Star Releases Inspired New Album

As a star of stage, television and film, Kristin Chenoweth may be best known for her work in Wicked, Glee, Pushing Daisies and The West Wing. Yet the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, native with the soaring soprano also has a deep and longstanding connection with country music and some of its most beloved stars.

In promotion of her new album, For the Girls, Chenoweth visited CMT to discuss her country influences, including legends like Patsy Cline, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton.

CMT: Being from Oklahoma, I am curious — every time you come back down South, does it feel a little bit like you’re coming home?

Chenoweth: It always does. I was here in 1988 at Opryland when I was 19. I was a singer and dancer, back when we had Opryland. And I wanted to stay. My dad said, “You have to go get your degree, you have to finish.” I was like, “No, I’m good.” He said, “No, you have to go.” He put me in the car, literally. Came up here, and took me away and made me finish.

But you know what that summer did? That was the training that allowed me to cross a lot of different lanes, musically. I feel like the lanes are widening a little bit more and especially in country music. I feel like I might want to go meet a realtor after we’re done here with our interview. I know y’all don’t want us to all move here. I know. But I don’t take-up much space, so there’s that!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVM5tE6uhMc
Your new album, For the Girls pays tribute to some female musical heroes of yours. What was the inspiration for putting together this collection of songs?

After the last record, which was Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, all the great standards, I wanted to do something different but I didn’t know what. So I wrote down a bunch of songs that I always wanted to sing. I whittled it down from like 300 songs to like 50. Steve Tyrell, my producer, goes “You need to continue to whittle.”

So we whittled it and whittled it, and I saw that it was a list of unique singers that I’m celebrating here. There’s only one of them. When you listen to Barbra, you know it’s her. When you listen to Judy, you know it’s her. Eva Cassidy, you know it’s her. When it’s Dolly, you know it’s her. When it’s Linda, you know it’s her. I wanted to tip my hat to all of them, and also do my version.

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