Kristin Chenoweth to Shine Spotlight on Her Country Roots
“It’s how I was raised singing It’s always been a huge part of who I am.” With Nashville Symphony Show
Kristin Chenoweth’s astounding voice and stage presence have awarded her an illustrious career as one of Broadway’s most respected stars. Always an avid lover of theatre, the native Oklahoman was also raised with country music in her blood, as her older brother “wore out” Garth Brooks and Randy Travis records, while Chenoweth herself couldn’t get enough of Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and Trisha Yearwood. She’s eager to bring her love of the genre centerstage during her three-night performance with the Nashville Symphony in September. “I always say I don’t think country and Broadway are that different. There are a lot of story songs when you think about it,” she tells Sounds Like Nashville via a phone call from Los Angeles. “It’s how I was raised singing. It’s always been a huge part of who I am.”
Like her artistic passions of Broadway and country music, Chenoweth has a gift for telling stories. Whether blowing audiences away with her original portrayal of Glinda in Wicked, or adding a charming presence to starring roles in Pushing Daises and Trial & Error, Chenoweth knows how to embody character and story alike. She demonstrates this on her debut country album Some Lessons Learned,which allowed her to call herself a Nashville resident for five months while recording the project in 2011, writing alongside some of the industry’s most sought out talent including Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Shane McAnally, Tom Douglas and Desmond Child, to name a few. “If I could live anywhere else and be happy, it’d probably be there. Nashville is very familiar and close to home to me,” the Midwestern-raised singer reflects. “There’s something very comfortable and familiar to me about the people and how people are and get along and treat each other. I remember walking down Broadway and listening to all the musicians and everybody killing it all the time.”
The expert level of musicianship she witnessed on Broadway is reminiscent of her days in Nashville as a bright 18-year-old performing as a cast member at the adored Opryland amusement park. The future Broadway extraordinaire starred as a singer and dancer in the “Way Out West” show with famed Opry musicians as her peers. It was during this transformative time she learned the value of mentorship and how to pace herself as an entertainer, soaking in all types of musical experiences. “It was a great experience and it was an important one for me to have to understand what it’s like to be a team and in theatre and do music,” she says genuinely. “I loved it.”
Chenoweth will put this appreciation for Music City on display when she performs for the third time with the Nashville Symphony, offering fans a night of famous theatre numbers such as her signature “Popular” from Wicked, “I Could Have Danced All Night” in My Fair Lady and the legendary “Over the Rainbow.” While she’ll offer a healthy dose of musical theatre that blends opera with classical music and even some gospel, the impeccable vocalist also promises surprises along the way, hinting that she’ll be bringing special guests to the stage each night. “I’m going to pay tribute to the people that I grew up singing in Nashville. I think that’s important,” she says.
Nashville is a city that attracts dreamers, and Chenoweth knows firsthand what it’s like to chase a dream. She realized one of her many aspirations when she came full performed on the Grand Ole Opry, an experience she “respected” and “honored” deeply while recording her country record. Through her experiences in Nashville, the star recognizes the impact the city’s energy has on her artistry. “As an artist on a more personal level, the word ‘freedom’ comes to mind,” she says regarding how Nashville brings out a different side of her. “I feel like I can relax a little bit, even musically. I might even take more of a risk there because I think it’s so filled with artistry and people appreciate the risk-taking. When I’m there, I want to be a better artist.”
Kristin Chenoweth performs with the Nashville Symphony Sept. 27-29.