The Faith Behind Kristin Chenoweth’s New Star-Studded Album

The Broadway star gets real about her duet with Dolly Parton and who she thinks should star in the movie version of Wicked.  

Posted in , Sep 26, 2019

Photo Credit: Gian Andrea DiStefano

Powerhouse performer Kristin Chenoweth is known for Broadway blockbusters like Wicked and the hit television show Glee. The winner of a Tony and an Emmy, and a three-time cover star in Guideposts magazine, she’s been an inspiration to many. Her new album, For the Girls, is a tribute to the female musicians who have inspired her.The album features covers of classic songs from the likes of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Carole King, along with duets with Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire and Jennifer Hudson, beloved female musicians. We caught up with the artist to talk about what inspired For the Girls, her relationship with Dolly Parton and how faith shapes her work. What inspired you to make an album “for the girls?”

Kristin Chenoweth: We're kind of having a renaissance right now. I didn't even set out to make a female record, I just wrote down a bunch of songs I wanted to sing and then I started looking at it and whittling it down with my producer, Steve Tyrell. By the time we got done with our list of about 30 songs, I said, "This is all strong female singer songwriters.” He said, "Yeah, it's really for the girls." I wanted to tip my hat to the singers that I love so much. What role does your faith play in creating an album like this?

KC: Faith plays a big part in all of my decision making and life in general. In music, it's the same. I just kind of listen and pray and think, "What do I want to say here and who do I want to honor and celebrate?" I'm a big believer in the Lord. When [you get] quiet and listen with both ears and talk with just one mouth, it's amazing what you can hear.

Read more about how Chenoweth's faith helped her make it on Broadway. So many amazing singe

rs are featured on the album. How did your “I Will Always Love You” duet with Dolly Parton come about? What was that experience like for you?

KC: I still can't believe she said yes. I asked her to do another song, “Here You Come Again.” She said, "If I'm going to sing with Kristin, I want to sing a song that I wrote." And I thought, "That is so true." She's still teaching me.

I never thought she'd give us “I Will Always Love You,” but she did. I just really wanted to show the world how much I love her and how much she's given to us as an artist and as a woman. I still can't believe it. Whenever it comes on, I just well up. I can't help it. Reba McEntire and Jennifer Hudson also join you for a song. Why did you want those voices on the album?

KC: Well, I wanted to do a song where all of us were different…like soul sisters, but different kinds of soul. I thought “Because I'm a Woman” would be the perfect choice, because there's so many verses to it and we could each take [one].

It just goes to show you that there are no rules anymore. Three very different voices can be on an album. Actually, Dolly did that a long time ago with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. I thought, "Why don't I do something like that?" And I asked two of my favorite voices of all time to do it. You've mentioned being mentored by and looking up to women like Julie Andrews and Dolly Parton and how you are trying to pass that on to singers like Ariana Grande, who you performed with in Hairspray Live. Why did you want to do a song with her?

KC: Well, I've watched her grow up and we've worked together. I happen to think she's got one of the best voices of all time. And she's also writing her music, so she's a smart business lady and I admire that.

I wanted us to have a song for the rest of our lives and I've always felt like she had a little Lesley Gore in her, so I knew I wanted to do [You Don’t Own Me]. I thought [she and I] could really kick it and we did. It's a combination of old school and new school with orchestra and the electric guitar. I don't know if you've heard the rumors about her being cast in the Wicked movie. How would you feel about her starring in the production that has meant so much to you?

KC: I think she’s the perfect choice. And I think Dove Cameron is the perfect choice to play Glinda. Come on, people! It was just announced that you will be doing a week-long concert version of For the Girls on Broadway. Why did you want to take these songs to Broadway and what can people look forward to from your live performance?

KC: Live performance is my favorite kind. What better place for me than Broadway! I want to look out and see my audience again and introduce some of these songs to my young fans that might not know who Eva Cassidy or Eydie Gormé are. I'll have some special guests that'll come and I might not do the same songs every night. That's the fun about live performance. You can switch it up. I'm excited for the audience to see what these songs look like [on stage]. Lastly, since she was the star of your most recent Guideposts cover I have to ask, how is Thunder doing? (Read more about how Chenoweth fell in love with, and eventually adopted, Thunder.)

KC: She is the star! She's awesome. She still likes her walks and her treats and she still does not like photo shoots, but she is great. She is just the love of my life. I can't help it. I'm such a dog freak, and I never thought I would be able to love another dog like I [loved] my little white Maltese Maddie, but Thunder has brought me so much joy and unconditional love. I'm glad she made her debut on the cover.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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