From a church choir soloist to an Emmy and Tony award-winning actress and singer, Kristin Chenoweth has been dazzling audiences on film, television, and on stage with her dynamic range and powerful vocals for over 20 years. Currently promoting her sixth album, The Art of Elegance, she will be making her Celebrity Series of Boston debut for ‘An Intimate Evening with Kristin Chenoweth’ at Symphony Hall on Sunday, April 30 at 7 p.m. The evening will include a selection of her most popular songs, pop, American standards, and Broadway tunes. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Kristin Chenoweth talks about some of her favorite and most challenging roles, the inspiration behind her Grammy-nominated album, and a few surprises she has encountered along the way. Click here for more on her upcoming projects.
The Art of Elegance with Kristin Chenoweth Photo courtesy of Bryan Kasm
Sleepless Critic: You’re an actress, singer, Broadway performer, and voiceover artist. You sang in church at an early age. Was singing your first love?
Kristin Chenoweth: My first love was ballet. I wanted to be a ballerina, but I didn’t have the flexibility in my feet. I was so glad I had that training at a young age because I began to hear classical music and then I wanted to take piano. I think I was about eight years old when I had my first solo in church and that’s kind of when things shifted for me.
SC: You will be exploring a number of genres during your upcoming concert. Pop, songbook classics, Broadway, a bit of everything you’re known for. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
KC: I love all kinds of music and I shift in and out and change a lot. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Linda Ronstadt. I get on these kicks and I’ll just listen to something over and over and it shifts all the time. There are so many artists I admire, but that’s what I am doing right now.
SC: Have you ever had a role that you had certain expectations of and you ended up totally surprised by on Broadway or otherwise?
KC: Absolutely, I think playing the female lead in Promises, Promises. I knew it would be a challenge for me to play her, but it was really surprising how much I fell in love with her and came to really understand her. There’s a big part of me who really knew who this person was. It might not have been what fans wanted necessarily, but it is important as an artist to not always do what is expected. The part scared me and that is how I knew I needed to do it.
SC: You won a Tony as Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. What has been your favorite role so far?
KC: On Broadway, it is definitely Lily Garland in On the 20th Century. It was a role that required a lot of my own skill set and it is an operetta with tons of movement and high brow comedy. I probably never worked harder, but it was extremely gratifying.
SC: You have such a great vocal range. Was there a note that you discovered you could hit that took you by surprise?
KC: I remember being in a voice lesson while at Oklahoma City University. My teacher was vocalizing with me. I didn’t study voice growing up. I just sang in choir and was in drama in high school. That was my training, so I never had a voice lesson. When I went to OCU, she vocalized with me up to a high F sharp above high C. I knew that was high, but I couldn’t believe it.
For many years, I sang arias that required a high F and I noticed it’s maybe not there like it used to be. I would say I am living in more of the D or E flat area, but that was a crazy high note.
SC: When a song is particularly challenging, how do you overcome it?
KC: It’s so funny, we were just talking about one of the songs from Promises, Promises the other day with Michael Orland, my music director on this tour. The song is called, Knowing When to Leave by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. I just told him that it hammered away at my voice eight times a week because it is very repetitive in an area of my voice that is what we call passaggio. That song scared me.
Finally in rehearsals, I thought less about being note perfect and more about the character. I find that when you let go, you really think about what you are singing and mean what you are singing. It hasn’t always gone that way and I don’t always make the right decisions, but that is when you let go, you can get there. That song was a big challenge for me and to this day, I think it’s hard, but I worked on it, wrote it down, lived it, and warmed up to it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll pull it out again.
SC: The Art of Elegance is your latest album. What was the inspiration behind it and why did you choose American songbook classics this time around?
KC: Basically, I made a list of a bunch of songs and it kept pointing to this era. I love the lyrics. I love the melody of its time and they are some of the greatest songs ever written by composers such as Gershwin and Cole Porter. I didn’t know The Very Thought of You very well. I think I heard it a couple of times and then I really started to investigate the song. That happened a lot on this album and now, of course, I just feel like I want to do a part two.
Click here for more information and for tickets to Celebrity Series of Boston presents ‘An Intimate Evening with Kristin Chenoweth’ at Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave. in Boston, Massachusetts on Sunday, April 30 at 7 p.m. Celebrity Series of Boston just announced their 2017-18 season. Subscriptions, gift cards, group, and student discounts available. Click here for more on their upcoming season.
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