Chatback with Kristin Chenoweth

Tony and Emmy Award-winner, Kristin Chenoweth is best known for her iconic roles in Broadway’s Wicked, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, On the Twentieth Century and TV’s critically acclaimed comedy, Pushing Daisies. Chenoweth can also be seen in the upcoming Starz original series, American Gods and CBS’s Perfect Citizen. She is currently on tour with musical director and pianist, Michael Orland promoting her new album of American Songbook classics, The Art of Elegance, which made it’s debut at #1 on the Billboard Jazz charts. Chenoweth is also a humanitarian contributing her time to various charities including The Kristin Chenoweth Arts and Education Foundation and ASTEP. I got to chat with the songstress recently about her timeless new album, cooking recipes and the latest edition to her family, Thunder Pup!

kristin

Congratulations on The Art of Elegance reaching #1 on the Billboard Jazz charts. That’s quite an accomplishment! How does it feel?

Surreal. Can’t quite believe it. Mostly happy that people still want to hear this music by great composers like Hoagie Carmichael and George Gershwin! So proud of my producer Steve Tyrell, and my orchestrator Alan Broadbent for their work…I couldn’t have asked for a better team to honor the sound of these classics.

In our previous interview, you mentioned choosing the songs for your new album “was hell.” With the sheer success of The Art of Elegenace I’m guessing the torment was well worth it?

Of course. When it comes to art, there’s always going to be a degree of torment; whether any project is viewed as a success or not, there’s still a fear that you’re making the wrong choices. At some point, you have to be happy with what you’ve chosen to do. I’m so glad this particular group of songs speaks to people. They certainly have been my favorites over the years, and a lot of them are new to me vocally.

And you’re currently on tour in support of the album. What can audiences expect to hear?

Naturally, I’ll sing songs from The Art of Elegance; you’ll hear everything from Dolly Parton to Don Henley to Jerome Kern. It’s what I love doing the most: all the different styles, singing from composers who’ve really inspired me along the way.

Last year, you starred as Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray Live. What was that experience like?

Getting to work with some friends and meet some new ones was incredible. We all got very close in a very short amount of time…so glad I got to do it on NBC who started it all with the live musical on film. It wasn’t easy playing this kind of character however…making someone who is a true villain LIKABLE is the true challenge. I loved the look of the show, and of course the music. It holds all of the themes that make a great musical: family, friendship, evolution…of course, there’s that great score too!

Being a proud puppy parent myself, I love seeing your baby, Thunder Pup on Instagram and Twitter. How is she doing?

She is being such a good girl. Her learning curve is high. She is still in that teething stage, so when she chomps down on my hand or arm or side-fat, it hurts. She still doesn’t always make it to the potty pad, but she’s getting there. She certainly has brought a lot of light to my life and I love being her mama.

After watching your cooking video on the “cheese, cracker & jelly situation” I decided to try it for myself. It was delicious! When can we expect the next installment of #CookingWithKC?

I think probably very soon because I’ve been shooting in Toronto and I have a little kitchenette. I’m feeling like it might be in the sandwich territory.

Please tell us about The Kristin Chenoweth Arts and Education Foundation and ASTEP.

In my hometown in Oklahoma, about 5 years ago, they opened a performing arts center and named it The Kristin Chenoweth Theatre. I was very nervous about that…it holds a lot of responsibility. You eventually look at your life and you decide how you want to be remembered. What we’re doing now is a summer arts camp where kids audition and have a week of intensive class of musical theatre. Later in the year, we also do an annual masterclass where I teach 5 high school students and 5 college students in front of an audience at the theater so that the audience can see how an artist can grow and change on a dime. It’s a very inspiring night. Sometimes we take the money that we make and give musical instruments to schools in the area. We were just recently able to do that with my elementary school. We set up scholarship funds for kids who want to take music, acting, and dance. I just want this to grow and continue to get bigger and bigger because we all know that the arts change lives. And actually, that’s ASTEP’s mission as well: Artists Striving To End Poverty. My conductor Mary-Mitchell Campbell started ASTEP 10 years ago. ASTEP goes to countries all over the world to teach the arts and enrich lives through music. It also helps them with life skills. Pretty powerful. Thank you for asking.

For more info on The Kristin Chenoweth Arts and Education Foundation click here and for The Art of Elegance tour dates click here

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