Kristin Chenoweth comes home for country album

Tue Sep 6, 2011 8:31am EDT
 
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By Mike Ayers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - She has played a witch in "Wicked," a lush on "Glee" and a deputy press secretary on "The West Wing," but actress Kristin Chenoweth's latest project is nowhere near a Broadway stage or TV screen. She is returning to her Oklahoma roots, singing country songs.

Due September 13, "Some Lessons Learned," is comprised of 13 songs that cast the pint-sized blonde into a musical genre that makes perfect sense for her signature high pitch voice. Country music, she told Reuters, fits her "naturally."

"It's the closest to home that I could get," she said. "Someone asked me 'why a country record, why now? ' Well, it's because it's been going on since I was about five."

Born in and raised in the Tulsa, Okla. suburb of Broken Arrow, Chenoweth's earliest experiences with country music came from watching her great uncle play bluegrass. From there, she sang country songs in church and at rodeos. She idolized Dolly Parton and even spent a summer when she was 19 years-old at Opryland in Nashville.

Prior to "Some Lessons Learned," Chenoweth dabbled in other genres, including a Christmas album, a Christian album and logically for the Broadway star, a collection of show tunes. But here, she shows more of a variety and flare for the country music's long history.

In doing so, she teamed with veteran songwriter Diane Warren for a handful of songs that show off a pop-country approach. She tackles a Dolly Parton song, "Change," as well pays homage to her idol in the tongue-and-cheek "What Would Dolly Do" -- one of two songs she co-wrote.

DOLLY, MADONNA, JULIE ANDREWS

Anchoring the set is Chenoweth's high-pitched voice, which flows through different country factions effortlessly. Her stage training lends itself to the ballads "Fathers and Daughters" and the folk-leaning "God and Me."   Continued...