Kristin Chenoweth to salute female artists, Broadway composers and more in eclectic Granada concert
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 2.
Cost: $56 to $156 for general admission, $31 for UCSB students with ID.
Where: The Granada, 1214 State St.
Information: UCSB Arts & Lectures at 893-3535, www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu; The Granada at 899-2222, www.granadasb.org
Kristin Chenoweth thought about Julie Andrews and spontaneously started singing.
“The hills are alive with …,” the Tony- and Emmy-winning actress sang beautifully during a recent interview with the News-Press. After those few notes, she returned to her friendly, speaking voice and down-to-earth Oklahoma accent.
She credits greats such as Ms. Andrews for inspiring her to go into musical theater.
“Certainly Judy Garland was a big influence,” Ms. Chenoweth, 51, said by phone from her Los Angeles home.
“Dolly Parton was a staple in my house; she was a huge influence on me musically,” said Ms. Chenoweth, a native of Broken Arrow, Okla. “Madeline Kahn — I found, wow, that’s someone who’s a legitimate singing soprano and is funny as hell.
“And of course, the queen is Carol Burnett, who did it all,” Ms. Chenoweth said.
She plans to have dinner with Ms. Burnett, the Montecito comic legend, actress and singer, and Ms. Burnett’s husband, Brian Miller, when she comes to Santa Barbara for her first concert at The Granada.
“I can’t believe I get to say that!” Ms. Chenoweth said about having dinner with her one of her idols, who has become her friend.
She plans to enjoy Santa Barbara, a city she loves, before going on stage at 8 p.m. Oct. 2.
Ms. Chenoweth plans an eclectic concert of Broadway hits, gospel, country, pop and actually anything she decides on the spur of the moment to sing as she observes her audience.
“I would like to try some new stuff in Santa Barbara that I haven’t sung live,” she said.
Expect music by Broadway great Jerome Kern and covers of songs by musicians who could vary from Willie Nelson to Doris Day, Ms. Chenoweth said.
Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures, her concert will also promote “For the Girls.”
That’s Ms. Chenoweth’s latest album in which she sings music previously performed by some of her female singers who inspired her.
The artists and songs vary from Barbra Streisand and “The Way We Were” (1973) to Patsy Cline and “Crazy” (1961), as well as Ms. Garland and “The Man Who Got Away” from her 1954 move, “A Star Is Born.”
The album also features Ms. Chenoweth singing Lesley Gore’s 1963 female empowerment song, “You Don’t Own Me,” with young music star Ariana Grande.
“I want to people to understand who Lesley Gore was and how she struck people during the time she was alive,” Ms. Chenoweth said.
She also recorded the 1973 Don Henley song “Desperado,” which was covered by Linda Ronstadt.
“Why can’t a woman sing that? And she did. And it gave me courage,” Ms. Chenoweth said.
And her album features her singing “I’m A Woman” with Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire. It was first sung by Christine Kittrell in 1962 and made popular by Peggy Lee the following year.
“For sure, it (‘For the Girls’) is a female empowerment album. I did not set out to do that a year and a half ago,” Ms. Chenoweth said.
“I just wrote a list of the songs I wanted to sing. I looked at the list, and they happened to be all strong women songs,” she said.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Ms. Chenoweth recalled her mother introducing her to the music of Carole King.
Inspired by such great singers, Ms. Chenoweth went on to Oklahoma City University, where she earned her master’s in operatic performance. She succeeded on Broadway with a Tony in 1999 for the musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
On TV, she’s acted in shows varying from “Pushing Daisies” to “The West Wing” to “Glee,” and her movies have included “Bewitched” (2005) and “The Pink Panther” (2006).
Back on stage, she was part of a female empowerment story when she performed in a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.”
“Of course, I’m going to sing from ‘Wicked’ at The Granada,’ ” said Ms. Chenoweth, who received a Tony nomination in 2003 as the first actress who played Glinda in the Broadway musical.
She said she liked the story about the relationship between Glinda and Elphaba, the “Wicked Witch of the West,” which the musical shows was actually not so wicked after all.
And Glinda, it turns out, wasn’t exactly a good witch.
“Maybe she didn’t start out so nice. Maybe she was insecure, and she led with her looks and her glitter and her fashion and her popularity,” Ms. Chenoweth said.
She said she liked the arc that involved Glinda forgiving Elphaba and herself in her evolution toward becoming a good witch.
“I always look at the truth in every character, in every song,” Ms. Chenoweth said.
This Christmas season, Ms. Chenowth will be seen performing with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and its orchestra. The special, which already has been recorded, will air in December on PBS and BYUtv.
“They (the choir) were very gracious to me and listened to my ideas,” Ms. Chenoweth said. “I had music I wanted to sing with them. They introduced me to music they sing every year.
“Or reintroduced, I should say,” said Ms. Chenoweth, who recalled growing up watching the Tabernacle Choir specials.
“It’s a rite of passage for any artist to sing with the Tabernacle Choir,” she said. “I knew that was on my bucket list.”
Ms. Chenoweth added that she’s excited about starring with Scott Wolf in “The Christmas Song,” an upcoming Hallmark Channel movie that she said explores a subject matter that the cable network has never tackled.
She said she couldn’t elaborate, but noted the subject is “one close to my heart.”
“I feel very blessed and lucky to get to act in a movie, create a song and maybe think of a new way or different way to fit something in,” she said.
On that note, Ms. Chenoweth said today is an exciting time for female artists.
“There are no more rules. And I’m glad to be alive to see it.”