With Some Lessons Learned, Kristin Chenoweth broadens her musical offerings to include rock/country. Although Kristin was born and raised in Broken Arrow Oklahoma, her first album (Let Yourself Go, 2001) embraced Broadway. An inspirational album (As I Am, 2005), a Christmas album (A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas, 2008), and the soundtrack to a Broadway revival, (Promises, Promises, 2010) followed.
The lyrics Kristin chooses are often laugh-out-loud funny. The words, “I hope I don't miss you” acquire a distinct meaning when the audience sees a gun (prop) in Kristin's hand. Her performance, backed by a symphony on KCTS, a Seattle PBS station, can be found on YouTube. This romp of a tune also is found on her album Let Yourself Go. As the producers ask, who besides Kristin could remember all the words?
I listened to “The Girl in 14G” on Letting Yourself Go before I watched Kristin's YouTube performance. I questioned whether I was listening to a solo or had the recording been filled out with additional voices. The YouTube video confirmed that “The Girl in 14G” is a solo. Kristin, in her most mousy voice, sings of her unrivaled nook of an apartment until the “girl downstairs” turns out to be an “opera wanna-be”. Kristin provides voices to the mouse in 14G, the soprano in 13G, and the additional lusty voice from 15G. Kristin's soprano voice would not have been a surprise if I had known she had been named “most promising up-and-coming singer” in a previous Metropolitan Opera National Council audition.
When enjoying Kristin's virtuosity, the listener can forget the years of training necessary to make her performance seem effortless. She received a BFA in musical theatre from Oklahoma City University. Voice training came under Florance Birdwell, who also trained South Pacific's Kelli O'Hara.
Two recordings of Kristin singing “My Funny Valentine” are available. One is on Letting Yourself Go, and it uses the orchestration from the original 1937 Rodgers and Hart Broadway hit, Babes In Arms. Unfortunately, video of this version is not available.
The alternate recording is with the violin virtuoso, Joshua Bell (on Joshua Bell, At Home With Friends); a video is posted on YouTube. Kristin's voice is identical on both versions. Joshua's violin and Kristin's voice form a duet, rather than having Joshua accompany Kristin. The remaining instruments – piano, harp, flute and double base – accentuate the duo. The video conspicuously marks the single notes of the double base, as if its contributions would not be salient to the listener.
Kristin tells us that she goes to Starbucks “with my dog hidden in my purse because they don't allow dogs.” (Elissa Gootman, 2010) Fortunately, Kristin did not bring " the canine soprano" with whom she sang a duet at the 2007 Drama Desk Awards.
Tucked among the conventional, and not so conventional, holiday music found in A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas, Kristin has the listener “wait for Santa to sail in with your presents in a canoe” (Christmas Island). Always polite, Kristen “thanks [“Taylor, the Latte Boy”] for the extra foam” (in As I Am).
Kristin will be starring in a TV series, The Christian Bells, on NBC. Certainly, she will return to Broadway at some point. But where will she take her singing? Now that she has completed a country album, what repertoire has her voice not attempted?
Will Kristin be attempting jazz; scat? Will she record in a foreign language? French? Italian? Wouldn't it be great if Kristin and Steve Martin played “Dueling Banjos”? Steve on banjo; Kristin on voice?
When I hear the name “Kristin Chenoweth”, I always wonder what she will be up to this time. I hope that her fans will never be able to pigeon-hole her.