Kristin Chenoweth Has Got Your Back
BY Winston Gieseke
September 06 2011 4:00 AM ET
Diane Warren wrote many of the songs on the album. Did you learn anything from her?
Man, there’s a reason she’s the number 1 hit maker. She writes these melodies and makes these lyrics just mean something. Everything has a reason, and that’s what makes her so special. I was honored that she wanted me to do these songs. She gave me the confidence and faith in myself to do this album. She heard me do a track of Carrie Underwood’s for Glee called “Last Name,” and she said, “You’re a country artist.” I said, “I do feel that, but I’m afraid I won’t be accepted.” She said, “This is part of who you are. Go for it.” She’s the one who got me into the recording studio in Nashville. I said, “I’ll do two songs and we’ll see how it goes.” And it just grew from there. So I credit her fully for this.
The first single, “I Want Somebody (Bitch About),” is a fun and quirky song about unconditional love. What are your thoughts on the practicality of unconditional love?
I think it’s the biggest gift a parent can give a child, a friend can give a friend, and a brother can give to a sister. It’s what we all want in our lives. And I’m lucky because I had and have a family that did that for me.
Growing up in Oklahoma, you were obviously influenced by country music — what other genres did you listen to?
I was probably the freak in [her hometown of] Broken Arrow, because I loved opera. My parents played all kinds of music. I was a huge Julie Andrews fan, and I loved all the cast albums. I also listened to Beethoven and Chopin. I grew up playing classical piano, so my taste went all over the map.
You have said, “Just because I'm Christian doesn't mean I don’t question things — God gave us a brain for a reason.” What would you ask people who cite Christianity as their justification for passing laws that discriminate against people?
I would ask, “What would Jesus do?” [Laughs] It sounds so cliché and Pollyanna-ish, but I have a feeling if he were on the earth today, he wouldn’t be walking around saying, “You’re going to hell” and “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.” I think he’d be accepting and loving. I always use this as an example: What would I do if it was a sin to be short? That’s the way God made me, so what could I do? Let’s see, I could wear heels, I could tease my hair, and maybe on a good day I could be 5'1". But the bottom line is, I’m 4'11" and that’s the way I was put together. And that’s what I believe about homosexuals. And I love, love that this has become a purpose in my life. It’s one that I didn’t ever expect. “What would Jesus do?” That’s my answer.