Tony Award-winning singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth reaches back to her spiritual roots – set down long before she began a career that most recently has taken her from Broadway’s to TV’s The West Wing – for As I Am, her new recording from Sony Classical/ Integrity Music. Chenoweth covers a wide range of inspirational material, including contemporary Christian hits, traditional hymns and gospel favorites, for As I Am, which is produced by Chris Harris (Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, CeCe Winans) and will be released on April 5, 2005.
As I Am is a dream fulfilled for Chenoweth who has long wanted to record an album that reflects her lifelong spiritual commitment. Born in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Chenoweth grew up singing in her Southern Baptist Church, providing her a creative and musical foundation that is the inspiration for the new record.
“One of the things I’ve always wanted to accomplish as an entertainer is to let people know there are real people in the real world trying to be what God wants them to be. I really wanted to do this record, with that in mind,” says Chenoweth. “Making this record has been such a huge blessing to me, so I hope that people are uplifted and encouraged by it.”
Producer Chris Harris created arrangements for the 12 tracks that revisit some well-known music and also take full advantage of the operatic range of Chenoweth’s soprano voice.
In addition to covering songs of her favorite singers such as Amy Grant (“There Will Never Be Another”), Sandi Patti (“Upon This Rock”), Faith Hill (“It Will Be Me”) and Trisha Yearwood (“The Song Remembers When”), Chenoweth sings Bill and Gloria Gaither’s gospel classic “Because He Lives” and MercyMe’s “Word of God Speak.” Chenoweth also offers her interpretation of enduring classics like the traditional “Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” the hymn “Just As I Am,” and the exuberant “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” based on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Finally, As I Am features a new song, “Borrowed Angels,” a ballad by Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren, and Jerry Wise’s tenderly reassuring “When You Abide in Me.”
Following the release of As I Am, Chenoweth will begin a series of performances at Women in Faith events to be held throughout the U.S. These two-day arena events, usually attended by as many as 20,000 women, include inspirational speakers, prayer and music. Chenoweth will be the special guest performer at events scheduled for April 8 in Houston; April 15 in Columbus OH; August 5 in Sacramento; August 12 in Portland; August 19 in Denver; August 26 in Dallas; and November 4 in Oklahoma City.
Though she had her first performing experience singing in church, Chenoweth went on to study at Oklahoma City University as a lyric coloratura soprano, earning a bachelor’s degree in musical theater and a master’s degree in opera performance. When she entered the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, she was awarded a prize that led to a full scholarship for post-graduate study at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. En route to Philadelphia, she auditioned for an Off-Broadway show and got the part, which led her to forgo the operatic training and concentrate on the theater.
Chenoweth’s meteoric rise on Broadway began with her Tony Award-winning featured performance in the 1998 revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. She again won raves on Broadway in the comedy Epic Proportions and, in 2004, won rave reviews and yet another Tony nomination for her starring performance in the blockbuster musical Wicked. She also sang the role of Cunegonde in the New York Philharmonic’s 2004 concert performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, which Great Performances broadcast on PBS in January and will be released on home video. In 2003, she co-starred with Matthew Broderick in ABC’s TV adaptation of the classic musical The Music Man, after playing the part of Lily St. Regis in ABC’s TV movie of the musical Annie.
In addition to her new recurring role as Annabeth Schott in the NBC series The West Wing, Chenoweth will appear with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell in the upcoming film version of the classic TV series Bewitched and with Steve Martin and Kevin Kline in a revival of the Pink Panther films.
In the coming months, Chenoweth will be singing concerts at different venues around the U.S., including pops performances with symphony orchestras and concerts with her own combo. She will also be recording the voice part for Disney’s new animated take on Rapunzel, which also features the voice of Reese Witherspoon.
Kristin Chenoweth made her Sony Classical debut with Let Yourself Go, a collection of classic American songs from Tin Pan Alley and Broadway as well songs by new composers and lyricists, with Rob Fisher conducting The Coffee Club Orchestra.