What I’ve Been Listening To This Week- Kristin Chenoweth

I missed my Rave Review Tuesday last week because I haven’t been a good reader lately and I haven’t watched anything new. This remains the case once again this week (I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls, alright), but I do have something different to review this week.

The trend in Broadway from my observations (not that I’m an expert) has been for performers to release live albums. So far I’ve gotten Norbert Leo Butz’s first, Aaron Tveit’s, and Laura Benanti’s. They have all been really fun and incredible to listen to and have made me appreciate them as performers even more.

I’m a huge fan of the live thing because it mimics the feel of a live performance. Obviously, there is a huge difference in not seeing it live, but there is an intimacy and a better understanding of a performer through hearing them sing and provide little anecdotes as they go. I suppose it has to do a lot with the comfort level and esteem of being on stage in front of an audience rather than locked up in a recording studio- and lack of auto tune!

Brief interlude- why can’t we accept things as they are? Why can’t we allow performers the little mistakes they make or people the imperfections they have? Isn’t there beauty in the fact that these are humans doing extraordinary things in their human way? The more “reality” we want, the less real things become and it takes away from the integrity of performing.

Thankfully, Kristin Chenoweth’s album, Coming Home, which dropped yesterday, is raw entertainment in its purest form. However, any “mistakes” that she may have made in her singing are not apparent to my ears, which is partly because I have an untrained ear, but also because she is a seamless performer who is in absolute control of her talent.

IMG_0694.JPG

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kristin’s and even though I love seeing her on Broadway, my absolute favorite medium is to see her perform live as herself. I’ve been to a ton of really enjoyable concerts over the years by various singers, which has included a lot of dancing and dramatic background thematics, but it takes someone very special to be able to stand up in front of an audience with a handful of musicians and just sing, and for that to be interesting. Very few artists can get away with this type of concert these days- Adele comes to mind- and Kristin is the absolute best at this (of course I’m biased.)

Live performances best reveal the nature of a performer and Kristin’s album was recorded in her home town, which adds to the emotions emanating from all of her song choices and the descriptions she offers as a preface. Every so often, you can hear there are moments where she gets choked up and overwhelmed, but if anything, it only lends to the performances. When Kristin sings, you can tell that she connects to the song, to music, and to performing in general, which again, is unlike many current performers. I don’t mean to mock or put down other singers, but I just want to magnify this exceptional talent.

I’ve been listening to the album while doing various things around the kitchen and typing up this blog post and it’s funny to hear my mom throw in her opinions. For one thing, she keeps saying “wow,” then she compared her to Madeline Kahn, which is funny because Kristin will be starring in a role Madeline Kahn originated on Broadway in On The Twentieth Century. Even my dad chimed in and offered, “Menowitz can really sing” (he changes the name for everything). I think that’s the best way I can show how astounding this album is.

Many of these songs I’ve heard from previous concerts or albums and I’m so happy to have them in my collection. I dare you to listen to “Coloring Book” and “Hard Times” and not getting something stuck in your eye. Listen, listen, listen, and then demand more live albums.

As a young professional attempting to find my way in this world, I do wish it were obvious to see what I am supposed to do in this world. With Kristin Chenoweth, at least in one facet, it is overwhelmingly evident that she was meant to perform and we are very fortunate to experience it.

IMG_0695.JPG

Advertisements

It’s Time To Accept Kristin Chenoweth As Your Queen

Warning: I’m going to fangirl, but I’m not sorry about it.

 Here’s the thing. I said this on Twitter, but I’ll say it again for dramatic affect. People talk about Judy at Carnegie Hall all those years ago. People will talk about Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall years from now.

 I’ve been a fan of Kristin’s for almost a decade now. I was fifteen and now I’m almost twenty-five and I have changed and grown in a multitude of ways. One thing that remains the same, while still being able to astound me, is that Kristin Chenoweth is a hell of a performer.

 It would be nearly embarrassing to admit how many times I’ve seen her in concert or on the stage, in movies (Hello, Space Chimps– I mean, you’re welcome) or TV, and how much money I’ve spent or forced other people to spend (thanks Godmother!) Every single time, it has been worth it.

 The Apple Tree remains my all-time favorite Broadway performance I have ever seen. Promises Promises also was excellent. Pushing Daises (RIP) was one of those shows I always was amazed by the cleverness and creativity, especially as an aspiring writer, and wish there was more. Sometimes the movies were questionable, but Kristin’s abilities to be funny and talented still shine. But on stage, in concert, Kristin is talent.

 There is a difference, at least in my mind between talented and talent. There are a lot of people in this world who can carry a tune and perform among the greatest. Or are great, amazing at what they do. But last night’s show was the definition of a performance. For all of me, as I am going through this point in my life struggling to find what I want to do for a career, I wish it was clearly defined for me. There’s no doubt that Kristin belongs on stage.

 Not that she hasn’t worked hard, because as a fan for so many years, I have come to understand just how much hard work and dedication she puts into everything that she does. It’s one of those factors I admire most. Lately, with the semester finishing up and grad school nearing close, I’ve been busy and overwhelmed.

 So many ideas are popping up in my head, but I don’t have the time to write them down. It’s getting to me. But seeing a performance like last night. One where you see someone doing what she loves and being exceptional. Well, that is inspiration. I’m not a singer, and as my brother tells me, I can’t hit the high notes. But I am a writer and if I want to have any success or even be allowed to call myself that, I have to work at it, no excuses. Foster the passion that drives the soul, if not for anyone else, but for yourself.

 Last night, the entire concert was beautiful. The performance that stands out to me, among all others (and again, I have seen a LOT), was the encore. Kristin stood at center stage, without a mike, with every single person in that audience leaning forward in stunned silence, singing “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. After another standing ovation, I looked at my friend Stephanie and all we could do is say, “Wow.”

 Captivating and remarkable, and everyone in that audience was lucky to be there. That is what the power of music and talent can do. It was cleansing and inspiring and I just want to say thank you, once again, Kristin Chenoweth.

 Now can someone please give her her own variety show a la the likes of the Carol Burnett Show?!