Kristin Chenoweth goes country

Oklahoma-born and -bred actress/singer Kristin Chenoweth already is a Broadway, TV and movie star, but this year she also released her debut country album. On Monday, she will continue her country crossover when she co-hosts the second annual American Country Awards on Fox.
BY BRANDY MCDONNELL bmcdonnell@opubco.com Published: December 5, 2011
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Although her Tony-winning Broadway performances, Emmy-honored television work and big-screen movie roles have made her famous, Kristin Chenoweth still considers herself just a country girl from Oklahoma.

“I know that some people see me in different things: I'm known for ‘RV,' ‘West Wing,' ‘Pushing Daisies,' Broadway, ‘Wicked,' it's kind of always different. But I hope what they learn about me ... is, yes, I'm a trained opera singer and, yes, I've done Broadway, but country music is also in my heart,” Chenoweth said last month before her Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame induction in Muskogee.

In September, Chenoweth, 43, released her first country album, “Some Lessons Learned,” and on Monday, she continues her successful crossover when she co-hosts the second annual American Country Awards, airing live from Las Vegas from 7 to 9 p.m. on Fox. The 4-foot-11-inch classically trained soprano will share hosting duties with 6-foot-6-inch country baritone Trace Adkins, who presided over the show solo in its first year.

“I'll just let y'all know if he's clipped his nose hairs,” Chenoweth joked during the hall of fame news conference.

While the Broken Arrow native turned down an invitation to appear at the 45th Annual Country Music Association Awards to attend her Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame induction, Chenoweth said she was looking forward to co-hosting and performing for the newer Academy of Country Music Awards.

And she won't be the only Oklahoman featured at the ACAs. Hot new duo Thompson Square, which includes Miami native Keifer Thompson, earned seven ACA nominations. Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith also will vie for the commemorative guitars that are given in lieu of trophies for the fan-voted awards.

In addition, Thompson Square, Shelton, Keith and Lambert's all-girl trio Pistol Annies will perform on the awards show, which will transport some of Nashville, Tenn.'s top talents to Las Vegas.

“I think one of the reasons I like Nashville so much is that it does remind me of Oklahoma. Having been in New York and L.A., ... it's totally different,” Chenoweth said.

“I certainly was not known for country music at all. It's been opera and musical theater, and I wasn't sure how the country album would go over. But it's doing pretty darn good. I'm very proud that they're accepting it and they understand that it's my roots. It's where I came from. I think the musicians (that have come) before me have proven that our state, definitely there's something in the dirt. I love Nashville, but Oklahoma's my home.”

Chenoweth actually scored her best-charting album on the cross-genre Billboard 200 with “Some Lessons Learned,” which debuted at No. 50, according to Billboard.com. The actress/singer concurrently bowed at No. 14 on Billboard's country albums list, marking her first entry on that chart.

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