As her year unlike any other nears its end, Kristin Chenoweth is immersing herself in country music again.
A co-host of last year’s American Country Awards, the Tony- and Emmy-winning singing and acting dynamo reteams with Trace Adkins (who’s had the job from the start) to preside over the third annual event Monday (Dec. 10) on FOX. Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Jake Owen are among those slated to perform as the fan-voted honors are announced at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.
“We’re really excited,” Chenoweth tells Zap2it about reuniting with country star Adkins to guide the show. “We really get along, and he’s just a cool person. For some reason, we have this crazy chemistry that people enjoy. I enjoy it myself, and I was bound and determined to not lose that date. That was my goal, to be there for that.”
Indeed, the American Country Awards marks one of Chenoweth’s first big jobs since her devastating accident last summer on the set of CBS’ “The Good Wife.” While filming what was to be a recurring part as a political reporter, she was struck by a fallen light fixture … resulting in serious injury to her face, skull, neck, spine and ribs. Her doctors didn’t expect her to resume work this soon, but she did.
“I just can’t have idle hands,” the typically energetic Chenoweth confirms. “I was down for two months easily, then into the third month, I slowly started coming back out a little bit. It was a life-changing event for me, and I don’t want to milk it dry, but it’s something that will take me a while to recover from. I still have injuries that I’m dealing with, but overall, I’m so lucky to be back. I’m getting there.”
A year ago, while filming the ultimately short-lived ABC series “GCB,” Chenoweth had an added incentive for involvement in the American Country Awards: her own, then-new country album, “Some Lessons Learned.”
“Country music is very inclusive,” she reflects, “but you’ve got to pay your dues there. I think there was a little bit of, ‘Wait a minute, now. She may be so-and-so, but she’s not been in our world.’ When I was asked to do ‘GCB,’ I think it opened up a little bit of acceptance for me. I’ll do another song from the album on the show this year; the way we’re doing it is a secret, but I think it’ll be really fun.”
The end of the country road may not be in sight yet for Chenoweth in recording terms, since she confirms she’s “thinking about” making another album in the genre.
“I have a lot of other songs in mind, including a couple that I wrote,” she says. “I have a label that I have to answer to (Sony), so we’ll see how they feel about it, but I do see that in my future.”
While country still may not be the music form she’s most associated with, after such Broadway successes as “Wicked” and “Promises, Promises,” Chenoweth notes that she “grew up singing that way, and a lot of country music artists were my idols. I love Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand, but I also love Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Those were my people. That was all we had in Oklahoma, country radio.
“To see those kinds of people, but also to meet the newbies, that’s really cool for me,” Chenoweth concludes of her American Country Awards return. “It’s just neat to meet people who are doing something that you really can appreciate.”