Words of Wisdom from Idina Menzel

There was a nice interview in the Washington Post with Idina Menzel who’ll be appearing with the National Symphony this weekend.  I thought the following was really good: “Idina Menzel would rather not be categorized as a belter. Yes, she can rattle the rafters with ease, as her rendition of “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked” has proved. But Menzel wants younger fans to know there’s far more. “As much as I appreciate people putting me in the category of these very acrobatic belters, I feel like my strength is my . . . interpretation and my truthfulness with songs, and I don’t want young people to think it’s all about the high notes that they have to hit. It’s about what they’re saying and feeling, and a lot of the singers that I am inspired by are not the range-iest singers, but they’re the most authentic,” says Menzel.

“Menzel will be at the Kennedy Center tomorrow through Saturday in “A Date With Idina Menzel.” She’ll be backed by the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the NSO’s Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch. She and Hamlisch have discovered an artistic rapport.

“Performing in “A Broadway Celebration” on PBS Oct. 20, Menzel sang “Defying Gravity” of course, but also “What I Did for Love” from “A Chorus Line,” with Hamlisch, that show’s composer, accompanying her.

“She says she likes her concert schedule because she can swoop into a city, then swoop back to Los Angeles, where husband, actor Taye Diggs (they met on Broadway in “Rent”), who co-stars in the TV series “Private Practice,” and their 14-month-old son await.

“Menzel, 39, credits her early years as a wedding singer with honing her interpretive chops, “having to get onstage in front of people that weren’t listening and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and ‘Funny Valentine.’ ” She would do “homework” on the way to those jobs. “I’d listen to every rendition that Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn ever did and try to come up with my own version of that . . . so I felt like I was getting something out of those gigs, other than just singing ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ with a limbo stick or something.”

“I used to feel worried it was going to be harder for people to accept me, and now I feel like it’s the thing that makes me stand out.””


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