Five questions with ... Audra McDonald

Posted Sunday, May. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Audra McDonald

If either her husband or daughter is calling, Audra McDonald knows without looking at her phone. That’s because the five-time Tony Award winner has programed the ring tone for both to be The Carpenters’ hit version of (They Long to Be) Close to You.

For more revealing things about McDonald, look no further than her new CD. The 12-song disc, called Go Back Home, includes classics like Stephen Sondheim’s The Glamorous Life, and Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein II’s Edelweiss.

McDonald, who is host of Live From Lincoln Center, has a line of concert dates until Christmas, has shot a pilot for CBS with Hope Davis and Sam Neill, and has three theater projects percolating.

The Associated Press recently sat down with the singer to find out about the new album and why she won’t be listening to it.

1 Why so long between albums?

Life happened. And I wasn’t quite ready to say anything. I was like, ‘I don’t want to force it. I don’t want to make an album simply to make an album. I need to have something to say.’

2 Is there a story behind Edelweiss ?

That’s the first song I ever auditioned for anything with. I was 9 years old and my dad played it on the piano for me during my audition. It was for a dinner theater troupe in Fresno, Calif. I got in, and that started me on my theater journey. That song has always had this huge influence.

3 Has your voice changed in these seven years?

I think I understand my voice more than I did seven years ago. I’m much more comfortable with what my voice is than I was seven years ago. I’m not so anxious to sound like someone else.

4 You have five Tonys. Do you hope for a sixth?

It’s still not even fathomable to me that I have one, let alone five. It does not compute. Last night, I was walking upstairs after having done three loads of laundry. I came upstairs and turned a corner to another pile of laundry. There’s just so much laundry in my life! Someone with five Tonys shouldn’t have this much laundry!

5 Lots of people will hear this, but you won’t be one of them, right?

I can give notes during the mixing process and then after that I have to step away. I have people that I trust listen to it but I won’t be able to listen to the album for years. When they sent me the final cut, if I listened to it at that point I would say, ‘Throw the whole thing into the trash. Let’s start over.’

— Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press

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