Q: You're sort of having your 'second act' with a music career. What does it mean to you to reinvent yourself from actress to singer?
“Reinvention” seems as if there’s been a conscious effort to change something -- that there’s an abandonment of something that isn’t working. Songwriting and singing feel less like reinvention and more like integration of what I’ve always loved and never knew how to make happen. I believe people have so much creativity and are sometimes stifled by messages they heard in childhood that keeps them from pursuing an artistic path. How many times did we hear as children that you can’t make money being an artist? I’ve met so many creative people who are doctors, lawyers, business people. They became successful but still have the desire to pursue the arts. Creativity, and the inspiration to create, surround us and live in us. I have met the most creative people in the most unlikely places. There’s a deep human need to express ourselves, and for me, it’s music.
Q: What inspires you in your songwriting?
So many things! Stories that resonate with me that I have heard from friends, or have read about, often inspire me. My own experiences can sometimes be put into songs, if not always an exact translation, there’s hopefully, an artistic one. I wrote a song called "New Girl" with Emily Shackleton from the Halfway To Home album, that was inspired by a friend who found out her husband was cheating on her. She handled it so gracefully and I imagined what a conversation with the other woman would sound like. That song poured out quickly.
Q: What was your experience like at The Bluebird back in October?
The Bluebird is an experience like no other. People come to really listen. They are connoisseurs of songwriting and they take it seriously. For a songwriter to perform there, you’re embraced with an understanding that the audience provides. The Bluebird has created that through their respect and value of songwriting.
Q: If you could perform a duet with any one person, who would you love to sing with?
Dolly Parton. What she has given to music is epic. And she’s still giving. I love her so much.
Q: You're also a contributing writer to publications like Huff Post and Harper's Bazaar. Is there a book in Rita Wilson?
I have not yet written a book. I enjoy writing in all its forms. Writing is a way to express yourself, but also to form opinions about what’s on your mind. If I were to ever write a book, I’d want it to be about the creative process somehow.
Q: Tell us what you love about this area.
I’ve only had the pleasure of passing through Franklin. I spent a lot of time in Nashville. In the seven years I’ve been coming here, I have noticed a different skyline, more traffic and great new restaurants. The city is one of the most fun places, with some of the best music and musicians you’ll ever hear. It’s called Music City for a reason. When I did CMA Fest this year, I was amazed by the amount of talent everywhere you looked. Music was streaming out of restaurants and bars, on the streets and in hotels. If you love music, this is the place for you. I did my last album Halfway to Home in Nashville with all Nashville musicians and Nathan Chapman producing.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I have a fifth album almost completed. I’ll be touring with Kristian Bush of Sugarland. We will tour some of our military bases in Asia. I also still produce movies. I’m developing one based on the novel, A Man Called Ove. I’m working with former First Lady Michelle Obama and Nashville’s own Faith Hill, on an initiative to register people to vote. Going into our twenty third year, I continue to raise funds for the Women’s Cancer Research Fund and the Breast Cancer Research Fund to fund scientists, doctors and researchers in a quest to cure breast cancer, of which I’m a survivor.
Q: What was the inspiration for last month's TEDx Talk? What inspired you to participate?
It was about taking risks and asking yourself what it is that you really want. It’s sometimes harder to answer that question than you’d think. I have always loved the Ted talks and the TEDx talks. It was really an honor to be asked to participate.
Q: What does "healthy" mean to you?
“Healthy” has to include exercise. I try to do something every day. Even if it’s walking on a treadmill and watching some DVR’ed show. That can actually get me on the treadmill. It’s like a reward at the same time I’m exercising! I’ve reduced red meat in my diet, and also alcohol, as both are associated with breast cancer. And laughing is so important! The joy I get from performing live definitely contributes to overall happiness. My family is everything. Spending every minute we can together is a boost.