Kristin Chenoweth goes country with "Some Lessons Learned"

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 08: Actress Kristin Chenoweth attends the 2011 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images) Jason Merritt

(CBS) Kristin Chenoweth is singing a new tune - one that's bringing her back to her roots.

On her country album, "Some Lessons Learned," the Broadway veteran and TV star returns to the music she grew up singing.

"I have been singing country music my whole life," she says. "Today, I'm not really known for that, but growing up in Oklahoma that's all I ever really wanted to do and those were the biggest influences I had musically."

Pictures: Kristin Chenoweth

The 13-track album, which hit stores Tuesday, features tunes by pop and country songwriters including Diane Warren, Dolly Parton and Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott. Chenoweth co-wrote two songs on the album, including "What Would Dolly Do" - a tribute to Parton, whom she considers one of her biggest influences.

"It seemed like the right time, and I had a lot I wanted to say," she says. "I was born, but not yesterday, so I've hopefully learned a lot. And I think that what the album talks about is lessons I've learned though love, my professional life, and just life in general."

Recording the album in Nashville, Tenn., was a homecoming of sorts for Chenoweth, who sang and danced at Opryland when she was 19. But she recognizes that she's not known for country music, and doesn't want to be seen as just another actress making a record.

"I didn't want it to seem like I was coming in and, 'Move over, everybody, I'm here to do country!'" she says. "I didn't want it to be that way, and that's certainly not the way it is. If I'm being really honest, I wanted to be accepted, and appreciated, and respected. But I realize that I'm a new artist and I know who's come before me. And I respect that so much."

Chenoweth is singing at the Grand Ol' Opry on Saturday ("That's a bucket list-er right there," she says), and will announce tour dates later this year. In the meantime, she's working on the upcoming ABC drama "Good Christian Belles," about a woman who returns to the Dallas community where she grew up.

Her character, Carlene Cockburn, is "sort of the nerd, ugly duckling in high school, who reinvented herself," she says. "And she's not having this girl coming back and taking over."

Chenoweth is also planning to return to Broadway in a revival of the 1978 musical "On the Twentieth Century," in a role originated by Madeleine Kahn. She's also working on a musical about Tammy Faye Bakker with "Dreamgirls" writer/composer Henry Krieger.

"[She] was very interesting, unique spirit," she says of Bakker. "I think she had a very difficult life, I think she was blindsided with a lot of stuff, but I think her spirit was real and true - and she's a character! And she's interesting, so that makes her fun to play."

Chenoweth doesn't know if she'll be returning to "Glee" as April Rhodes this season (the role earned her an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series), but says that "If I were the boss, I'd have me back."

Chenoweth also notes that her role on the show is part of what led her to "Some Lessons Learned" - songwriter Dianne Warren heard her perform the Carrie Underwood hit "Last Name" on "Glee" and encouraged her to record a country album.

"I said, 'I want to, but I'm scared. I don't know how it'll be accepted,'" Chenoweth recalls. "And she said, 'It's you. Just got for it.' So that's what I did."

'Without her encouragement, I might still be a little nervous about it. But I knew this day would come, and I'm so happy it's now," she adds. "I'm singing about stuff I understand - what I've lived, what I've been through, what I've learned."

Watch Chenoweth discuss her upcoming projects below:

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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