When Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth released her For the Girls album, a tribute to female artists she loved, she knew she wanted to include Dolly Parton's, "I Will Always Love You." But Chenoweth never imagined Parton would actually sing with her on the classic hit – and was stunned when Parton agreed to the duet.
"I wanted to honor, celebrate actually, women that I have always wanted to sing their music," Chenoweth explained to PopCulture.com and other media. "Lesley Gore, Doris Day, Peggy Lee – I like to go back to the original source, so I asked Ariana Grande to sing 'You Don't Own Me,' the Lesley Gore song, so I tipped my hat to her, and Ari does her thing.
"Then, of course, I never thought Dolly Parton would sing 'I Will Always Love You; with me, but she said yes," she continued. "I'm still pinching myself, actually. We did a really cool version, arrangement of that. That's been a very special song, just for reasons known to myself, my whole life."
For the Girls also includes collaborations with Reba McEntire and Jennifer Hudson, who together sing "I'm a Woman" with Chenoweth. But it was Parton who inspired Chenoweth years ago, when she was just getting started in the music business.
"Dolly set the tone a long time ago, with Emmylou [Harris], and Linda [Rondstadt], remember when she had those albums that came out?" Chenoweth remarked. "Three very different talents were melded together, and that taught me, you can do something with Reba, and you can do something with Jennifer Hudson. You do you, because I'm a woman, and it's our own version of it, and I'm very proud of it."
Not only did Parton inspire Chenoweth, but the song they sing together was an early cornerstone for Chenoweth's life and career.
"I'll be honest with you, that song taught me to bet on myself, because she bet on herself when she separated from think about it, her mentor, the person that guided her in her career," Chenoweth said, speaking of Parton's split from Porter Wagoner, which inspired "I Will Always Love You." "She bet on herself, and made it a good parting. It wasn't a bad divorce, per se. It was just her, betting on herself.
"That's what I've taken my whole life, when I learned that story, and that's what I wanted to know from her," she added. "It's a good lesson for not just girls, but anybody to know."
Photo Credit: Getty / NBC