When Kathie Lee Gifford left the Today Show, where she worked for more than 10 years, she didn't just leave her award-winning Today with Kathie Lee and Hoda, but the city of New York as well. The 66-year-old has since moved to Nashville, intending to immerse herself in the music community, where she immediately felt embraced and welcomed.
As proof of her acceptance into Music City, Gifford will perform two shows with the Nashville Pops Orchestra, on Nov. 16 and 17. The first show, called An Evening With Kathie Lee, will benefit the Nashville Pops Orchestra, although Gifford will walk away with something as well.
"On the 16th, there's a gala," Gifford told PopCulture.com exclusively. "They're very sweetly giving me an award that I do not deserve, some Lifetime Achievement Award. I said to Jeff Bown, who's the Pops conductor, I said, 'Why, what have I done?' And so apparently he thinks I deserve it. I don't, but I'm gonna take it!"
"Yeah, I can't be rude, I just got here! " she laughed. "And then the next night is the actual Christmas concert, the Nashville Pops Symphony and that's gonna be with this huge choir. My dear friend and co-writer Nicole C. Mullen is gonna perform our oratorio, The God Who Sees."
Gifford, who will also premiere a song from a new oratorio that she co-wrote, will perform the second night at the Ryman Auditorium, backed by a 1000-voice choir. It's a far, far cry from Gifford's initial introduction to Nashville.
"I've been blessed in my career to perform at Carnegie Hall, perform on Broadway," Gifford reflected. "A lot of the great stages. But my performing in Nashville has been limited to a sitcom that I did in 1988 called Hee Haw Honeys. That's when there was not one building in Nashville over two stories! TV Guide called it one of the worst sitcoms of all time.
"I still have my home in Connecticut and a little place in the Keys that we get away to, my family and I," Gifford said. "But I've been here a year now, even though I still stayed at the Today Show until April, I got a small place last October. And very quickly realized I want to be here a lot more than I thought I wanted to be. I didn't want to invest in something that I would have to get rid of 'cause I said, 'Oh, you know what, it didn't work out; it was an emotional decision.'
"But I'd been spending a lot of time in Nashville for the last two years and, in fact, every weekend or at least every month working on a movie that I had written for Craig Ferguson and myself to do," she continued. "We did it and I co-wrote all the music with a great writer, Brett James. He's amazing. So I was coming down to write it all and then to do the videos that we did and then to record everything an... It was a lot of being down here and I remember thinking, 'Every time I get on the plane to have to go back to New York I go, 'I don't wanna go.'"
More information on her upcoming events can be found by visiting Gifford's website.
Photo Credit: Getty / Greg Doherty