Listen: Katharine McPhee's 'Unbroken'
Enjoy a listening party with Katharine McPhee now! (expert advice)
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About Katharine McPhee:
Her brand new album, Unbroken, hits stores January 5, 2010!
Fans first met McPhee on Season Five of "American Idol". The runner-up could seemingly sing any style of music, but especially mesmerized millions with her heart-stirring rendition of "Over the Rainbow." Her first solo album, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 in early 2007, only hinted at the extent of her talent-not only as a singer but as a songwriter-that Unbroken reveals.
Unlike that first effort, McPhee co-wrote the majority of the songs on Unbroken, collaborating with fellow singer/songwriters Paula Cole, Ingrid Michaelson and Rachael Yamagata. "This record is definitely more personal to me," McPhee says. "I have more stories to tell. It's more of an artistic look at me as a person. Coming from a reality show, it's hard to know the depth of somebody. This record gave me that opportunity to show that. That's what Verve wanted from me: to make a record I was proud of. It was a huge blessing to give me that."
Her vocals also display a new vulnerability and maturity that make Unbroken compelling listening. "I think I finally learned to breathe," McPhee says, both literally and figuratively. "I'm grounded in my own body; my voice was grounded. Having a big voice, I had to realize that singing high notes didn't equal artistry. This is more about how I can interpret a song, the nuances of singing."
While sounding utterly contemporary, McPhee also drew from the tremendous voices that have guided her throughout her life ranging from Nina Simone to Sarah McLachlan. "I wanted some older influences on here," she says. "My mom is a cabaret singer; I grew up with the Great American Songbook. That's why I know all the standards, but I always had a want and a need for pop music."
Along with her musical rebirth comes a stunning physical change: McPhee recently transformed from a long-haired brunette to a sultry blonde. "I've never done anything crazy like this," she says. "I didn't think I would cut my hair off or go this blonde, but I'm going through changes. Searching for lyrics and meaning in the record just sort of forced me to examine inside and out."
And yet come through to the other side, as McPhee does, Unbroken.