Rita Wilson

Singer / Songwriter

Interview with Rita Wilson

 

Although Rita Wilson is well-known as an actress (It’s Complicated, Sleepless in Seattle, The Good Wife) and a film producer (discovered My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Mamma Mia!), few may be aware that her early show biz ambitions were actually musical. Born and raised in the Hollywood Hills (nearly above the Hollywood Bowl), Wilson harbored dreams of becoming a singer in the 60′s and 70′s after falling in love with The Beatles, The Mamas & the Papas, Janis Joplin, and The Supremes, among others. She even took a part-time job as a ticket-taker at what was then the Universal Amphitheatre as a way to see such popular acts of the day as Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor, and The Eagles.

Wilson has finally achieved her dream with the Decca Records release of her debut album AM/FM – an intimate, elegant, and beautifully sung collection of classics from the ’60s and ’70s that, taken together, make up the soundtrack to her life. “That time period was hugely influential on me as a kid and as a teenager,” she says. “I’d spend hours and hours lying on my bed, holding up the albums, reading the liner notes, and learning all the words to these songs that expressed exactly what I was feeling. They were like a little road map of human experience. Back then, we would even memorize the names of the musicians and photographers. There wasn’t a ‘thank you’ mentioned on a liner note that wasn’t studied and analyzed.”

Carefully curated by Wilson, her producer, Fred Mollin, and Decca Records’ Senior VP of A&R Jay Landers, AM/FM is filled with songs that resonate emotionally with Wilson. “I can remember where I was when I heard each one and what it meant to me,” she says. The album is essentially divided into two sections. The first half, “AM,” features songs from the ’60s that Wilson remembers singing along to on AM radio while riding in the back seat of her parents’ car and that recall the “lovely innocence and hopefulness of the time”.

Making AM/FM, which was recorded last spring at the legendary Capitol Records Studio A in Hollywood, is a natural progression for Wilson. Over the last few years she has appeared as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway, served as a producer on the film version of the stage musical Mamma Mia!, and recorded the song “Lessons Learned,” by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Diane Warren for The Trap, a short film Wilson directed as part of Glamour magazine’s “Reel Moments” series. AM/FM came about through conversations Wilson had with Landers about selecting songs to cover for a potential theatrical show. After hearing a demo of Wilson singing “Wichita Lineman,” Landers suggested she make an album instead and Wilson happily agreed.

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