Following three decades in the spotlight, numerous GRAMMY®, CMA®, and ACM® Awards to her name, countless multiplatinum certifications, and millions of fans entertained, the same passion still motivates and moves Trisha Yearwood. The singer, actress, author, chef, personality, and entrepreneur derives deep fulfillment from simply walking up to a microphone and pouring her heart out. In 2019, she continues that tradition with her first solo full-length since 2007, a collection of Frank Sinatra covers and one original entitled Let’s Be Frank.
“My favorite thing is to go in the studio and make a song mine,” she exclaims. “I haven’t had a chance to do that in a long time though. As much as I love all of the other things I get to do in my life, being in the studio and finding all of these songs feeds my soul.”
Let’s Be Frank represents a full circle moment for the superstar. In fact, its genesis can be traced back to her childhood in Monticello, GA. Among many formative memories, she fondly recalls staying up late, drinking coffee, and watching classic musicals such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, Pal Joey, and more alongside her school teacher mom. At that point, she developed an unwavering appreciation for the American songbook.
Despite covering a handful of such songs throughout her illustrious career, she admits, “I’ve been wanting to do this record for about twenty years, but the time was never right.” However, 2018 would present the right time. She delivered a showstopping rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You” at Sinatra 100 – An All-Star GRAMMY® Concert. Blown away by the performance, the show’s musical director, legendary producer Don Was, recognized her love for the material right off the bat. As kindred spirits, they agreed to collaborate on an homage to Sinatra. Coming off the road after a record-breaking marathon 400-show two-year tour alongside husband Garth Brooks, Trisha, Don, 24-time GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Al Schmitt, and arranger Vincent Mendoza retreated to the Los Angeles stomping grounds of Ol’ Blue Eyes: Capitol Records. At Don’s urging, Trisha wrote down the first twelve Sinatra staples that came to mind for recording, and they cut those in just four days.
Backed by a 55-piece orchestra, she sat on the Chairman of the Board’s stool and sang into his microphone, breathing new life into one of the most celebrated catalogs in history. Along the way, she recognized a synergy between the country she remains renowned for and these classics.
“My job was to make it about the song,” she goes on. “Oddly, it was very similar to my approach to country. It starts with reading the story and telling it. You take yourself out of it except for the fact that you’re a character in the narrative. Songs have always been like mini-movies for me. You can paint your own picture in your head. I read about how Frank really studied the lyrics and read them like poetry. You can’t sing a song, if you don’t know what the conversation is. That’s something I’ve always tried to do. Working with this 55-piece orchestra in this studio was really the experience of a lifetime,” she beams. “I’ve made a lot of records and I’ve had a lot of fun, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had more fun than that.”
That spirit courses through Let’s Be Frank. “Come Fly With Me” takes flight on her dynamic delivery, while she adds a touch of delicate magic to the swooning “Over The Rainbow.” Backed by boisterous horns, she adds sass and spunk to “Lady Is A Tramp,” assuming the role of “a woman who knows what she wants and runs her own game.” Elsewhere, “I’ll Be Seeing You” echoes a tearful goodbye with powerful and palpable emotion. Meanwhile, “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” stirs the jazz-y swagger of the original into the perfect sonic night cap punctuated by simmering soul. Fittingly, she recorded an accompanying performance video of the latter at the icon’s Palm Springs home.
“I love that song,” she says. “We found this great black-and-white YouTube video of Frank singing it. His treatment of the arrangement and vibe is very conversational. He gets a drink and even lights a cigarette between verses,” she laughs. “It’s just classic Frank.”
She also contributes a show-stopping original to this collection. Co-written by Trisha and Garth, “For The Last Time” feels as if it could’ve been born amidst the fifties golden age. A tender ballad upheld by cinematic strings and soft piano, she croons with conviction and charisma, “Now for the first time, I’m in love for the last time.” “It’s my story,” she continues. “It basically says, ‘This is not my first time around the block, but I finally get it.’ I understand why everything didn’t work out before, because this love is what I was waiting for. It speaks to our relationship and my life. It’s me.”
Much like Frank, she emerged as a timeless entertainer whose influence permeates multiple facets of culture. Beyond twelve studio albums, she hosts the EMMY® Award-winning Food Network hit Trisha’s Southern Kitchen and Facebook Live “pre-show,” T’s Coffee Talk. At the forefront of a veritable lifestyle empire, she penned three New York Times-bestselling cookbooks and has designed cookware, furniture, home accessories, and area rugs. Trisha has also collaborated with Williams Sonoma on her signature best-selling cocktail mixes like “Summer in a Cup,” “Autumn in a Cup,” and “Christmas in a Cup” as well as a variety of food products ranging from a signature biscuit mix to a complete Thanksgiving Dinner.
At the same time, she set her sights on the next all original album. “I’m working on a country record now, and I’m having the best time, because it’s what I do and what I’m supposed to do,” she smiles.
By doing what she’s meant to, Trisha preserves an everlasting connection to listeners worldwide.
“I always want people to relate to music in a way that I do,” she leaves off. “When I hear those songs, I’m taken to another world. I want you to get a good sense of me. The biggest compliment is when someone adores my show and feels like we can be friends. I want people to leave feeling like they got to know me better.”