Estella: You recently attended the CMA Awards
show, held in New York for the first time. What did you think of the move to the Big Apple?
Shawn: I thought it was fantastic!
I love New York! Country music is not just a "southern thing" or a farm[-oriented], blue collar business anymore. People seem
to have embraced country music over the last decade. It used to be amongst people in the city, they would say, "I hate country
music!" But now, I think it's the "hip" thing to like country music. People can't deny anymore that it's a driving force in
the music business.
[A call comes in, which she takes.]
Shawn: That was Larry. He's been working on Shrek.
[NOTE: Larry was Doris the bartender in Shrek II. He phoned Shawn to tell her he'd finished voiceovers for his part in
the forthcoming sequel.]
Estella: So, he'll be in Shrek III, then?
Shawn: Yes! He'll have a much bigger
part. He's singing a duet with Regis Philbin, the Rosemary Clooney song "Sisters." [She launches into an impromptu solo
of the song.] And, Larry's tone deaf, so that should be interesting! But he gets an A+ for enthusiasm! Actually, on the
DVD version of Shrek II, they do a singing contest and Larry's voice won for "Best Song" or "Best Performance"! You
know, Larry could have a smash record before I do!
Estella: But, you're the one with a CD!
Shawn: I am the one with
a CD; I have a jumpstart on that part!
Estella: Being that your parents were a major record company executive and a
top Hollywood studio singer, respectively, how did that affect your musical background, in terms of what kinds of music you
grew up listening to?
Shawn: It affected it profoundly! Some of my earliest memories are being in recording studios and
remembering the smell of cigarettes! My family never smoked, so that was a very distinct memory I was exposed to so many genres
of music that I have an appreciation for all sorts. I remember my dad would take me to Capitol Records; I would sit under
his desk and color while he was having meetings with artists like The Beach Boys, Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry, Anne Murray
– I was lucky enough to be able to see [the industry] from the inside out. There are certain genres that touch me in
a deeper place, but I just love music! The power of music is so huge! If you view a movie without its soundtrack and then
you watch the same movie with the soundtrack, that music can scare the daylights out of you, it can fill you with joy, sorrow,
anxious, or love! Music is truly the universal language.
Estella: Does it feel different to be interviewed than being
the one conducting an interview?
Shawn: Asking questions, getting to know the people who made the movies, I had been in
their shoes – I had acted before and I was a journalist – so it came very naturally. It was a really magical and
fun time in my life, but I don't think it felt different. It's just a different aspect of the entertainment business. Let's
say my dad was a baker. So today, we're going to make bread, tomorrow it's cupcakes – make sure you get the frosting
right! – and the next day it's doughnuts. They're all different but yet the same concept. It was easier to ask the questions
than it is to answer them. I had a natural curiosity, so that made it fun to be able to ask whatever I wanted. Certain times,
if people were going through a divorce or another sticky situation, they would request I not ask about those things. I always
respected that, because there are plenty of other stuff to talk about! People's private life – if they want to keep
that private, that's their right. And, I think it got me further along than trying to "break" the latest story; that wasn't
what I did. Hollywood Insider wasn't a gossip show, but rather a celebrity-friendly show.
Estella: Take us through the working process
of your album, In My Own Backyard. What kinds of songs were you looking to record and how long did it take for you
to find those songs?
Shawn: From the time I began recording with Keith Follesť and Carl Jackson, it was two and a half
years before the CD actually released. [The songs on the album are] a bit of a casserole! But, that's just me, because I chose
songs that I really loved! The process of selecting which songs were going to go on this album was excruciating! It was as
though I had to choose between my children, because each song we worked on became like a part of my fiber, being, and family!
You co-wrote the song "Closet of Ruby Red Slippers." What inspired it?
Shawn: Carl [Jackson] and I were talking about,
"What message do we want to send out there?" We started talking about going back in time, decisions that you make, and that
even though sometimes we may make choices that we regret, our lives are full of wonderful memories! The things that I cherish
the most are my family, friends, and my relationship with God. There is no escaping from challenges in your life no matter
if you're a millionaire or someone struggling with finances, whether you're married or single. The driving force of that song
is, during those tough times, don't forget the good times and the blessings you have. Remember those people who have been
there for you through thick and thin.
Estella: That's a beautiful message and as a listener, I think it really comes
through in that song!
Shawn: I always want to send messages of hope. It doesn't really matter what challenges come our
way; what matters is how we deal with them. It's like a muscle – if there's never any resistance and you're not having
to tug, pull, and work that muscle, it is not going to be strong! When I used to teach Sunday school, there's another analogy
I used. If you look in a garden and see a weed that's never been touched – that weed can grow to look magnificent, like
it's the biggest and strongest thing in that garden. But, if there’s a smaller weed that's been tugged even a little
bit, the roots will naturally grab into the ground a little tighter. The more it's tugged, the deeper the roots will try to
hold on to that earth, because that's its sustenance. It's like if people have never had any difficulties in their life, then
when the first obstacle hits them, they fall apart! They've never had to face any challenges so they're not equipped to deal
with it. Well then, you go and tug on that other weed that may not have grown as tall above the ground. But if you look beneath
where the roots are, that plant is the one that's going to stay strong. They may not be the most beautiful plant from what
we see above the ground, but the fiber that’s inside them is the part that has been tested, tugged, and pulled, and
it's strong. It will stay and hold fast if it learns to dig deep in the right spot.
Estella: Having previously worked
on television, was it difficult switching over to recording music?
Shawn: I'd been doing it forever, so there were no surprises
when I went into the studio. The only difference was before, I was singing backup for somebody else and now it's my project.
What prodded me along was [the organizers] of the 2002 Olympics wanted people who had connections with the state of Utah to
contribute to a commemorative CD. They asked me to record a song that David Foster produced. Don Rickles heard it and asked
me, "How would you like to open for me in Las Vegas?" I said, "Sure! That sounds like a lot of fun!" – not really thinking
through of everything it would entail. But, I really try hard to stick to my commitments, so once I said, "Yes," I started
digging in. I surrounded myself with the best people I possibly could, and I couldn't have had a better team to help me: Debby
Allen and her staff worked with me on the staging of the show. George Slaughter worked with me on what I was going to say.
Sheila E was available to be my percussionist, and Jerry Williams, who is an unbelievable composer and arranger, was my musical
director. Well then, I got bitten really bad by the [performing] bug! And, Larry pretty much said, "There's too much there
for you to just hide it all under a rock! You'd be doing yourself a disservice." So I [went in to record my album], and I'm
glad I did because I'm having a blast! It's really, really fun!
Estella: Those are some lovely photos included in the
Shawn: Thank you! Randee St. Nicholas is the woman who took them! She's a really sweet and a very nice person
to work with, which makes it that much more fun! She's really good at knowing your best angles and how to make everything
come together; I couldn't be happier with her work! When we did that series of photos in the middle [of the booklet], somebody
had said something that made me laugh and she caught it all on film. It shows how I react when I laugh at something funny.
It sounds like you had a ball working on your debut album. Will there be a follow-up album from you?
There's a lot more to come! I have a whole other CD ready to go, as soon as this current CD plays itself out! It's in the
can already! We may find some other songs that we record later, but we've got some really, really great gems.
While you were a reporter, did you ever watch yourself on television?
Shawn: Oh, I always did! It was exciting to see which
sound bytes we ended up using and how each piece or story turned out!
|Shawn and Larry King
Estella: Do you watch Larry's show?
I watch a good portion of his shows. It's on at 6:00 [at night], so I'm sometimes getting the boys ready for dinner or giving
them their baths. But, we try to keep it in the background. Larry's so sweet! It's important to him that I watch his show;
if I don't, he gets disappointed. I want to make him happy; that's my job; I think it's a wife's job to be a partner and a
comfort to her husband.
Estella: How do you and Larry maintain a sense of balance between your respective careers and
raising your children?
Shawn: Priorities are always in the forefront of my life. If it's a choice between my husband and
my children or my career, my career has to wait. Don't get me wrong, my career is very important to me; you do have to focus,
and I've worked really hard on my CD. I have a blast doing it, it fills me up, and it is so much fun!! But, what fills
me up even more is reading to my kids and tucking them in bed at night. I take my kids with me as much as I possibly can –
I think it's really important that your kids know what you’re doing when you tell them, "Bye, bye. I'm going to work
now." So, they went to the studio with me and we take them to CNN to watch Daddy; they know those processes. When I need to
be away, I tell them, "Mommy's going away for four days, so each of you pick four books. I'll take them with me and before
you go to bed each night, I'm going to read you those book." We have this chat [device] where we can see each other's faces
on the computer. They tell me about their day and I tell them about mine; that's how we stay connected. If they have a scratch
on their knee, I tell them to put their knee up to the screen and my lips go right to their boo-boo. When things are in order
at home, everything else seems to fall into place pretty well. Everything can't be perfect all the time; I just do my best.