'I love her': Chilina Kennedy on Carole King's 75th birthday
Today (Feb. 9) is Carole King's 75th birthday and for Canadian theatre star Chilina Kennedy, the legendary songwriter's birthday has a particular significance. The Oromocto, New Brunswick-born Kennedy has been playing Carole King on Broadway since March 2015 in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. In June, she'll bring the role from Broadway to Canada when the musical sets up for a run at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto.
Kennedy has had the opportunity to rehearse, perform and have several conversations with King and has nothing but good things to say of her experiences with the famous singer-songwriter.
"She is everything, and more, that people say she is," Kennedy says of King. "She is incredibly generous. She's just a wonderful, warm person. I could not say enough about her. I love her. I was a fan before and I'm even more of a fan now after meeting her."
"Carole very much embodies the 'we,' the 'us' culture — collaboration part of music," Kennedy continues. "She's always giving credit to other people and that's what I love about her and try to be inspired by that and to share that."
In recognition of King's milestone birthday, Kennedy took some time out to speak with q about her relationship to the songs she sings in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Given the depth of King's catalogue, it was hard for Kennedy to pick just one song, but she did select two songs in particular that mean a lot to her.
"'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' [by the Shirelles] has always been one of my favourites, especially because the lyrics were written by Gerry Goffin and it's just one of those songs you kind of associate with the Shirelles and Carole King and it seems such like a female song," says Kennedy. "And it is a female song. But it's surprising always to me when I sing it every night and it's so heartwarming that these songs were co-written by her then husband. But that aside, that song means a lot to a lot of people and me as well."
"But the song 'You Make Me Feel Like A (Natural Woman),' because those lyrics were written by a man — they were written by Gerry Goffin — that song holds a lot of meaning for me every night. And I think it's because the lyrics are 'You make me feel like a natural woman' as opposed to 'Not you make me feel like a sexy woman or a beautiful woman' or whatever, it's a natural woman and for a woman to be told by their partner or a man that they are beautiful just the way they are."
"That they are enough just being their natural selves. I think every woman wants to hear that and to feel that way. You know that they are enough without any makeup; without any of the things that we do to ourselves especially nowadays to make us feel more beautiful. That always touches me. I always feel wonderful singing that song."
— Del Cowie, q digital staff