AP: Why so long between albums?
McDonald: Life happened. And I wasn’t quite ready to say anything. I was like, ‘I don’t want to force it. I don’t want to make an album simply to make an album. I need to have something to say.’
AP: Is there a story behind “Edelweiss”?
McDonald: That’s the first song I ever auditioned for anything with. I was 9 years old and my dad played it on the piano for me during my audition. It was for a dinner theater troupe in Fresno, Calif. I got in, and that started me on my theater journey. That song has always had this huge influence.
AP: Has your voice changed in these seven years?
McDonald: I think I understand my voice more than I did seven years ago. I’m much more comfortable with what my voice is than I was seven years ago. I’m not so anxious to sound like someone else. And that’s always been a goal of mine: be comfortable with your own voice, your own sound.
AP: You have five Tonys. Do you hope for a sixth?
McDonald: It’s still not even fathomable to me that I have one, let alone five. It does not compute. In my life, it really doesn’t. Last night, I was walking upstairs after having done three loads of laundry. I came upstairs and turned a corner to another pile of laundry. There’s just so much laundry in my life! Someone with five Tonys shouldn’t have this much laundry! So it doesn’t compute. My life is still my life.
AP: Are you surprised by how fast Americans have come around to embracing the concept of gay marriage?
McDonald: It’s like I describe my labor. I was in preterm labor for three months. So when people ask how long I was in labor, I say ‘Three months and six hours.’ It was the world’s longest labor, but when I actually went in to deliver, it happened like that. That’s what this feels like — it’s been this battle that’s been going on for a long time. And then, all of a sudden, we’re in the last six hours.
AP: Lots of people will hear this, but you won’t be one of them, right?
McDonald: I can’t. I can give notes during the mixing process and then after that I have to step away. I have people that I trust listen to it but I won’t be able to listen to the album for years. I get too close to it. When they sent me the final cut, if I listened to it at that point I would say, ‘Throw the whole thing into the trash. Let’s start over.’
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