Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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Rita Wilson is tuning up with a new album, Troubadour show

April 30, 2012 |  9:01 pm

Rita Wilson's filmography is peppered with pop music, including "Raise Your Voice" (in which she played the mother of an aspiring singer) and the big-screen version of "Mamma Mia!" (which she and her husband, Tom Hanks, executive produced). Next week the L.A. native takes the mike herself with "AM/FM," an album featuring interpretations of 14 hits from the 1960s and ’70s. Wilson spoke with Pop & Hiss ahead of her gig Friday night at the Troubadour.

You picked some great songs for "AM/FM": "Wichita Lineman," the Supremes’ "Come See About Me," "Never My Love" by the Association. Choosing what to sing must have taken forever.

Completely. We started with a lot of songs -- at least 100, maybe more. I looked at each song as a monologue: What is this person trying to say?

Did that make you hear anything in a new way?

I grew up a first-generation American, and my mom drilled into us that our reputations were so important. So "Angel of the Morning," when I first heard it as a teenager, I thought it was sung from a teenager's point of view. It was this story about a young girl who decides to sleep with this guy; then it's the reality of, ‘Oh my God -- he didn't really love me!’ When I started recording it, I thought of it differently: This could be a woman who's had a whole life, and now she's just longing for some kind of companionship.

The album's title implies a relationship with the radio. How do you discover new music?

I still use the radio -- FM and XM [satellite radio]. I also have kids, so they keep me fresh on some of the current music.

Your son Chester scored a viral rap hit last year under the name Chet Haze. Should we expect to see a family band soon?

Yes, we're touring as the Hanks 5 [laughs]. When they were growing up, I was pretty adamant that they take music lessons. I didn't try to tell them what instrument to learn, so they tried different things: trumpet, piano, bass, drums. But they all still play music, and that was the goal.


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Photo: Actress/singer Rita Wilson performs onstage during Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIII held at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. Credit: Mike Moore / Getty Images