May 9, 2012 at 11:22 AM ET
Rod Stewart did it. Michael McDonald did it. Even Paul McCartney did it. Now the newest musical artist to put together a CD of oldies covers is ... Rita Wilson? Yep, that Rita Wilson -- the one best known for acting on stage and screen, producing the movies "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Mamma Mia!" and being married to Tom Hanks.
But Wilson is also a singer and she decided recently the time was right for her to release a CD of cover versions of tunes she loved in her youth. Since the 55-year-old Wilson grew up during the 1960s and 1970s, the album covers both of those musical eras, hence its title, "AM/FM." The CD dropped May 8 and Wilson discussed it on Wednesday on TODAY.
As its title suggests, “AM/FM” is a CD that spans the spectrum of two musical eras. Its first half is filled with songs she remembered listening to on AM radio while riding in the back seat of her parents’ car. Songs such as the We Five’s “You Were on My Mind,” the Association’s “Cherish,” and the Supremes' “Come See About Me,” for which Wilson made a video.
The second half includes songs from the ’70s and ’80s that Wilson considers FM staples, such as Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston,” Glen Campbell’s “Faithless Love,” and Carole King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (originally an AM radio hit for the Shirelles).
“The criteria for choosing the songs was about the story that was being told in the songs, and not only the melody or songs that were recognizable for me or other people,” said Wilson in a recent interview. “Like a good movie starts with a good script, I felt that the songs had to start with a good story and music.”
Unlike a lot of celebrity CD releases, the phrases “vanity project” and “Auto-tune” don’t apply here; Wilson can really sing. She’s not only proven her vocal mettle by singing live in the Broadway production of the musical “Chicago,” but is performing live dates in support of the album. A bunch of well-known musicians have also supported her and made guest appearances on the CD, including Chris Cornell, Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, and Patti Scialfa, who also produced “Come See About Me.” Talk about spanning the musical spectrum.