From her first scenes as Josh and Reva's hellcat daughter, Marah Shayne Lewis on CBS Daytime's Guiding Light back in 1999, Laura Bell Bundy has had people paying attention. Not only did the striking blonde look like she could be Kim Zimmer's real life daughter, she also possessed the same fiery, emotive acting style which made La Zimmer a daytime legend. It's no wonder the two bonded for life.
After leaving Springfield in 2001, Bell Bundy— who has been appearing on stage since she was a kid— found fame and immense popularity on the Great White Way, starring in such Broadway hits as Hairspray and Legally Blonde: The Musical, the latter in which she made the role of Elle Woods, first played by Reese Witherspoon on the big screen, her very own. Now, with soaps and Broadway conquered, Bell Bundy is poised to take the world of country music by storm, releasing her first major label CD, Achin' and Shakin', on Mercury Nashville(relase date: TBA). I recently caught up with Bell Bundy, as the video for "Giddy On Up" (see the making of below), the first single from her new dual CD, became the most streamed video at CMT.com, even making a fan of the likes of Perez Hilton!
The multi-talented starlet shares with Daytime Confidential.com who some of her country music "sheroes" are. She also talks about how her love for movie musicals informs her entertaining music videos. The singer/actress then opens up about why Guiding Light's 60 Minutes special and final episode made her "bawl like a baby", what it was really like working with Zimmer and Robert Newman (who played her dad Josh on the soap) and if she would have returned for the sudser's finale.
Daytime Confidential: You're primarily recognized for your amazing work on Broadway. After doing show tunes for so long, what made you decide to go country?
Laura Bell Bundy: Honey, I’m from Kentucky! I’ve been loving and singing country music since before I ever did a Broadway show! This is actually the second country record I’ve released. The first one was released in 2007. It was an independent country album, and before that I was in a country duo band with my friend Amber Rhodes that began in 1999, before I did my first Broadway show. I have been singing, writing and seriously pursuing county music for over 10 years, since prior to Hairspray which was in 2002. This is just the first time that I have had major label support and thank God for it! I have finally made the record I’ve always wanted to make!
DC: How'd you come up with the title Achin' and Shakin' ?
LBB: Well, It is a two sided record, basically two albums in one, like an old record where there was an A-side and a B-side. The Achin' side is the slow, sultry, more emotional and introspective side, and the Shakin' side is all up-tempo, fast-paced, sassy and quick-witted. The title represents the two different moods of the album. It also represents the two different sides of my personality. I realize that the title may sound cheesy, but when you listen to the album, it makes perfect sense. I had been trying to think of a title—Inside Out, Black and White, Going Out and Staying In—but I it finally hit me on an airplane to call it Achin' and Shakin'.
DC: Nice! Who are some of your country music "sheroes"?
LBB: Dolly, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Emmylou Harris, Shania Twain, Reba, Lucinda Williams.
DC: The video for Achin' and Shakin's first single "Giddy On Up' is hilarious and very theatrical. Do you think your stage and screen background helps your videos stand out from the average music video offerings?
LBB: Probably. My videos have to tell a story. With "Giddy On Up", I wanted it to seem like a scene taken directly from a movie musical… movie musicals are my big influence when it comes to videos. I just want to entertain people, and some comedy and sexy dance moves is always helpful, you know?
DC: Definitely! "Giddy On Up" has more of a classic country feel to it. It sounds a lot more like Dolly or Tammy than Faith or Carrie. Was that intentional?
The Making of
LBB: It was more natural than intentional. Most of my major musical influences were at the height of their careers prior to when I was born. I like the more classic country sound, and my songwriting is very much influenced by their styles, but with a modern flare.
DC: Who are some of the music industry names you worked with on Achin' and Shakin'?
LBB: Nathan Chapman who also produces Taylor Swift produced the Achin' side, and Mike Shimshack and Kyle Kelso produced the Shakin' side. I wrote co-wrote several of the songs on the album with Mike and Nathan. I was also fortunate enough to write with some amazingly talented and accomplished writers-- Luke Laird, Brice Long, Jeff Cohen, Andrew Dorff, Jerry Flowers, Barry Dean, John Bolinger, Tommy Lee James. Ironically, I am the only female writer on my album. That was not intentional.
DC: Daytime soap opera fans remember you as the fiery Marah Shayne Lewis on Guiding Light. How did you react when you heard about GL being cancelled?
LBB: I was terribly sad. I began GL when I was 18, so I went from my home in Kentucky to my home in “Springfield.” The cast and crew of GL became my family. I will always consider them a very important part of my life and journey as an actress and human being. So, with all of that in mind, it felt like a family was being split up. I bawled like a baby at the finale and the 60 Minutes program they did on GL. Oh, I was a mess!
DC: In an interview with TV Guide Canada last fall, Kim Zimmer, who played your mother on the soap, said she regretted GL didn't bring you back before the finale. Would you have returned if asked?
LBB: I would’ve done anything Kim asked.
DC: Zimmer obviously remembers you fondly. Was it intimidating to be working with her, as well as other huge daytime stars like Robert Newman and Crystal Chappell at such a young age?
LBB: Hell Yes! These people are truly, incredible actors. They inspired me. They challenged me to rise to their level. It was an incredible gift. I learned how to channel my emotions and get over many of my fears. I learned the value of truly connecting with my fellow actors and staying grounded in my work, but, they always made me feel comfortable and capable. Seriously, Kim and Robert were like real parents to me. I bonded with them deeply. I will always hold them and my other fellow GL actors, family members, deep in my heart.
Photo by: Michael Elins