Another night, another celebrity bestie of Nancy Pelosi steps forward. On Tuesday, we learned that there’s actual love between Madam Speaker and triple threat of stage and screen Kristin Chenoweth, in town to collect her award for philanthropy at the Recording Academy’s Grammys on the Hill event.
After Pelosi introduced “this little tiny person with a great big voice,” the 4’11″ blonde (yes, pint-size even in teetering heels to match her mermaid-style gown) enthused about her relationship with the California Democrat, which apparently goes back several years. “She knows I love her!”
Chenoweth told us before the program at the Hamilton began that she had requested that Pelosi be the one to present her with the award, which honors her work with charity group MusiCares and the music-education program she founded in her home state of Oklahoma that holds a Broadway boot camp for aspiring student performers. “When they asked, I said, ‘Madam Speaker! I have seen her love for the arts in action.’”
Also scooping up awards were Grammy-winning gospel singer Yolanda Adams, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
Chenoweth was preparing for her day of meetings with lawmakers — the Recording Industry usually follows the glittery awards night with an advocacy day on Capitol Hill — by practicing her pitch on the importance of arts education for kids. “Even if they don’t become professionals, music gives them so much — discipline, playing well with others, self-love,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to telling my truth to people who can take that and make a difference.”
And in a rowdier portion of the Tuesday program, the tradition of an annual onstage singalong with professional musicians and members of Congress continued, with this year’s selection being the early-1990s earworm “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes. Producer-songwriter Linda Perry (the song’s original vocalist) led the group, summoning lawmakers and fellow musicians including Gavin DeGraw and Lzzy Hale to join in with an unusual-for-Washington summons: “Get up here and be rock stars! Let’s get some Congress [expletive] guys up here!”
That led to a bipartisan performance that saw conservative Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) swaying alongside House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) arm-in-arm with both Reps. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). We should note that the 42-year-old Roby, squarely in the 4 Non Blondes demographic, seemed to be one of the only ones who knew lyrics other than the chantable chorus of “And I say heeeey, yeah, yeah. Hey, yeah, yeah . . . ”