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Album Review

Fresh from her Tony Award-nominated stint in the Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, Oklahoma singer/actress Kelli O'Hara returns to her recording career sideline with her second studio album, Always. Unlike her Harry Connick Jr.-arranged debut, Wonder in the World, which featured songs by Billy Joel, Don McLean, and James Taylor, its 13 tracks are back on safer show tune territory, as she belts out numbers from several of the productions she's starred in, including My Fair Lady ("I Could Have Danced All Night") and Bells Are Ringing ("The Party's Over"), while also adding a neat twist by tackling songs traditionally performed by male leads such as Sunday in the Park with George's "Finishing the Hat" and South Pacific's "This Nearly Was Mine." Elsewhere, there are covers of standards from The King and I ("Something Wonderful"), The Bridges of Madison County ("Another Life"), and Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night ("What More Do I Need") alongside pieces from less familiar musicals She Loves Me ("He Loves Me") and Floyd Collins ("How Glory Goes"). Apart from the jazz violin reworking of Irving Berlin's "Always," producers Dan Lipton and Lawrence Manchester stick closely to the originals, allowing O'Hara's timeless, versatile, and characterful vocals to shine, without being obtruded by overly fussy arrangements. But the sole new composition, the brilliantly titled "They Don't Let You in the Opera (If You're a Country Star)," a mini-musical in itself that sees her drift from a Nashville twang to operatic soprano in the blink of an eye, provides the album's highlight. With such striking original material, one hopes that O'Hara may leave the covers behind next time round, but for now, Always is an ever-charming journey through musical theater history that cements her position as one of Broadway's best leading ladies. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Kelli does it again!!

If you liked Wonder in the World, you will LOVE always. Pick it up and enjoy...always.


I really like Kelli O' Hara and have been following her career since Piazza, but I'm not a fan of this album as much. Two of the songs especially, that being How Glory Goes and Finishing the Hat which are written to be sung by men in the context of their respective shows. I'm aware that Audra McDonald has covered How Glory Goes as well and she was able to pull it off because of the passion she puts into the song, unlike Kelli who is too laid back. I love the jazz feel and lazy songstress disposition that she embodies especially with Harry Connick Jr. in Thou Shalt Not but it's not always the best way to sing a song as emotionally powerful as Glory.

Versatile Broadway Star

The incredible range and talent of this Broadway star is on display in the seven minute tour de force that is "They Don't Let You in the Opera." Listen to it. Otherwise I'm not crazy about the song selection, with too many Sondheim or Sondheim sound-alike songs (to be fair, which I generally have no interest in being, "What More Do I Need" is a likeable love song).

But mainly I hope that Kelli O'Hara resists the advice to try her luck on the West Coast and stays on Broadway, and that someone writes a role in a new musical which displays her acting and vocal skills as well as the role of Francesca did in Madison County, but with much better support from the other elements of the show of which she has no control.


Born: April 16, 1976 in Elk City, OK

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A three-time Tony Award nominee, singer and actress Kelli O'Hara is a Broadway regular. Born in Oklahoma, O'Hara earned a bachelor's degree in music from Oklahoma City University and studied opera and vocals with Florence Birdwell, who also taught Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. After winning the State Metropolitan Opera Competition, O'Hara moved to New York and debuted on Broadway in 2000 in Jeckyl and Hyde. She then followed up with roles in Follies in 2001, Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Kelli O'Hara

Always, Kelli O'Hara
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