Audra McDonald's highly anticipated third recording, "Happy Songs," will be released in stores in late summer, the singer told Playbill On-Line.
In a marked departure for the vocalist, who typically lends her voice to the work of young theatre composers, the CD will consist of big band music from the early decades of the 20th century.
"It's all big band music," she stated. "It's all from the '20s, '30s and '40s. There are a few cheats past then, but for the most part [it's from that time]."
Among the selections are "Ill Wind" by Harold Arlen, "I Must Have That Man" by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh and "On a Turquoise Cloud" by Duke Ellington. She is backed up on the album by anywhere from four to 30 musicians, depending on the song. Ted Sperling is the music director.
McDonald's first album, 1998's "Way Back to Paradise," was a surprise success for its label, Nonesuch. If was followed up by 2000's "How Glory Goes," a mix of old (Harold Arlen) and new (Adam Guettel) songs. McDonald's solo Carnegie Hall debut, on Nov. 2, will consist entirely of selections from "Happy Songs."