Audra McDonald Used ‘Private Practice’ to Conquer TV Fear

*Audra McDonald has been hosting this season’s “Live From Lincoln Center” series on PBS, but she’s set to command center stage next month for the show’s season finale.

The special, titled “Audra McDonald In Concert: Go Back Home,” will see the “Private Practice” star and five-time Tony Award winner performing a gala concert at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. Her song list will include numbers from a variety of musical theater composers featured on her upcoming album, “Go Back Home,” her first solo effort in seven years.

Picking the songs for the album and the special, she explains, comes down to whether or not she gets a visceral reaction from the music and lyrics.

“It’s really a gut reaction that I have to the material immediately,” she told us during interviews for the special. “I know pretty quickly, and it’s not passing judgment on songs that I choose not to sing, because it has more to do with whether or not I feel a connection to it.”

“And I can feel a connection to many songs that I won’t necessarily sing – because I don’t think they’re right for me,” she adds. “But if there is something in my gut that immediately responds in a way that I know, ‘That’s a song that I would be able to interpret’; that resonates with me in some way, whether it’s something comic or a ballad or something that’s contemplative or whatever, it has to resonate within my gut. There’s no science to it. I wish I had a scientific mind, but I don’t.”

After leaving Los Angeles-based “Private Practice” in 2011 to be closer to her family in New York, including her 12-year-old daughter Zoe, McDonald returned for January’sseries finale – wrapping a gig that she only took as a way to conquer her fear of the small screen.

…Yes, the five-time Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran chose to fly back and forth between L.A. and her various theater projects in NYC for four years during her run on the Shonda Rhimes series – just to face her fear of television.

She explains below.

“Audra McDonald In Concert: Go Back Home” airs on PBS stations on Friday, May 24 at 9 p.m.

Below, Audra says she and the Lincoln Center go way back.

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