This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 7, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: She is amazing — already a singer, actress and star from "American Idol." Moments ago Katherine McPhee went "On the Record" about her new CD "Unbroken" and so much more.
VAN SUSTEREN: Katharine, it's nice to see you.
KATHARINE MCPHEE, SINGER: Hey, Greta, how are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. Today I downloaded the brand new CD "Unbroken." I'm a little bit late, I guess. It came out the 5th?
MCPHEE: January 5th. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: And it is fun to listen to. You must be incredibly excited about it.
MCPHEE: Yes, thank you. It has definitely been a journey. It was about a year and a half that I worked on it. I took myself out of the whole craziness of living in L.A., coming off of "Idol," and I came up with a different vibe for the second record.
VAN SUSTEREN: You worked on in a number of cities. Where did you work on this?
MCPHEE: I went to Nashville. Actually, the head of Universal, Doug Morris, suggested that I go there because there are so many great song writers there. And I went there four different times, stayed there with people, found a group of people that I really liked.
Of course I wrote in L.A., but about half the record I wrote myself. It was a big journey just as far as learning to write my own songs and what I wanted to write about. It was definitely a more personal record this time around.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is funny, when you were on "American Idol" the entire world watched you. And now we get to see this whole new look, obviously, physically a new look, but this whole new album which seems to me that you enjoyed doing. It seemed like it was something that was as much fun as watching you on "Idol."
MCPHEE: Yes, I actually I'm having a lot of fun. In this business you have to find a way to make it fun and young and keep it as fresh as it was when you were a kid and you had the dream of being a singer. I'm having with this new record, staring the promo this week, and being able to sing songs that resonate and tell stories. So it's very exciting. I'm also so excited I'm on your show.
VAN SUSTEREN: We are excited to have you. But singing isn't your only thing or writing songs. You have been on "CSI." You've been acting.
MCPHEE: Yes, I have. I did "House Bunny," a couple years back, which is a cute girl comedy. I actually studied in college, for the three semesters that I stayed in school, I don't recommend that, but I studied theater, and in high school I was involved in the drama department. It's not something I talk about all the time because I feel like it sounds cliche, "I want to be an actress," but it is definitely something I'm pursuing and taking time with and just looking for the right project. So I'm enjoying myself with being able to do things like "CSI: New York," I did "Ugly Betty" a long time ago. So it's definitely another side of me that I'm trying to pursue.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you have many years ahead of you, because you are lucky you are very young. But going back to "Idol," when you started competing in "Idol," not before we got towards the end, but when you started competing, did you ever dream it would unfold like this?
MCPHEE: No, I definitely didn't know what to expect, because on the show you are just not quite sure. Are you going to get a career, are you not? Are you going to get a record deal? Actually I'm going back to the acting thing.
I went on "Idol" because I had just left school, I was pursuing acting, and people were like you should go on "Idol." I was like I don't know, I want to do the acting thing. I was thinking of getting myself a better agent in the acting side of things. And the next thing I knew I had a record deal, which was a huge dream of mine, too. So I've been able to out of that process get both things for the things I want to achieve.
VAN SUSTEREN: In the new CD it seems like the song everyone loves is "Had It All." That seems to be the favorite. Do you think that is the favorite so far, and if so, why is that?
MCPHEE: Well, I'm not quite sure. I think it is just because that's the first single and it's the first one out on radio now. It's on the adult contemporary charts. I'm not quite sure. I like getting on my Twitter, I love getting different comments from people. That's definitely one of my favorites. I actually do a cover of — what is the song? "Brand New Key," if you can remember that from a while back by the artist Melanie, that is my one cover on the record. A lot of people like that song because a lot of people from my age don't really even know that song from that time period. So I have a lot of different types of songs that different people like, so that's good.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the weirdest music in the sense of what I would be surprised that you listen to?
MCPHEE: I don't know if it's weird. I love listening to classical music. I'm not a hard rock person, so that would have been a better answer if I did like hard rock. But probably classical. Ever since I was a kid I would play classical music to fall asleep to. My mom used to tell would make you smarter, listening to classical music. I don't know if that is true but it definitely helped relax me.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ozzy Osbourne told me he listened to Frank Sinatra a lot. That always struck me as unusual for him.
MCPHEE: Yes, with Ozzy Osbourne that's kind of a weird combination, but, I mean, who doesn't like Frank Sinatra really?
VAN SUSTEREN: With all your enormous success, the acting, singing, the new CD, I think probably you know what I admire you most for is the outreach you are doing in Africa.
VAN SUSTEREN: The viewers need to know what you are doing in Africa.
MCPHEE: Well, I had a connection in Africa, a country called Burkina- Faso, and it's the third poorest country in Africa. And I actually seven members living there, working out there, and there was this need for a pre-school to be built there. And I started a thing called McPhee Outreach, and I was able to put finances together to help build this school. And it was supposed to be for 90 children, and I think now it's up to 120. And it's actually one of the lowest literacy rates for African women in that country as well. So we are making big changes there.
It is not like something for me to plug where people can send money. I don't even have that set up in a charity foundation yet. But I just — I wanted to see if I could, someone I feel as small as me could make a difference in these people's lives. And I don't want to just do it in Africa. I'm working with Feeding America, which is an incredible organization that's trying to conquer hunger.
And I think that you can make a difference in such small ways but really impact people. And the McPhee Outreach, that was a way to help. And it was just really amazing to be able to get videos sent to me of this school that was being built, and that I was the reason it was being able to help. And I give all the glory to God, really, because I just, you know it's — that's just the way I look at it.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is fun to see your great stardom. It's fun to listen to your new CD "Unbroken." But even more importantly it is refreshing to see what you are using with the power of stardom, you are doing other good things.
MCPHEE: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Wish you the best of luck and look forward to the next CD.
MCPHEE: Thank you for having me on your show.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thanks for joining us.
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