“All of the women I know—my girlfriends, the women I respect and go to when I need advice—they have all experienced a similar thing,” actor, producer, and music artist Rita Wilson tells American Songwriter over the phone. “We are not just this one thing—we are multifaceted. Especially nowadays women are out doing more than being moms, they are working and doing interesting things outside of the home, and trying to taking care of themselves in ways that are not always easy to do.”
As a mother of two sons, the wife of Tom Hanks, the producer of films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Mamma Mia!, an actor in Sleepless In Seattle, Runaway Bride, It’s Complicated, and several others, her identity as a musician was tertiary for several years.
With four studio albums under her belt, as well as a string of recent singles including “I Wanna Kiss Bob Dylan,” “Where’s My Country Song,” “What I Would Say,” “Pray for Peace” and “Everybody Cries” from the film The Outpost, Wilson meticulously crafted a bold next step into her artistry. The Trilogy Series is an all-encompassing collection of music to re-introduce the public figure, shining a light on her dynamic personal intricacies, and honoring women everywhere who graciously uphold several selves.
“I think there is a private side of me, there is a public side of me, and there is an even more private side—which is that creative person,” she explains. “We rarely show all of those different facets at the same time, if at all. So I wanted to explore what that feels like.”
She points to a line in the title track “Trilogy” of her new collection: I wish I had a secret house / I’d move right in and block the others out /I’d pick up a guitar / And learn to play. The song opens the second of Wilson’s three-part collection of EPs. Trilogy 1, 2, and 3, each composed of three tracks, reveal those separate selves within uniquely bold soundscapes.
Pulling songs from her catalog, some dating back several years, she started to see a theme emerge in her mind. “I started thinking about triptychs and how each panel shows one aspect of a painting,” she explains. “In actual triptychs, the panels can be folded so that only part of the art is seen. That’s often how I feel. I’m showing one side of myself or maybe two but the complete picture is hidden.”
On March 26, she released Trilogy 1, the first chapter of the collection. The entrance, she says, is about “the exuberance and exhilaration of falling and being in love, and all of the joy that comes from that.”
Wilson co-wrote the three new tracks on Trilogy 1 with an amazing group of collaborators including Kristian Bush from Sugarland, Kara Dioguardi (Gwen Stefani, Pink), Mozella (Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson), and Liz Rose (Taylor Swift). She also co-produced all three tracks, along with producer Ron Aiello (Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain) on “You’re the Music” and “Floating On A Feeling,” and Wendy Wang (Elle King, Lauren Jauregui) on “Oh, Love”.
Released May 28, Trilogy 2 introduces women in a new setting. It covers their role in the workplace, encouraging women to speak up, not be afraid to use their voice. Co-produced by Jennifer Decilveo, and penned with Jeff Trott, who she was introduced to through Sheryl Crow, the angsty “Boss of Me” follows “Trilogy.” Trott, who co-wrote hits like “My Favorite Mistake” and “If It Makes You Happy,” shaped a fresh blend of alt-country with rock undertones that evoke the freedom found in breaking the chains of external opinion and expectations.
“We’re Back,” co-penned with Andrew Richard Burns and Shari Lynn Short, is a fitting response to the current context of things. Chad Carlson’s production behind Wilson’s vocal levity lends to a more pop-leaning country sound that pulls the listener back up on their feet.
“Even if you’ve had a negative experience, you can still come back on top,” she says, “not dwell in the depths of your despair.”
Due later this year is the third and final chapter of Wilson’s memoir-put-to-music. Trilogy 3, she says, is the most personal and highlights courage. The ballad-Esque tracks chronicle her experience, beginning with her immigrant parents’ inspiring love story.
Coming into music later in her career, wise mentors imparted the sage wisdom to not chase trends. As a songwriter, Wilson says, “There are certain things I feel very connected to—storytelling, melody, of course, a nice hook, but most importantly, some sort of emotional connection. Whether it’s screaming at the top of your lungs with the top down, or sitting alone on your bedroom floor for a good cry, that ability to connect with the listener has to combine with my stories. That’s all I am trying to do here.”
Listen to Rita Wilson’s Trilogy 2, here.