It’s been a little over six months since Kathie Lee Gifford said goodbye to the TODAY show and handed her co-hosting reins over to Jenna Bush Hager. Now she’s opening up about how things have changed for her as she settles into a new life in Nashville.
The long-time talk show host felt compelled to start fresh after the passing of her husband, Frank Gifford, in 2015. That coupled with her children — son Cody, 29, and daughter Cassidy, 26 — no longer living in the family’s Connecticut home, inspired her to finally pick herself up and move to Tennessee for a change of scenery. “Here’s the bad news — I’m a widow, an orphan, and an empty-nester,” she told the Nashville Tennessean. “The good news is, I have the freedom of a widow, an orphan, and an empty-nester.”
For Gifford, that freedom has allowed her to refocus on one of her biggest passions: music. Along with her TV duties, she has released 16 albums throughout her career. Although she no longer performs very much (she suffered a serious case of double pneumonia left her lungs with scar tissue 15 years ago), she is still able to collaborate and create new songs with fellow musicians in Nashville. “I’ve got all the time to spend my days writing," she revealed. “I’m having the life I could’ve only ever dreamed of. I had these childhood dreams that I never had time to make happen. Now I do.” What an amazing example of realizing it's never too late to go after what you really want in life.
While working with Christian and country artists, Gifford has taken a particular liking to composing oratorios based on stories from the Bible. She invites artists to come over to her home where writing sessions usually begin with a "beautiful lunch" before long conversations get the brainstorming process started. “They sit around and talk and yaw and chaw and, you know, scratch and chew,” she explained laughing. “And an hour’s gone by and I’m going, ‘Have we written anything?’”
When they finally do get down to putting words to music, Gifford will first let them all skim through her “mounds of lyrics” that she writes on a daily basis. If none of those fit, they’ll come up with something new on the spot. “These are just gifts from God,” she said referring to the whole creative process. “I’m just trying to keep them growing.” It certainly sounds like she’s found the perfect place to find community and embrace her next act in life.
And while Gifford might not be releasing any albums with her singing on them, we’ll certainly be on the lookout for what she and her crew of collaborators will have in store for us in the future!