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Idina Menzel Accepts Breakthrough of the Year Honor & Is Surprised by Her Foundation's Children's Choir

Miller Mobley
Idina Menzel photographed on March 17 at Ludlow Studios in New York City.

"Introducing Idina Menzel...what could possibly go wrong?" Savannah Guthrie cracked before introducing Billboard's Breakthrough honoree at our Women in Music event Friday (Dec. 12). 

Guthrie had a bit of a surprise for Menzel. Guthrie began by talking about A BroaderWay, a summer musical theater camp Menzel founded to help kids "find their own voices." "Idina loves these girls," Guthrie explained. "It turns out Idina doesn't just have the voice of an angel, she has the heart of one too." 

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Then roughly a dozen A BroaderWay Choir members came onstage to  sing a "Defying Gravity/Let it Go," mash-up. When Guthrie then brought up Menzel, the singer naturally was pretty tearful.  

 

 

"I wasn't prepared for that!" Menzel began. "If you ever need to be reminded of taking risk, just spend a little time with these wonderful women who come out of this city into the country and escape from their everyday life. They're my inspiration. Thank you."

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Menzel then spoke about how unbelievable it was that she finally received her breakthrough -- that would be singing "Let It Go," the ubiquitous hit from Frozen -- at the age of 43. "Everybody at my table, they've been with me for so many years, when the phone wasn't ringing. [My team] stuck by me and believed in me....I've been around!

"I got to thinking about somethign my mom said to me," Menzel continued. "'You're not really going to make it till you build a thicker skin. The universe won't give it to you until you're ready.' [I'm always] told a Broadway singer can't cross over....'Who are you? Who are you?' [everyone wants to know]. And the answer is....I don't know! I know I'm a cool chick, hard worker, good mom, pretty talented singer. It has taken me this long to realize that if you're easily able to categorize yourself you're probably [shaping into] someone else's opinion of you."

"I was given this amazing song ['Let It Go'] at such a crossroads in my life. Thank you for noticing me...I finally had my breakthrough!"

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