Growing up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood at her grandmother’s house in North Carolina made Kellie Pickler a perfect go-to to record a new version of the late Fred Rogers’ “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” premiering exclusively below from the upcoming tribute album Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music & Memories.
Nevertheless, the American Idol finalist and Dancing With the Stars champ tells Billboard that she’s “shocked seeing my name in the list amongst the incredible performers and artists on this album,” which includes the Monkees’ Micky Dolenz, Jon Secada, Lee Greenwood, the Cowsills, the Fifth Dimension duo of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. and others. Rita Wilson, whose husband Tom Hanks portrays Rogers in the November biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, sings “Sometimes People Are Good.” The album comes out Oct. 25 to mark the start of Thank You Mister Rogers Month.
“Doing this immediately took me back to my childhood,” says Pickler, who was raised by her grandparents from the time she was 12. “My grandmother was very particular about what I was allowed to watch on TV, as grandmas should be. When I was with her she only wanted good things to be in front of me, and Mister Rogers was that safe place. It was for so many people, I think, a safe place.”
Pickler gives “It’s Such a Good Feeling” a robust delivery that begins with a measured, soulful gospel flavor that builds into a rolling, ebullient pop anthem. “I just wanted to do something I thought would make Mister Rogers proud,” Pickler says. “I was so kind of shocked I was part of the project, to be honest, but so happy. I wanted this to really live up to his standard.”
Rogers, who hosted Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in Pittsburgh for more than 33 years, wrote more than 200 songs during his life. The ordained Presbyterian minister received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame during 1999, as well as receiving more than 40 honorary degrees. He passed away from stomach cancer on Feb. 27, 2003, at the age of 74.