Release date: January 2010
Unbroken is the second album from American Idol season five runner-up Katharine McPhee. The album was released on January 5, 2010 by Verve Forecast Records, her first album on the label. It debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200, selling 15,000 copies in its first week. As of December 2010, the album has sold 44,000 copies in the US.
The album was set for release on October 6, 2009 but in September, it got pushed back to Jan 5, 2010 due to scheduling conflicts (McPhee confirmed the new date and explanation in a video on her website).
Unlike that first effort, McPhee co-wrote the majority of the songs on Unbroken, collaborating with fellow singer/songwriters Paula Cole, Ingrid Michaelson and Rachael Yamagata. "This record is definitely more personal to me," McPhee says. "I have more stories to tell. It's more of an artistic look at me as a person. Coming from a reality show, it's hard to know the depth of somebody. This record gave me that opportunity to show that. That's what Verve wanted from me: to make a record I was proud of. It was a huge blessing to give me that."
Her vocals also display a new vulnerability and maturity that make Unbroken compelling listening. "I think I finally learned to breathe," McPhee says, both literally and figuratively. "I'm grounded in my own body; my voice was grounded. Having a big voice, I had to realize that singing high notes didn't equal artistry. This is more about how I can interpret a song, the nuances of singing."
While sounding utterly contemporary, McPhee also drew from the tremendous voices that have guided her throughout her life ranging from Nina Simone to Sarah McLachlan. "I wanted some older influences on here," she says. "My mom is a cabaret singer; I grew up with the Great American Songbook. That's why I know all the standards, but I always had a want and a need for pop music."
McPhee began work on Unbroken in 2008. At the urging on Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris, she traveled to Nashville several times to write with some of Music City's top songwriters. "It was a really great place for me to grow as a songwriter; see how it's done," she says.
Inspired by the new label and new album, McPhee traded in her long brunette hair for a short blonde do and made it part of the promotion for the album, with an exclusive "First Look" in People Magazine. "I've never done anything crazy like this," she says. "I didn't think I would cut my hair off or go this blonde, but I'm going through changes. Searching for lyrics and meaning in the record just sort of forced me to examine inside and out."
"Had It All" was released as the first and only radio single from the album. It was released on McPhee's MySpace page and to iTunes for purchase on August 25, 2009, and to AC and Hot AC radio on September 21. It peaked at #22 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. The official music video premiered on the music video site Vevo on October 13, 2009. "Had It All" has sold 29,000 downloads to date in the United States.