Margaret Cho on how her new album is helping to heal old wounds

By Anita Bennett, LA Daily News

POSTED: 05/31/16, 1:56 PM PDT | UPDATED: 1 DAY AGO

Margaret Cho at her home in Glendale.  (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)Margaret Cho at her home in Glendale. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News) 

For more than two decades, Margaret Cho has kept audiences laughing with her candid stand-up routines about politics, race and gay rights. Now the comedian is hoping to raise awareness about sexual abuse and cement her status as a singer-songwriter with her new album, “American Myth.”

“It’s comedy, indie rock. It’s a little bit of novelty songs. It’s a little bit of pretty serious songs,” Cho explained in a recent sit-down interview.

• RELATED PHOTOS: Comedian-turned-singer Margaret Cho at her home in Glendale

The project, released last month, is her first studio album in six years. The Glendale resident composed it with longtime collaborator Garrison Starr and recorded it in Koreatown. The release comes as Cho travels the country on her “PsyCHO” comedy tour, and as she serves as a co-host on E!’s “Fashion Police.”

Her 2010 album, the Grammy-nominated “Cho Dependent,” was a mix of comedy and music. This latest record features the 47-year-old star singing about family, fame and surviving childhood sexual abuse.

“For me as a survivor, it was a way to figure out how to release these very strong emotions,” she said. “There’s always this need for people to forgive their perpetrators and their abusers, and I haven’t felt comfort in that.”

Cho self-released the album through her Clownery Records label and is selling it on her website. The record features 12 tracks including “Anna Nicole,” a requiem to late model and reality star Anna Nicole Smith; “Daddy, I Miss You,” a tribute to fathers; and the emotional “I Wanna Kill My Rapist.”

Despite the title, Cho insisted the song is not about physical violence.

“It’s about trying to murder the memory inside, so that you can move on,” she explained.

The first time she performed it, she said she felt an intense emotional connection with the audience.

“It was such a huge reaction from the audience, which was mostly women. They were coming up afterwards and wanting to talk about what happened to them,” she said. “It’s something that I think people have a lot of trouble talking about. I realized that after I did the song, it was easier to talk about it in my comedy too.”

The comedian has been vocal about her past, revealing in interviews and on social media that she suffered years of abuse as a child.

“I was abused by a family member from the age of 5 to 12, and my abuser is still alive,” she said.

While fans have been supportive, Cho said her family has struggled to come to terms with what happened.

“It’s a big fight between my family and I, and it’s something that I think is hard for them, because there are so many generations of silence around abusers in our family, and I just want to break the silence. But that’s such a culturally taboo thing for Koreans,” she explained.

Cho said her family has urged her to let it go.

“They’re just like ‘please he’s gonna die soon,’ and I feel like he’s murdered so many of us spiritually. Many members of my family have been affected by him. It’s just a devastating thing.”