Sunday, April 11, 2010

The evolution of k.d. lang

"k.d. lang has undergone several image changes over the years, from country-punk queen with a 'shivering bag of antics', in the early '80s, to a down-to-earth look at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in 1996, to her Watershed tour appearance at the National Arts Centre in 2008. The Canadian superstar is now celebrating 25 years of music with the release of her new CD, Recollection"

Sandra Sperounes writes:
Not too long ago, k.d. lang was on stage when she had an epiphany. "I sing for a living!" she laughs. "It was like, 'Yeah, duh! You've been doing it for 25 years.' But you know, sometimes you just don't get it."

Most of those 25 years -- from songs like Crying with Roy Orbison to Constant Craving to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah -- are celebrated on Recollection, a retrospective of lang's two-plus decades as a country-pop artist on Warner Music.

As humble as the 48-year-old is about her achievements, she knew she could succeed as soon as she burst onto Edmonton's music scene in the early '80s, tearing up stages with her transcendental voice, Patsy Cline tunes, crazy vintage-store dresses and a "shivering bag of antics," according to an early press release.

"I had a vision and it was just a matter of work, tenacity and persistence. No one prepares you for what you experience, but I was very sure I wanted to do this, and I knew I could if I worked hard enough."

This now includes 12 albums, four Grammys, eight Junos, an Order of Canada and her spine-tingling performance of Hallelujah at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics.

She's also recognized as a trailblazer for gay celebrities -- she came out in 1992 -- and an activist for animal rights and Tibet.

While Recollection doesn't include any tracks from lang's early days in Edmonton -- which go back 28 years -- she has fond memories of the city that launched her career. (She returns often to visit her mother and savour the Prairie sky.)

"My days in Edmonton are very, very vivid. That was a really fun period -- I think one of my most fond times. I was just so full of energy and ideas and creativity and I was exploding with stuff. When I started making music, it was like I was freed from my cage."

Her liberation began in 1982, when she answered musician Jim Alexander's classified ad in the Edmonton Journal. He wanted to start a country-swing band and was looking for a singer. She was a 21-year-old Red Deer College music grad, a performance artist and a Patsy Cline fanatic. READ MORE