kd lang

kd lang headshot          Hailing from Edmonton and Concord, Alta, kd lang is not so much a renowned music artist as a force of nature, a level 4 hurricane that will sweep you off your feet, twirl you around the dance floor and then move on, leaving you exactly where you started.

Influenced by American poet ee cummings, lang uses all lower case letters in her name, but she was originally Katherine Dawn Lang, the youngest of a family of six (two older sisters, an older brother and her parents). Her early life hinted at several paths, such as being an Olympic volleyball athlete, but it was during a college stint in Red Deer, Alta, that lang became mesmerized by the late Patsy Cline and new that her future was in music.

And, like any good hurricane, lang’s presence in the Canadian (and later international) music scene shook up the landscape like no else could have hoped to. The artist left Red Deer and moved back to Edmonton with her band, the Reclines (named, as you’ve probably guessed, after Patsy Cline). There’s an urban myth that lang, earlier in her career, caused a ruccus in Nashville by claiming to be the reincarnation of Patsy Cline (many Grand Ole Opry regulars were not impressed).

Her music, however, was nothing like Patsy Cline’s and it earned her the singular title “Country Punk”. She has always noted that this had more to do with her clothing than her music (poverty inspired her mother to fashion clothing from old drapes and anything else they could recycle). She described her music as being more country pop, and her first album “A Truly Western Experience” (1984) and the album song “Hanky-Panky” completely fit her description.

The reclines would follow this with a second and third album, “Angel With a Lariat” (1987) and “Absolute Torch and Twang” (1989), but it was lang’s 1988 album “Shadowland” and the similarly titled single that introduced her as a solo act and moved her away from country music into pop. These years weren’t without controversy, though.

The artist has always been a vocal champion of important causes and an advertisement discouraging the consumption of beef led to her estrangement from her hometown, Concord. When she later came out publicly as being gay, the Nashville music scene rejected her out of hand. Nothing can stop a hurricane, though, and lang continued to blaze her way through the music scene with grammy and other nominations falling before her like dominoes.

More recent years have seen lang pair up with industry icons such as Roy Orbison and Elton John, venture into acting (appearances on the tv show “Ellen” and in movies) and earn the admiration of her peers. Her cover of a Leonard Cohen song, “Hallelujah”, is considered a classic and her performance of the song at the 2005 Juno Awards in Canada resulted in a standing ovation (from country and pop stars, and the entire audience). She now considers herself retired but hasn’t ruled out a future return to the spotlight, if and when her “muse” should reappear.

                             click on the links below to see the lyrics for the songs mentioned above: Hanky Panky (lyrics); Shadowland (lyrics); Hallelujah (lyrics)


                                       hailing from: to come from somewhere; to start from somewhere

                                       renowned: known by many people; famous

                                       twirl: to spin someone or something in a circle

                                       originally: at the start; in the beginning

                                       hinted: to suggest indirectly

                                       mesmerized: having one’s complete attention; focused on something to the point of being unaware of other things

                                       presence: the state of being somewhere (a place, event, industry, etc)

                                       urban myth: a popular story, unsupported by facts, which may or may not be true

                                       ruccus: a situation that involves conflict (social, verbal or physical)

                                       singular: to be the only one

                                       poverty: the situation or state of being poor or having no money

                                       recycle: to reuse something that might otherwise go in the garbage

                                       follow: to walk behind someone or something, OR to come later, after something has happened (example: lunch follows breakfast)

                                       controversy: a situation, idea or other thing where the number of people who agree and disagree is the same

                                       champion: a person who defends someone or something OR the act of defending someone/something

                                       estrangement: a situation where people aren’t as emotionally close as they were before

                                       blaze: to do something in a way that attracts a large amount of attention from other people

                                       icons: people who are thought to represent or symbolize something (an actor who is widely known) peers: people who have the same job or do the same thing that you do

                                       standing ovation: when everyone in an audience is clapping after a performance (while standing)

                                       Downloadable Items

                                       article text
                                       story comprehension questions
                                       story comprehension answers

                                       YouTube Movie Clips

                                       k.d. lang - Hanky Panky

                                       K.D. Lang - Shadowland (the album)

                                       K.D. Lang - Shadowland (the song)

                                       K.D. Lang sings Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

                                       Article Research Sources

                                       AllMusic (music website)

                                       Hanky-Panky (YouTube music video)

                                       (BBC) “The Muse is Eluding Me” (news story)

                                       Wikipedia biography

                                       Vanity Fair “k.d. lang Cuts It Close” (magazine article)

                                       Shadowland (YouTube music video)

                                       Hallelujah (YouTube music video)

Last updated Friday, February 10, 2023
copyrighted © John Erick Kenmuir 2023