k.d. lang is that rare performer who, over 25 years as a major-label artist, has matured before our very ears. The Western Canada native launched her career with a blend of country-rock stylings and playfully punk-like attitude, by turns whimsical and subversive; back then, she practically put the alternative in alt-country. But from the very beginning, her bravura singing belied her kitschy cowgirl outfits and spiky hair; anyone lucky enough to attend very first appearance in the United States, on a triple bill of unsigned artists at New York City's Bottom Line, could hear that she was marked for greatness.
After independently releasing A Truly Western Experience; on a Canadian label in 1984, which generated serious major-label interest in the States, lang joined Sire/Warner Bros. at the behest of Seymour Stein for her 1987 U.S. debut, Angel With A Lariat, produced by one-time Rockpile guitarist Dave Edmunds and cut with her then-band the Reclines. 1988 follow-up Shadowland brought lang—rather daringly—right to the heart of Nashville for a countrypolitan-themed collaboration helmed by legendary producer Owen Bradley, mentor to lang's idol, Patsy Cline, as well as to Brenda Lee. (In fact, Lee, Loretta Lynn, and Kitty Wells make a guest vocal appearance on the album's "Honky Tonk Angels' Medley.") Though the Nashville establishment may have remained skeptical about lang, Shadowland reached #8 on the Billboard Country album chart.
lang's work has been regularly featured in movies—the lang/Orbison duet version of "Crying" was originally recorded for a teen comedy called Hiding Out—but her most powerful work in the visual medium has been on those songs she has created especially for films. She collaborated with composer Bob Telson (Gospel At Colonus) on "Barefoot," the haunting theme of German filmmaker Percy Adlon's cult classic drama, Salmonberries, which also happened to star lang as a mysterious young Alaskan orphan. With Siberry, she wrote and performed the incantatory "Calling All Angels," from the 1991 soundtrack to Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World, a song that has had a deservedly long life on its own.
Along with Siberry, lang has collaborated, in the studio and on stage, with many other pop and country performers, including Bonnie Raitt and Elton John. But her best-known collaboration has been with veteran crooner Tony Bennett, with whom she recorded the 2002 Wonderful World duets album and continues to tour regularly, often in symphonic settings. Bennett may, in fact, be her biggest fan and he declared to the press what so many fans have come to believe over the last two and a half decades: "She's the best singer of her generation."
In April of 2011, Nonesuch Records released k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang's Sing It Loud. Produced by lang and Joe Pisapia, it is the award-winning singer-songwriter's first record made entirely with a band of her own since the pair of albums with The Reclines that launched her groundbreaking career over 20 years ago. lang has come full circle with Sing It Loud.
Tickets for k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang go on-sale Friday, December 16 th at 9:30am. Skip the line - tickets to all events at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium can be purchased online at http://tickets.tbca.com.