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Versatile singer and songwriter k.d. Lang is known for such country hits as "Crying" and "I'm Down to My Last Cigarette," and for the successful pop single "Constant Craving."
Watch a short video about KD Lang and find out how the out country singer won over audiences.
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Singer k.d. Lang was born in 1961 in Alberta, Canada, and grew up in the town of Consort. Lang started singing as a child and began her musical career after attending Red Deer College. She released her debut album in Canada in the early 1980s. In 1986, Lang tried to break into the American country music scene with Angel with a Lariat. The following year, she had her first country hit, a duet with Roy Orbison. Switching to a more traditional pop vocal style,
"I knew what I wanted to be the day I had my first piano lesson. I fell in love with music, and I'll stay in love forever."
"I was there in Nashville, a lesbian, a vegetarian, a Canadian, and trying to get in with this white, male, Christian society. They were like, 'What the hell are you doing here, girl?'"
Lang had her biggest pop hit in 1992 with "Constant Craving." Since then, she has recorded numerous albums, including her 2002 collaboration with Tony Bennett, A Wonderful World. Lang was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
Born Kathryn Dawn Lang on November 2, 1961, in Alberta, Canada, country singer k.d. Lang grew up the youngest of four children in the small town of Consort, Alberta. As she once told The New York Times, the place was so small that "you knew everyone from the day you were born till the day you could get yourself out there."
Music was an important part of Lang's youth, and she began demonstrating her significant vocal talents as a child. Her mother, a teacher, drove more than a hour to take Lang and her siblings to their piano lessons each week. Her piano instruction would prove to be the inspiration for her future career. When Lang was 12 years old, her parents split up, and music provided some solace.
While a student at Red Deer College, Lang appeared in a production about Patsy Cline. During rehearsals, she became entranced with the life and music of the country music legend. Subsequently, after graduating from college, Lang began to pursue her own music career. With musician and songwriting partner Ben Mink, Lang formed a group called the Reclines in Patsy's honor.
With the Reclines, Lang enjoyed some success in her native Canada. She made her debut with the well-received Friday Dance Promenade and established her reputation with A Truly Western Promenade in 1984. The following year, the Juno Awards selected Lang as the "most promising female vocalist." After landing a contract with Sire records, in 1986, the androgynous-looking country star launched her career in the United States.
Lang impressed critics with her 1986 album, Angel with a Lariat, but country fans didn't truly begin to warm up to the singer until the following year. In 1987, Lang released a duet with Roy Orbison, a new recording of his 1961 hit "Crying." In addition to putting Lang on the country charts for the first time, this song brought garnered the country singer a Grammy Award win for best country vocal collaboration.
Lang fared even better with 1989's Shadowland. The album featured two country hits: "I'm Down to My Last Cigarette" and "Lock, Stock and Teardrops." For the record, Lang had a chance to work with Owen Bradley, a producer of Patsy Cline's music. She was also accompanied by some of her idols on one of the tracks. Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells sang with her on "Honky Tonk Angels' Medley."
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They make music with instruments they were born with - their voices. Gifted vocalists have entertained audiences across musical genres from the tour de force arias of Luciano Pavarotti to the classic crooning of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to the soulful vocals of artists like Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. With their powerful lyricism, singers like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen became poet laureates of American music while artists including Joan Baez and Joe Strummer used their voices to prompt social change while they entertained. Rockers from Elvis Presley to The Beatles to Kurt Cobain helped define their generations through their songs while icons like Michael Jackson, Cher and Whitney Houston shaped pop culture with their larger-than-life voices and personas. See these and more famous singers who have struck a chord in musical history.
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