Kathryn Dawn Lang, OC, (born November 2, 1961), better known by her stage name k.d. lang, is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress. She gives her name in lowercase letters, with the given names contracted to initials and no space between these initials.[1][2]

Lang has won both Juno Awards and Grammy Awards for her musical performances; hits include "Constant Craving" and "Miss Chatelaine". She has contributed songs to movie soundtracks and has teamed with musicians such as Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, and Anne Murray. Lang is a Buddhist and is well known for being a vegetarian, an animal rights advocate, gay rights and Tibetan human rights activist and is openly gay. She recently performed Leonard Cohen's " Hallelujah" at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Early years

Lang was born in Edmonton, Alberta, the daughter of Audrey and Adam Frederick Lang.[3] She is of English, Irish, Scottish, German, Icelandic, Russian Jewish and Sioux ancestry.[4] Her family moved to Consort,Alberta when Lang was nine months old, and there she grew up with two sisters and one brother on the Canadian prairie.[5] Her father was a drug store owner and left the family when lang was twelve.[5]

Upon completion of secondary school, lang attended Red Deer College, where she became fascinated with the life and music of Patsy Cline and ultimately determined to pursue a career as a professional singer.[6] She formed a Patsy Cline tribute band called the Reclines in 1983, and they recorded a debut album, Friday Dance Promenade. Also in 1983, lang presented a performance art piece, a seven-hour re-enactment of the transplantation of an artificial heart for Barney Clark, a retired American dentist.[7][8] A Truly Western Experience was released in 1984 and received strong reviews and led to national attention in Canada. In August 1984, k.d. lang was one of three Canadian artists to be selected to perform at the World Science Fair in Tsukuba, Japan (along with other performing and recording contracts throughout Japan).

Singing at country and western venues in Canada, lang made several recordings that received very positive reviews and earned a 1985 Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. She accepted the award wearing a wedding dress and made numerous tongue-in-cheek promises about what she would and would not do in the future, thus fulfilling the title of "Most Promising." She has won eight Juno Awards.

In 1986, she signed a contract with an American record producer in Nashville, Tennessee, and received critical acclaim for her 1987 album, Angel with a Lariat, which was produced by Dave Edmunds.

Career rise

Lang first came to the attention of the US audiences when she toured with Roy Orbison as one of three female backup singers. Her career received a huge boost when Orbison chose her to record a duet of his standard, "Crying" a collaboration that won them the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 1989. The song was first used in the Jon Cryer film Hiding Out released in 1987.

1988 marked the release of Shadowland, an album of torch country produced by Owen Bradley. That year Lang also performed "Turn Me Round" at the closing ceremonies of the XV Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, and sang background vocals with Jennifer Warnes and Bonnie Raitt for Orbison's acclaimed television special, Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night.

Grammy Awards and mainstream success

Lang won the American Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her 1989 album, Absolute Torch and Twang. The single "Full Moon Full of Love" that stemmed from that album became a modest hit in the United States in the summer of 1989 and a number 1 hit on the RPM Country chart in Canada.

The 1992 album, Ingénue, a set of adult contemporary pop songs that showed comparatively little country influence, contained her most popular song, "Constant Craving." That song brought her multi-million sales, much critical acclaim, and the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Another top ten single from the record was "Miss Chatelaine". The salsa-inspired track was ironic; Chatelaine is a Canadian women's magazine which once chose lang as its "Woman of the Year," and the song's video depicted lang in an exaggeratedly feminine manner, surrounded by bright pastel colors and a profusion of bubbles reminiscent of a performance on the Lawrence Welk show.

Lang contributed much of the music towards Gus Van Sant's soundtrack of the film Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and also did a cover of "Skylark" for the 1997 film adaptation of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. She performed "Surrender" for the closing titles of the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, having previously worked with Bond composer David Arnold on his album, Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project.

In 1996, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

In 1997, Drag, an album of cover tunes dedicated to 'smoke' (specifically cigarette smoking) was released, although the album cover and booklet photographs show lang in a man's suit, referring to crossdressing as another possible meaning of the word 'drag'. The songs on Drag include "Smoke Dreams," from the '40s, Steve Miller Band's "The Joker," "Smoke Rings," the theme from the cult movie Valley of the Dolls, and eight other smoke-themed songs.

Lang ranked #33 on VH-1's 100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll in 1999 and #26 on CMT 40 Greatest Women in Country Music in 2002, one of only eight women to make both lists. The others were Linda Ronstadt, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris.

In 2003, she won her fourth Grammy Award, this time for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her collaboration with Tony Bennett on A Wonderful World.

On subsequent tours, critical acclaim continued to come her way. In 2004, Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote: "Few singers command such perfection of pitch. Her voice, at once beautiful and unadorned and softened with a veil of smoke, invariably hits the middle of a note and remains there. She discreetly flaunted her technique, drawing out notes and shading them from sustained cries into softer, vibrato-laden murmurs. She balanced her commitment to the material with humor, projecting a twinkling merriment behind it all."[9]

In the same year, lang released Hymns of the 49th Parallel, which featured cover versions of songs by iconic English-speaking Canadian singer-songwriters: Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Ron Sexsmith, Jane Siberry, and Neil Young.[10] According to the Canadian Record Industry Association (CRIA), in April 2006 the album went platinum in Canada selling over 100,000 copies. In December 2007 the album reached double platinum status in Australia selling over 140,000 copies.

Also in 2004, she sang the song "Little Patch of Heaven" for the Walt Disney Feature Animation film, Home on the Range.

On July 29, 2006, lang performed her hit "Constant Craving" at the Outgames Opening Ceremonies in Montreal, Canada.

In 2006, lang paired with singer Madeleine Peyroux on a cover of the Joni Mitchell song "River" for Peyroux's album, Half the Perfect World. That same year lang was featured in Nellie McKay's second album, Pretty Little Head, singing with McKay in "We Had it Right". That same year, lang sang a version of The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" for the Happy Feet film soundtrack.

In 2007, she partnered with Anne Murray on a re-make of Murray's hit "A Love Song," to be featured on Murray's CD, Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends. The duet was recorded in Los Angeles, California. On Murray's official website there is a picture of Murray and lang kneeling behind Murray's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Anne Murray was one of lang's childhood idols.

Lang released an album of new material, Watershed on February 5, 2008.[11] It was her first collection of original material since Invincible Summer (2000). An article in which lang is interviewed states: "when she isn’t working, [lang] is mostly a homebody, living quietly with a girlfriend she refers to as “my wife” – they’re not legally married – and her two dogs."[12]

k.d. lang's first complete Greatest Hits collection was released February 2, 2010 on the Nonesuch label as "Recollection". Her debut album was re-released as a deluxe version on February 9.

On February 12, 2010 at 8:30 PST, she performed Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Film and television appearances

Lang played the lead in the 1991 drama film, Salmonberries, and also costarred with Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd in Eye of the Beholder (1999). She had an uncredited role as a lounge singer in 2006's The Black Dahlia. She has also made guest appearances on the sitcoms The Larry Sanders Show, Dharma & Greg and the famous coming out episode of Ellen. She appeared on the Christmas special of Pee Wee's Playhouse, where she performed the song "Jingle Bell Rock". She also made a guest appearance on the "Garbage" episode of The Jim Henson Hour, and in 2008 appeared on Rove McManus' live hour show, Rove.


Lang, who came out as a lesbian in a 1992 article of the LGBT-related news magazine The Advocate, has actively championed gay rights causes. She has performed and supported many causes over the years, including HIV/AIDS care and research. Her cover of Cole Porter's "So in Love" (from the Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate), appears on the Red Hot + Blue compilation album and video from 1990 (a tribute to Cole Porter to benefit AIDS research and relief). Her 2010 Greatest Hits album, Recollection, also includes this cover of "So in Love".

Her animal rights vegetarian stance, including a "Meat Stinks" campaign, created much controversy, particularly in her hometown in the middle of Alberta's cattle ranching industry country.

Lang appeared on the cover of the August 1993 issue of Vanity Fair. The cover featured Lang in a barber chair while model Cindy Crawford appeared to shave her face with a straight razor.[13] The issue contained a detailed article about Lang which observed that she had thought that she would be ostracized by the country music industry when she came out as a lesbian. However, Nashville was accepting, and her records continued to sell. When she appeared in an ad for PETA however, Nashville was less impressed owing to the relationship between country music and cattle ranching.[14]

In April 2008, Lang spent time in Melbourne, Australia, as a guest editorialist for The Age. This was in connection with her support for the Tibet human rights issues. On April 24, 2008, she joined pro-Tibet protesters in Canberra as the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay made its way through the Australian capital.[15]


On June 3, 2008, it was announced that she would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.[16]

Awards and nominations

Of the multiple Grammy nominations that lang has received, she has won four Awards.

  • Grammy Award — Best Country Vocal Collaboration for "Crying" (shared with Roy Orbison)
  • Grammy Award — Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Absolute Torch And Twang"
  • Grammy Award — Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Constant Craving"
  • Grammy Award nomination — Song of the Year for "Constant Craving"
  • Grammy Award nomination — Record of the Year for "Constant Craving"
  • Grammy Award nomination — Album of the Year for "Ingenue"
  • Grammy Award nomination — Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Miss Chatelaine"
  • Grammy Award nomination — Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Moonglow" (with Tony Bennett)
  • Grammy Award nomination — Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "What A Wonderful World" (with Tony Bennett)
  • Grammy Award — Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for "A Wonderful World" (shared with Tony Bennett)
  • Grammy Award nomination — Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "La Vie En Rose" (with Tony Bennett)


See k.d. lang discography on Wikipedia.

Further reading

  • Adria, Marco (1990). "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cowpunk: K.D. Lang". Music of Our Times: Eight Canadian Singer-Songwriters. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company. pp. 139–44. ISBN 1-55028-315-4. 
  • Bufwack, Mary A. (1998). "K.D. Lang". in Paul Kingsbury. The Encyclopedia of Country Music. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 289–90. ISBN 978-0-19-517608-7. 
  • Dogget, Peter (2001). Are You Ready for the Country: Elvis, Dylan, Parsons and the Roots of Country Rock. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-026108-7. 
  • Feiler, Bruce (1998). Dreaming Out Loud: Garth Brooks, Wynonna Judd, Wade Hayes and the Changing Face of Nashville. Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-97578-5. 


  1. "". Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  2. "k.d.lang: A Who2 Profile". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  3. Starr, Victoria (1995). k.d. Lang : All You Get is Me. Random House of Canada. p. 2. ISBN 0394224426. 
  4. "kd lang hits Watershed moment". News24. 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Malawey, Victoria (2009) "K. D. Lang" in Cramer, Alfred W. (ed.) (2009) Musicians and Composers of the 20th Century Salem Press, Pasadena, California. ISBN 978-1-58765-512-8
  6. "k.d. lang: Biography". 2004-06-21. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  7. Adria, Marco (1990). "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cowpunk: K.D. Lang". Music of Our Times: Eight Canadian Singer-Songwriters. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company. pp. 139–44. ISBN 1-55028-315-4. 
  8. "Lang, K.D. Biography: Contemporary Musicians". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  9. "JVC Jazz Festival Reviews: Tai Chi Precision and Constant Shading". The New York Times. 2004-06-21. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  10. "K.D. Lang - View the Music Artists Biography Online". VH1. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  11. "K.D. Lang Eyeing February for Next Album". Billboard. 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  12. [1][dead link]
  13. "File:Vanity Fair Cover Lang Crawford.jpg". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  14. "K.D. Lang's Career Takes Another Twist". April 2004. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  15. "Canadian Singer K.D. Lang Will Protest for Tibetans Today: Here She Tells Why". The Age. 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  16. "Steve Nash, KD Lang Among New Walk of Fame Inductees". CTV. 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at K.d. lang. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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