If the California desert wasn't hot enough this time of year, Grammy Award winning singer k.d. lang & the Siss Boom Bang promise to "heat up the summer night" when they bring their eclectic, signature musical style to The McCallum Theatre tonight, June 26 at 8:00 pm as part of the Fitz's Jazz Cafe Series. Lang launched her career 25 years ago with a blend of country-rock and a playfully punk-like attitude. With her 1992 Platinum-selling Ingenue, she had fashioned a unique sound and an elegant and impassioned adult contemporary approach that yielded her a Grammy Award, her second, and her biggest career hit, "Constant Craving."
After independently releasing A Truly Western Experience on a Canadian label in 1984, which generated serious major-label interest in the States, k.d. joined Sire/Warner Bros for her 1987 U.S. debut, Angel With A Lariat. 1988’s follow-up Shadowland brought k.d. to the heart of Nashville for a country-politan-themed collaboration.
Though the Nashville establishment may have remained skeptical about k.d., Shadowland reached #8 on the Billboard Country album chart. Her 1989 Grammy Award-winning Absolute Torch and Twang combined her love of country with increasingly sophisticated, emotive torch singing typified by "Pullin' Back the Reins."
On subsequent releases, k.d. continued to fine-tune and expand the parameters of her songwriting and her repertoire. All You Can Eat (1995) was the most experimental, as challenging as it was fun. Drag (1997) underscored her gifts as an interpreter, utilizing material by composers ranging from Steve Miller and Air Supply to Jane Siberry and Andre and Dory Previn. Invincible Summer (2000) was perhaps her most sultry, a collection featuring bossa nova inflections and dreamy electronics. With Hymns of the 49th Parallel, k.d. presented her most compelling set of material by other songwriters — all of them, in this case, fellow Canadians — as well as a gorgeous version of her own "Simple." k.d.’s interpretation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is understatedly stunning, and with good reason; it has become, along with her breathtaking cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying," a concert showstopper.
Her 2008 release, the beautiful and self-assured Watershed, was, as the title suggests, a pivotal moment for k.d., her first effort acting as producer along with singer and songwriter. She called the album "a culmination of everything I've done — there's a little bit of jazz, a little country, a little of the Ingenue sound, a little Brazilian touch." Along the way k.d. garnered two more Grammys, eight Juno Awards in Canada, and Canada's highest civilian award, The Order of Canada. In April of 2011, k.d. released her latest CD, Sing It Loud.
k.d.’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. She collaborated with composer Bob Telson on "Barefoot," the haunting theme of the German cult classic drama, Salmonberries, which also happened to star lang as a mysterious young Alaskan orphan, and she wrote and performed the incantatory "Calling All Angels," from the 1991 soundtrack to Until the End of the World.
k.d. 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 Tony Bennett, with whom she recorded the 2002 Wonderful World duets album and continues to tour regularly, often in symphonic settings. Tony may 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."
k.d.lang will appear at McCallum Theatre on Tuesday, June 26 at 8:00pm. Tickets are priced at $99, $79, $69 and $59 and are available by calling the McCallum Theatre Box Office at (760) 340-2787 or online at www.mccallumtheatre.com.