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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.
K.D. Lang, OC (born as Kathryn Dawn Lang on November 2, 1961) is a Grammy Award-winning Canadian singer and songwriter. Singing at country and western venues in Canada, she made several recordings that received good reviews and earned a 1985 Canadian 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. Lang has won eight Juno Awards.
Lang was first drawn to country music when she attended Red Deer College. Soon, she became fascinated with the life and music of Patsy Cline and ultimately determined to pursue a career as a professional singer. Lang formed a Patsy Cline tribute band called the Reclines in 1983, and they recorded a debut album, Friday Dance Promenade. A follow-up album, A Truly Western Experience, was released in 1984 and received strong reviews and which led to national attention in Canada. In 1996, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
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.
Her career received a huge boost when Roy Orbison chose her to record a duet of his standard, Crying. Instead of being overwhelmed by the power of Orbison's voice, the two blended their vocal ranges into a collaboration that won them the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.
The year 1988 marked the release of Shadowland, an album of torch country produced by the legendary Owen Bradley. That year she performed Turn Me Round at the closing ceremonies of the XV Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. Later that same year she sang background vocals with Jennifer Warnes and Bonnie Raitt for Orbison's acclaimed television special, Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night. Lang also did a guest appearance on Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special in 1988, where she sang Jingle Bell Rock.
K.D. Lang won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her 1989 album, Absolute Torch and Twang. The single Full Moon 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.
Her cover of Cole Porter's So In Love appears on the Red Hot Blue compilation album and video from 1990, a benefit for AIDS research and relief.
The album Ingenue in 1992, 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 which is the salsa-inspired track; 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 colours and a profusion of bubbles.
Lang contributed much of the music towards Gus Van Sant's soundtrack of the film Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), 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.
Lang ranked #33 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll in 1999 and #26 on CMT' 40 Greatest Women in Country Music in 2002, one of only seven women to make both lists. The others were Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Rondstadt, and Lucinda Williams.
In 2003, she won her fourth Grammy Award, this time for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her collaboration with Tony Bennett, A Wonderful World.
On subsequent tours critical acclaim continued to come her way. In the same year, she released Hymns of the 49th Parallel, which featured cover versions of songs by iconic Canadian singer-songwriters: Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Ron Sexsmith, Jane Siberry, and Neil Young. According to the CRIA the Canadian Record Industry Association 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 was featured in Nellie McKay's second album, Pretty Little Head, singing with McKay in we had it right. In 2006 Lang sang a version of The Beatles' Golden Slumbers for the Happy Feet film soundtrack.
She is due to release an album of new material, Watershed on February 5, 2008. It will be her first collection of original material since Invincible Summer in 2000.
Lang played the lead in the 1991 drama film Salmonberries, and also co-starred with Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd in Eye of the Beholder (1999). Lang had an uncredited role as a lounge singer in 2006's The Black Dahlia
In addition to her musical talents, K.D. Lang has performed and supported many causes over the years, including HIV/AIDS care and research. Her animal rights vegetarian stance including a Meat Stinks campaign created much controversy, particularly at her hometown in the middle of Alberta's cattle ranching industry.
In the early 1990's, Lang appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. The issue contained a detailed article about Lang which observed that Lang had thought that she would be ostracized by the country-music industry in the beginning; Nashville was accepting, and her records continued to sell. When she came out as a vegetarian, however, Nashville was appalled and ostracized her. Lang was involved with Annie Lennox in the production of the charity record Sing released on December 1st 2007 (World AIDS Day) to raise awareness of the transmission of HIV to unborn children in Africa.