- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2000

''I don't bet on anything," says K.D. Lang, "especially my career."

That may come as a surprise to this Canadian singer-songwriter's devoted fans. They long have regarded her as a sure thing when it comes to musical excellence in country, pop, torch songs and anything else she wraps her heavenly voice around.

Artistic triumphs don't ensure commercial success, though, as this multiple Grammy Award-winner well knows. Sadly, stylistic diversity can be a detriment in this age of one-note acts and image-is-everything video vixens.

"The beauty of being K.D. Lang is that I never took [success] for granted. I've only had one song played on the radio in 17 years, so I've never taken it for granted," says the erstwhile Kathryn Dawn Lang.

In fact, Miss Lang disclosed in a recent interview from her Los Angeles home, she contemplated a major career shift after her previous concert tour concluded in 1997.

"I was seriously burnt out and disillusioned," she says. "I knew I'd continue to sing, but I didn't know if I'd continue doing pop records, or [stay] on a major label. I knew I'd do music [quitting] was never considered.

"But I'd worked for 15 years straight, without taking any time to live a life in between. I got a little bit cynical and tired and unappreciative of what I do for a living."

Did her discouragement stem from the tepid commercial response to "Drag," her 1997 album about love's addictive powers?

"No. I knew 'Drag' wouldn't be a commercial success," says Miss Lang, 38. "I made that album for me, just to exercise my interpretive skills. From 'Ingenue' (her Grammy-winning 1992 album) to 'Drag' was like going from the top of the mountain all the way down, and I'm not sour grapes about it. It was just the whole trip I went on, and trying to find my place in what I do and in the scheme of fame and art and commerce."

Weary and wary, Miss Lang backed away from music. She went for long walks on the beach with her dog and enjoyed being a homebody with her significant other, musician Leisha Hailey of the Murmurs. Gradually, Miss Lang found the balance she had been missing.

"I realized I was giving 100 percent to my career and that it wasn't necessarily giving 100 percent back to me," she says. "So taking a little of my energy and putting it into my domestic life has certainly given me new perspective on life.

"I realized life is my art everything I do and music is my craft, my job. That's not to demean it, but music is a part of who I am, not who I am. So what 'Invincible Summer' means to me is reinvigorating my life and my music."

Her new album blends Brazilian bossa nova and samba with electronica and the breezy sound of such '60s pop icons as the Mamas and the Papas and Burt Bacharach.

"I gather ingredients and throw them into the pot, as a chef does," Miss Lang says. "It's a lifelong process to figure it out. I consider myself a vocalist; I'm not a band, I'm not in a certain genre of music… . So I always try to be challenging with my music, and I approached my records like they had to be an acquired taste. But I wanted this one to be very accessible and more like water than a gourmet meal."

What if her special brand of water fails to quench the thirst of a public that too often prefers empty calories to nourishment?

"I can always go sing in the Holiday Inn," she says. "I guess I kind of did for a while; I sang in Wong's Kitchen in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, when I was in college. I certainly paid my dues."

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