From The Vaults

k.d. lang and her turn away from country music

'Choosing country was, I guess, in a way at once an embrace of my upbringing, but it was also a rebellion'

'Choosing country was, I guess, in a way at once an embrace of my upbringing, but it was also a rebellion'

How an appearance on CBC's The Tommy Hunter Show marked the end of lang's career as a country singer and the start of something new. 9:17

k.d.lang began her career in the '80s, quickly gaining a massive mainstream country fanbase. But by the time she appeared on The Tommy Hunter Show in 1991, the "Cowpunk Princess" had arrived at her own personal turning point.

lang says that initially, she was thrilled by country music: The confining themes and structures were, she thought, the perfect realm to push the envelope and explore hybridizing musical styles.

"Choosing country was, I guess, in a way at once an embrace of my upbringing, but it was also a rebellion."

It was easier to come out as a lesbian than it was to come out as a vegetarian.- k.d. lang

But she lost a lot of her following, especially in her hometown Consort, Alta. when she appeared in an animal rights campaign claiming that "meat stinks." Many radio stations in the small cattle town boycotted lang's music, country fans said they were ashamed of her and there were even bomb threats at the record company.

"It was easier to come out as a lesbian than it was to come out as a vegetarian," recalls lang.

As she watches archival footage of her 1991 appearance on The Tommy Hunter Show, lang says she can tell that her younger self was done with the genre.

The "conservative mindset" of country music and culture had helped shape her, but it no longer fully represented her. It was time to branch out. "It made sense to me that I would go toward liberalism and vegetarianism and whatever genre of music and gay culture. When you look at it, it was actually completely in sync."
 

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