'Super Sweet Candy ... At Your Service!'
Candye Kane 'Superhero' is the name of Candyes' original song and the title of her just-released CD for Delta Groove records.
It is also an apt description of the jump blues singer and songwriter from East Los Angeles who has earned this moniker the hard way. Nominated for a 2008 National Blues Foundation Award for Best Blues Contemporary Female (the highest honor for blues artists) and beating down pancreatic cancer the same year, Kane is one tough cookie.
Raised in a dysfunctional, blue-collar family, Candye became a teenage mother, a pin up cover girl and a punk rock, hillbilly and blues-belting anarchist by the time she was just 21 years old. Nine CDs, six record labels, millions of international road miles and countless awards later, Miss Kane has proven to be a true survivor as she scrambled her way to the top of the roots music heap, creating a world renowned reputation that has spanned two decades.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Candye - and first wondered just who had been her musical influences growing up and how many still factored into her music today? [Candye] "I was a product of the late seventies and early eighties. I loved Linda Ronstadt and thru her music, I was turned on to songwriters like Hank Williams Sr; and artists like Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells. My earliest influences were country artists but I also liked crooners. I learned all the Judy Garland songs from her movies and dreamt that I would one day play Dorothy in a production on the Wizard of Oz. I also loved Bobby Darin, Eddie Cantor, Connie Stevens, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, My parents had records of all of the above. I think Patsy Cline is still a big influence as is Judy Garland."
As an artist that is now releasing her tenth CD, how is 'Superhero' different from your very first release - musically and lyrically? "On my first release, Burlesque Swing, I felt it was important to do songs that were innuendo songs. I liked the sexuality celebration that I found in some of the early blues artists material like Lucille Bogan and Memphis Minnie. I felt compelled to do some sexually titillating material on my first records because I wanted to make a clear statement that I wasn’t shying away from my sexuality or my past as a sex worker. I still did jump blues and boogie, so stylistically my songs haven’t changed much. But I am a better songwriter these days. My songs have a message beyond just celebrating my sexuality and I no longer feel obligated to make a statement about my sexual background. People are well aware now of my past and I simply want to be taken seriously now as a singer and songwriter."
Indeed, with a title like 'Superhero,' we are assuming that it was named after yourself re: your recent battle with pancreatic cancer? Is that correct? "Yes, super hero was the first song I wrote after my cancer surgery on april 18, 2008. I had 150 stitches in my abdomen and couldn’t sing and could barely speak. I started strumming the guitar because I felt the vibrations from the instrument might be good for my incision. I wrote super hero from my own struggle with healing but also from the perspective of all people who battle lifes challenges and are super heroes in every day life."
With a career spanning two decades, some are claiming you are a 'veteran' of the music industry ... but, does that word sit well with you also, perhaps? "It's true that I have been around the music industry for a long time and have weathered many record deals and managers. I am honored to be considered a veteran but only now do I feel like I am finally being taken seriously as an artist. I was always my own worst enemy in that I felt determined to be honest about my past as a sex worker even though it often hurt my career and marginalized me as a musician. I thought by writing songs like “Masturbation blues” or white trash girl, or by playing piano with my breasts, that I would be celebrated for my candor and humor but instead I was treated as a novelty act. I feel like the tide is finally turning for me, since I was nominated last year for a National Blues Foundation award for best contemporary blues female and since my new cd is #10 on the billboard charts. Now I feel like I can just be myself and let the music make the statement. I may be a veteran of the music industry, but only now am I being viewed primarily as a musician. That feels vindicating. That feels good."
'Superhero' was produced by both yourself and guitar virtuoso Laura Chavez, so please tell us more about her input into the songs and such "Laura and I have a wonderful friendship and connection. We are very close and we work very well together both on and off the bandstand. In some ways, I feel protective of laura. She is the same age as my eldest son so I feel motherly towards her. In other ways, she is like my best friend or my sister. It has been wonderful to work with another woman in my band. I was a longtime collaborator with sue palmer who was my pianist for eight years until 1999. I am so happy to have a new musical partner in my life that I really connect with on a deep level. Laura has great musical ideas and she communicates best musically. I am a good verbalist and a writer so it’s a great, symbiotic relationship with my words and lauras music. Laura is also good at interpreting my musical ideas. Sometimes I have a melody in my head and I have to depend on an instrumentalist to interpret that melody. Not all instrumentalists are capable of being good listeners. Laura is very sensitive and a good listener. She is able to hear and play my musical ideas and that’s a great foundation for collaboration."
Indeed, how easy or hard is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderments and accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "I am honored that you consider my music wanted-by-the-public. I don’t really think of blues music that way. It is still such an underground genre and the people who love this music are still very few. I just try to write songs that mean something to me. I try to write songs with a positive message that make me feel better and perhaps will make others feel better as well. I shy away from songs that make women victims or that pit women against each other. The songs I write tend to be very personal or sometimes, political. I want to spread a message, prove a point, or just make myself feel better. I don’t really think of my songs in terms of what other industry standards have been set. I just try to be as uniquely myself as possible and hope that my genuineness and my optimism will speak to others."
In truth, as it's such a wonderful, festive name, is that really your real birth name?! "My legal name is Candice Kane."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today and why? "I have always loved 'The Greatest Love Of All.' Its my favorite karaoke song to sing. I love the message that the greatest love of all is really the love we have for ourselves. I heard George Benson do this song. I think he wrote it and its just an amazing timeless song."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins ...do you? "Of course!! I LOVE penguins. I live near sea world and I have a friend with a sailboat. One of my favorite things was going behind sea world where the penguin pen was and watching the penguins from the boat. I have also been to the penguin reserve in capetown south Africa. If you love penguins, you must visit capetown."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
So, if you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Candye's new CD, just answer this easy question: In August 2008, Candye appeared in Cape Town, South Africa for the World Congress for people with disabilities with her show for special needs kids. But, what was the name of that show?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful AUTOGRAPHED CDs by Candye Kane! Just send us an e:mail here before October 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED CANDYE KANE CDs to: email@example.com
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