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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 16, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 07
Singer, songwriter k.d. lang to perform fundraising concerts on Vashon
Section One
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Singer, songwriter k.d. lang to perform fundraising concerts on Vashon

by Juli Goetz Morser - Vashon Beachcomber

Vashon just got lucky, very lucky. Not lucky once, but twice as international pop and country singer-songwriter k.d lang plans to launch her U.S. 'Ingénue Redux' tour with two benefit concerts at Vashon Center for the Arts in February.

Why Vashon? Her manager, and part-time island resident for the past 14 years Steve Jensen, said it's simple.

'k.d. loves Vashon. She is genuinely excited to do this show,' he said. 'Once I bought my place here, she started to visit me - she is my client and also best friend. She and I decided the band would rehearse here and do a benefit for the Land Trust and Vashon Center for the Arts. The decision felt both special and natural.'

'I have lots of good friends on Vashon, so I've spent a lot of time hanging out and holidaying on the island,' lang said during a recent phone interview. 'I try to make Vashon a place I go to.'

Perhaps because of her small-town roots in Alberta, Canada, lang said she loves the Pacific Northwest, a love she shares with Jensen, so the decision to benefit the Vashon-Maury Land Trust was an easy one.

'Taking care of and preserving the land is a priority,' said lang, who is both a vegetarian and animal rights advocate. 'The fertile soil, how Vashon once had strawberry farms and now has lots of vegetable farms, that's a priority - to focus on growing food.'

Choosing Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) as the second nonprofit recipient was another no-brainer.

'It just makes sense to promote art and artists in a beautiful place with a great community - to cultivate the arts on Vashon - and to have such a great venue to perform in,' she said.

Yet whether it's before a crowd of 100,000 at the opening games of the 2010 Winter Olympics while performing an exquisite and powerful rendition of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' or singing in the smaller, 300-seat Vashon Center for the Arts Katherine L. White Hall, for lang the feeling doesn't change.

'It sounds contrived, but really it is the same,' she said. 'Singing is about integrity, motivation and authenticity.'

It is about being present and connecting with the audience, she said. And she does so with inimitable style - barefoot - unless, of course, it's the East Wing of the White House, where she once performed for President Obama's Christmas dinner.

'There are times when it is inappropriate,' lang said with a full-on laugh, 'but I'll definitely be barefoot on Vashon.'

Like her 2017 Australian and Canadian tour, 'Ingénue Redux' celebrates the 25th anniversary of her Grammy-award winning and platinum-selling album, 'Ingénue,' and the Nonesuch Records release of the re-mastered version of her 1992 album that includes mega-hits like 'Constant Craving' and 'Miss Chatelaine.' lang and her band will perform the entire original album in sequence, followed by other familiar songs. Australian classical guitarist Slava Grigoryan, whose music lang really likes and believes fits well with her own music, will open the show.

So after 25 years of success and musical exploration from country to pop, collaboration with the likes of Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, Elton John, Anne Murray and Ann Wilson plus multiple Juno and Grammy awards, what's it like for the artist to revisit her early music?

'It's like finding a comfortable pair of shoes you've ignored for the past 25 years. It's super familiar and yet really challenging,' she said. 'But in prep for the tour, I thought about what it means to have an audience that has existed with the record and their own emotions and history (connected to it). I didn't want to superimpose any other emotions on top, so I'll deliver the songs as clean and matter of fact as possible.'

That thoughtfulness of others seems in keeping with lang's close to two decades of Tibetan Buddhist practice in the Nyingma tradition. Though not a practicing Buddhist when she wrote 'Ingenue,' she now finds her practice and music to be inseparable.

'Music is part of my practice, and I see it as an offering,' she said. 'My relationship to music has changed. I don't try to own, contain or control it. It is an offering or a teaching when I go out to sing. It's in a space of less attachment to the outcome, more in tune with the actual experience of it. I'm not saying I've mastered it, but I have shifted to the more fluid and non-contrived experience for myself.'

lang's - and Jensen's - beneficence to the island includes waving her artistic fees and donating all proceeds to the two nonprofits. Her organization, in collaboration with the Land Trust and Vashon Center for the Arts, set ticket prices by balancing availability with raising significant funds for both organizations. A $500 VIP level includes front row seating and a 'meet and greet' with the artist. Other tickets were set at $250 and $80. (The $80 tickets are sold out.) Tickets for her show at Seattle's Moore Theatre on Monday, February 26, currently range from $47 to $122.

'We are honored by k.d. lang's gift and generosity,' said Land Trust Executive Director Tom Dean. 'We will direct funds from the benefit to planting our first crop at Matsuda Farm, the harvests of which will go to the food bank and to restoration and trail building in the growing Judd Creek Preserve. We are most excited to be in the audience, as well.'

Vashon Center for the Arts Executive Director Susan Warner echoed Dean's sentiment.

'We are so honored to be beneficiaries of this great artist and music icon. We will utilize these funds for supporting the care and upkeep of the Blue Heron and to further our arts education programming. It is an honor to host her in our wonderful performance hall.'

As for lang, who over the years has participated in Frisbee golf tournaments here and even 'lost a couple of discs,' Vashon feels like home.

'The whole Pacific Northwest is where my heart and soul is, so Vashon is a place I love.'



k.d. lang will perform at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23 and 24, at Vashon Center for the Arts Katherine L. White Hall. 19600 Vashon Highway SW, Vashon WA. Available tickets are $250 and $500. Visit vashoncenterforthearts.org to purchase a ticket.

Courtesy of the Vashion Beachcomber (originally published January 18, 2018)

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