Buoyed by her resilience, the dynamic and outspoken blues singer has released seven CDs and enjoys popularity among diverse European and stateside crowds. Her newest disc, “Whole Lotta Love,” is a wide-ranging collection of original songs and blues-styled interpretations of tunes by Carole King, Squeeze, Willie Dixon and others. Her outspoken take on AIDS, gay pride, battered women and bisexuality was a tough sell to record business types, but it endeared her to many who grew up left of the mainstream and many others who simply have a sense of humor.
“I’m a sum of all my parts,” Kane says. “So it’s natural people who come up the hard way relate to who I am.”
Kane knew she was a singer at a young age, growing up in East Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s. She entered amateur contests as she matured, but says, “I was always losing to the thin blond girl who could sing like Julie Andrews.”
Living off welfare, raising her son and performing occasionally, Kane needed money. She took jobs as a phone-sex girl, a stripper and a porn actress, and left welfare behind. The early-’80s L.A. cowpunk-music community considered her a rebel and gave her the personal and professional support she needed. Kane says she managed to avoid the hard drugs and disease of porn’s seediest side, and she remains proud of her past.
“I was a pretty nice girl. … I had never even talked dirty,” she says. “But when you’re desperate for money, you do strange things to survive. … I didn’t think it was anything to be ashamed of.”
In her late 20s, Kane entered college to study music, and she grew interested in women’s issues.
“I started seeing the links between feminism and creating my own destiny,” she explains. “I call myself a sex-positive feminist. Pursue what makes you successful, independent.”
Kane contributes some of her free time to National Organization for Women events and AIDS walks. In her professional life, Kane recently returned from Europe and her U.S. tour brings her to Poe’s Pub Thursday, June 12. Her shows are musical, frank and funny, and she walks the fine line between the candid and the offensive nightly. Kane also brings a message to the stage.
“I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve,” she says. “I need to talk about [pursuing dreams]. … I used the sex business to live my dreams. You can live yours, too. I believe [fans] need to dig their dreams up to be whole. I really think that’s the problem with our world. We’re really quick to shatter dreams.” S
Candye Kane preforms at Poe’s Pub, 2706 E. Main St., Thursday, June 12, at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door.
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