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Candye Kane may still be a well-kept mainstream secret but in most underground circles, her diva status is legendary. She has been making music professionally for over two decades and toured worldwide since 1992, performing for amazingly diverse audiences. She played at the French Embassy in Rome for the President of Italy, headlined the Rhythm Riot, a rockabilly and R&B festival in the UK, and belted it out alongside Ray Charles at the Cognac Blues Festival. She slayed em' at the Cannes Film Festival, kept them enthralled at New York Gay Pride and most recently, helped organize a thirteen city tour of the Netherlands for special needs kids.
The mother of two grown sons, one who plays drums in her road band, Candye is a colorful mixture of the traditional and the eclectic. Her background as an L.A. punk rock anarchist and her outspoken activism for the disenfranchised, continue to make her a sought after talk show guest and interview. She composes songs with her history firmly in the spotlight, writing songs that inspire and empower; The Toughest Girl Alive, (soon to be included in a television series for the CW network) Who do you love It's alright nominated for an OUT music Award, 200 Pounds of Fun featured in the motion picture, The Girl Next Door, For Your Love included on an episode of the Chris Isaak show and The Lord was a Woman, recorded by comedienne Judy Tenuta are just a few titles from Candye's abundant catalog of original music.
Kane's bumpy road to success has been a twisted journey of obstacles and adversity.
She survived an extremely dysfunctional childhood, marred by a missing father and a verbally abusive mother who taught her to shoplift at the tender age of nine. Raised in East Los Angeles, Kane became a product of her environment, dabbling in the gang culture and becoming an unwed mother at the age of seventeen. In spite of her rocky beginnings, which included a brief stint in the adult entertainment business, she never lost sight of her desire to sing. She became part of the burgeoning punk rock music scene of the early 80s. A few miles west of her poverty stricken neighborhood, Hollywood was brimming with musical talent. She found herself starting country punk bands and befriending and sharing the stage with musicians as diverse as Fear, Black Flag, Social Distortion, Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs, The Screamin Sirens, Tex and the Horseheads, James Harman, The Circle Jerks, Los Lobos, X, The Bags, The Blasters, The Gears, Lone Justice and Dwight Yoakum.
In 1986, Kane caught the attention of CBS/Epic A&R Head, Larry Hanby. She was signed to a developmental deal and recorded her first demo with Grammy Winner Val Garay. Kane was initially marketed as a country singer but her chance for the golden ring was doomed. CBS dropped her when they found out about her controversial past. Managers and Agents encouraged her to lose weight, renounce her past and basically change everything about herself.
Discouraged and broken hearted, Candye moved from Los Angeles to a sleepy beach community in San Diego. She got married, gave birth to another son and became a Women's Studies Major at the local Community College. She continued to write songs and accidentally discovered the brash blues stylings of Big Maybelle, Ruth Brown, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James (whom Candye has opened for several times) and Bessie Smith. The Blues was a place where women had colorful pasts - many were plus sized like herself. Most had grown up in oppressive, horrible circumstances and yet were still able to make music and celebrate their sexual lives.
Candye Kane found a home in the blues.
Since her first Antones' release, Home Cookin' in 1992, she has recorded 7 cds for labels that include Discovery, Rounder/Bullseye, Sire records and Germany based RUF records. Her eighth cd, tentatively titled "Guitar'd and Feathered" will feature performances by many of Candye's closest guitar playing pals. A remake of the song "Female Trouble;" penned by drag queen Divine for the John Waters movie of the same name, was recorded earlier this month in Amsterdam with Ana Popovic. Other guitar slinger guests will include Sue Foley, Junior Watson, Dave Alvin, Poison Ivy of the Cramps, Popa Chubby and Nick Curran. Produced by former Muddy Waters guitarist, Bob Margolin, Kane's latest effort proves to be an exciting merger of Candye's powerful vocals with scorching guitar icons. Look for a spring 2007 release.
Candye's live show is the stuff of legend. She honors the bold blues women of the past with both feet firmly planted in the present. She belts - growls - shouts - croons and moans from a lifetime of suffering and overcoming obstacles. She'll deliver a barrelhouse blues tune or a soulful ballad and then slay the crowd with her balls out rendition of "Whole Lotta Love" Led Zeppelin style. She often says she is a "black drag queen trapped in a white woman's body" and she dresses the part. Bedecked in bright colored feathers, sequins and rhinestones, Kane's performance is Mississippi by way of Las Vegas with a quick stopover in San Francisco.
Awards include the Best Blues Band Award at the San Diego Music Awards 7 times including 2006. Other recent honors include winning an OUT music Award in 2006 for best art design for her 7th CD, White Trash Girl. Best Blues CD of 2005 at the San Diego Music Awards, the Trophees France International Award 2004 for Best International Blues Chanteuse and Artist of the Year. She also unseated Jewel for Artist of the Year at the San Diego Music Awards and won the California Music Award for Best Swing-Cabaret Artist.
Her audience is a mixture of the disenfranchised: bikers, blues fans, fat girls, queers, porn fans, feminists, men who love fat girls, rockabilly kids and everyday folk flock to see Candye and hear her message of love and empowerment.
Yes, her story reads like a made for TV movie or an episode of the Jerry Springer show. But Candye Kane's story is 100% non-fiction. She persevered in spite of the people who discouraged her and tried to force her to conform. She survived her own way, on her own terms.