|Candye Kane is a right-on sister|
Candye is performing on Sept. 16 in Des Moines at All Play and on Sept. 18 in Sioux City at The Chesterfield.
For more than 15 years, Candye Kane has been known as an out blues diva. But she “grew up listening to the records in my parents’ closet which included Bobby Darin, Sinatra and Judy Garland,” as well as the “Oklahoma!” and “King and I” soundtracks. As she proudly proclaims, “I have always been a show tune queen and it’s no secret.” That’s a good thing, considering that she recently performed her play “The Toughest Girl Alive” at the New York Fringe Festival. I spoke with Candye about the play, her new album “Sister Vagabond” (Delta Groove) and much more.
Gregg Shapiro: Candye, you were recently in New York doing a play.
Candye Kane: I was in NYC performing my stage play, “The Toughest Girl Alive,” which ran until August 27. The play was a huge success in San Diego and sold out every night at the Moxie Theater, so we were honored to be part of the Fringe (Festival). It was adapted and choreographed by the head of the San Diego Ballet, Javier Velasco, who also is a fan and a friend. Javier adapted the play from my memoir/book proposal and did a lovely job weaving my 23 original songs in between the stories. It’s a play about triumph over adversity and about how my early life and personal choices shaped who I have become today. Robert Kirk plays all the male characters in my life (my father, Ron Jeremy, Sherman Halsey, Dwight Yoakum) and Bethany Slomka (the great niece of Marni Nixon) plays all the female characters in my life (my mother, my best friend, etc.) I play myself and narrate the show and my entire band is onstage and in the show.
GS: If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you about the recent controversy surrounding the cancellation of your appearance at the Shelby Blues and BBQ Festival in Pelham, Alabama. In your own words, can you please briefly say something about the situation?
CK: I was hired for the Shelby Blues and BBQ event and then later informed by my agent at Piedmont Talent that a certain person on the Shelby Chamber of Commerce had decided I was not "family enough" for their event based on a Google search she conducted. Specifically she named the fact that I was gay and that I had been involved in sex work over 30 years ago. The contracts were still being sent back and forth throuugh the mail, but I was confirmed for the event and there were already tickets being sold using my name on several different Alabama ticket websites. It’s a shame because my show is so much about empowerment and is such an inspirational show that embraces and preaches tolerance and diversity. I think the people of Shelby really need to see and hear my super hero message.
GS: The prudishness seems hypocritical considering the often sexually suggestive nature of blues songs, don’t you think?
CK: I agree. The blues is rich with sexual innuendo and many of the older songs embraced and celebrated blatant sexuality (“I Want Some Sugar In My Bowl,” “Big Ten Inch Record,” “Shave ‘Em Dry,” “That’s My Daddy With the Big Long Sliding Thing”), but this is not the first time I have been judged and marginalized by a festival or a venue because of my choices to be vocal about gay marriage, transgender issues, sex work issues and prostitution issues. I pay a price sometimes for my candor but I am also one of the only blues artists who can say with pride that I perform blues, jazz, hooker and gay pride festivals simultaneously around the world.