Two years ago, singer/songwriter k.d. lang fell into a slump, thanks to the stress and demands of the music business.
"I became jaded and cynical about my line of work," lang said during a phone interview from Los Angeles, Calif. "I had a real challenge changing my attitude and finding the inspiration and desire of my love for my music."
Lang — who, like the poet e.e. cummings, leaves her name in lowercase — will open for Sting at the E Center on Wednesday, July 26. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at all Smith'sTix outlets or by phone at 467-TIXX or 1-800-888-TIXX or on line at www.smithtix.com.
What got lang out of the periods of cynicism and disenchantment was a move — a really big one.
"I live in California now," said the Canadian native. "I fell in love with Los Angeles and fell in love with the music that plays here." The music she refers to is classic California oldies.
"The Mamas & the Papas, the Beach Boys and the 'West Coast' sound were what inspired me to look at life differently," explained lang, who, as a child, grew up listening to Leon Russell, early Linda Ronstadt and Kate Bush. "Before, music was my everything. But now, I look at life as everything. Life is art and music is my craft. I've learned not to approach music so seriously and just have fun with it."
To come to this state of mind, lang took a mental journey deep into her soul and reflected on the past. "I studied my life and my career," said the multiple Grammy Award winner. "I took some time accepting and acknowledging my accomplishments. And that's what brought the fun back into the music again."
In a sense, lang has returned to her original, career-launching mindset, which put things back in perspective for her. "When I first began my career, I was real young. I just wanted to have a hit record.
"That has happened many times for me. And I'm proud of that. Now, I'm nearly 40, and my goal hasn't changed so much. I still want a hit record, but I want something more. To me, the ultimate goal is to have longevity. I want to keep on singing until I'm dead."
After a pause, she added: "And I do not want to lose my integrity."
Lang's first step into her newfound attitude was recording her new album, "Invincible Summer," which was released earlier this year. It's a departure for the singer because of its lush, '70s-era soundtrack orchestrations and swooping, nostalgic warmth — especially on the single "Summer Fling."
"The retro feel was exactly what I wanted," lang said. "Since the 'West Coast' sound had given me a new outlook, I wanted to capture the way I felt. So the album is very autobiographical in lyric and feel. We even used the soft '70s lens on the camera for the cover art."
As yet, lang and Sting haven't officially hit the road. "So I can't tell you how the tour is going," she said with a laugh. "But I can tell you that we're deep into rehearsals. Salt Lake City is actually our second stop. The first stop is on Tuesday in Denver."
It's been about 13 years since lang has been an opening act. And she's excited about it.
"I look at it like I'm the outsider," she said. "I'm not the main attraction, so I've got to go out there and give it my best. I've got to make the set, which is much shorter than what I'm used to, succinct and exciting. And I can't take a lot of liberties with the audience. I've got to go out there, make an impression and leave the rest to Sting."
Lang is playing nine dates with the former Police bassist/vocalist before embarking on her own headlining tour.
"The band and I will tour five weeks in the U.S. and then head to the U.K. in October," she said. "I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be fun again."