Born in Alberta, lang was first drawn toward music while she was in college, attracted to the music of Patsy Cline. She became acquainted with Cline’s music while she was preparing to star in a collegiate theatrical production based on the vocalist’s life. Soon, lang immersed herself within Cline’s life and music and decided that she would pursue a career as a professional singer. With the help of guitarist/co-songwriter Ben Mink, she formed a band, named the Reclines in tribute to Patsy Cline, in 1983, and they recorded a debut album, Friday Dance Promenade. A follow-up album, A Truly Western Experience, was released in 1984 and led to national attention. In 1985, she won the Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist, accepting the award wearing a wedding dress. She has won eight Juno Awards.
All of the Canadian attention led to the interest of a number of American record labels. Sire signed lang in early 1986, and she recorded her first record for the label later that year. The result, Angel with a Lariat, produced by Dave Edmunds, appeared in the fall of 1986. As she was recording her second Nashville album in 1987, lang performed a duet with Roy Orbison on his old hit “Crying,” which was recorded for the film Hiding Out. The single was released at the end of the year and was a hit, marking her first appearance on the country charts.
Shadowland, her second Sire album, made her debt to Patsy Cline explicit. Recorded with Cline’s producer, Owen Bradley, the album became a sizable hit, both in modern country and alternative music circles, which led to it going gold. The following year lang released the harder-edged Absolute Torch and Twang, which increased her mainstream American country audience, in addition to being a college radio and Canadian hit. Lang won a Grammy — Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.
Before the release of her fourth album, Ingénue, lang declared that she was a lesbian in an interview in The Advocate, which was a risky proposition, since Nashville’s industry was notorious for not accepting people who fell outside of the margins of the mainstream. Ingénue was a set of adult contemporary pop that owed very little to country. Its first single, “Constant Craving,” became a Top 40 American hit and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, leading the album to platinum status in America, Britain, and Australia; it went double platinum in Canada.
It wasn’t until 1995 that lang delivered All You Can Eat, her full-fledged follow-up to Ingénue. All You Can Eat continued the pop direction of its predecessor, showing no traces of country. Lang continued to follow her pop-oriented instincts on 2000’s Invincible Summer, while embracing traditional popular standards on 1997’s Drag (a collection of songs about smoking) and in her duet with Tony Bennett on his 2001 set Playin’ with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues.
In 2004, after lang’s contract with Sire Records ran its course, she signed with the artist-friendly Nonesuch imprint and recorded Hymns of the 49th Parallel, a collection of tunes by Canadian songwriters. Reintarnation, a compilation of her Sire years, was released in 2006, and lang unveiled her first batch of original material in eight years with 2008’s Watershed. Lang’s third Nonesuch album, the country-centric Sing It Loud, arrived in April 2011.