Canadian chanteuse k.d. lang has enjoyed a long and successful tenure in pop music, but first gained notoriety by experimenting with country. In addition to the critically-acclaimed albums, 'Angel With a Lariat' and 'Shadowland,' in 1990, she earned a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the aptly-titled 'Absolute Torch and Twang.'

Currently garnering rave reviews for her recently-released album, 'Sing It Loud,' the Alberta native says she still loves country music.

"I love the form and I love the emotional integrity and intensity of country music," k.d. tells Spinner. "The conservative nature of it was the thing that drew me to it. I just liked the idea of going into something so rigid and seeing how far you could push the boundary. Now, to me, country music is so hybrid already, there's nothing that's that outrageous anymore. I never tried to -- and I never did -- fit into it."

Acknowledging country as part of her musical DNA, k.d. says she never planned to make it the focus of her career. "I knew I wasn't going to stay doing country music because it wasn't one of my big musical influences," she notes. "I was intrigued by it for a while."

Although k.d. didn't publicly come out as a lesbian until 1992, with the release of the platinum-selling pop disc, 'Ingenue' -- by which time her foray into country music had ended -- the singer says now that she has "always looked at being gay as a great asset. I was instantly different."

Fans of k.d. lang's country-leaning material may find some of those songs making their way into her always dynamic live show. The singer has just launched her North American tour with her band, the Siss Boom Bang. The 60-city trek features special guests the Belle Brigade, the Secret Sisters and Teddy Thompson.

Watch k.d. lang's exclusive interview with Spinner here.

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