a strong musical presence who will likely be heard from in years
-- Charles Earle, In Review
Kansas City Star
CREATING A NASHVILLE NICHE
by Danny Alexander 12/28/01
Kansas City native Kathleen LaGue knows how to work
(and notorious rock lover) Oliver Stone heard her self-produced
CD and wrote her a letter, calling it "gutsy poetry, real
She has been on CNN's "Showbiz Today."
In the presses of the competitive Nashville music scene,
where she made her album, she has been called "immensely
talented" and praised for her "open-hearted soulfulness."
On Mp3's regional listings, she had six Top 10 singles on
the Nashville charts for 2000, and her strong stage presence
(with or without a band) has been praised in live reviews
all over the country.
So when Kansas Citians see native rocker Kathleen LaGue
playing either the Hurricane on Saturday night or Fedora's
on Sunday, they may wonder what's wrong with a music industry
that hasn't signed such talent to a major-label deal.
The sins of today's narrowly marketed industry are worth
a series of stories by themselves, but suffice it to say
LaGue's music deserves a broad audience.
Her debut album mixes classic rock bravado with the sort
of edge that makes her music feel refreshingly contemporary.
LaGue's story helps explain how a talented artist emerges
whole cloth without music-industry tailoring. She grew up
the middle child in a large family in the Shawnee Mission
School District, where she performed in choir and musical
In high school, her family moved to Tonganoxie, which "was
good for my creativity, moving from a small fish in a big
pond to a big fish in a smaller pond."
Her original influences were ambitious mainstream rock artists-Linda
Ronstadt, Heart and Fleetwood Mac-which suggests where she
gets both her professionalism and her strong sense of musical
After graduating with majors in art and psychology from
Baker University In Baldwin City, KS, she planned to go
into art therapy but became frustrated with the social service
system during her first internship. Instead she took off
for New York and joined a rock band.
Married in New York, she became a singer in show bands and
also did a great deal of modeling and commercial work. She
credits the experience singing in show bands-performing
everything from torch songs to pop hits-with honing her
"That work helped me get rid of my Broadway-style training,
holding notes out perfectly, and I learned how to sing rock,"
she said. "I got my chops and learned how to front a band."
When her marriage began to come apart after eight years
in New York, she moved to Nashville, learned how to play
guitar and began writing her own songs.
Her original intention was to become part of the Nashville
songwriting circuit, but "it took me two years to realize
that I did not fit into that."
Instead she began writing songs for herself and found the
sort of crack musicians on the Nashville scene who could
help her realize her vision of herself as the lead singer
in a rock band.
"One thing about Nashville that really helped is that the
people there are really nice, and there are so many amazing
musicians," she said. "I met Tom Bukovac (who produces and
plays guitar on her album) when he was playing with Tanya
Tucker. There were all these Midwest musicians...who started
working with me and who loved the chance to work on a rock
During a four-year period, she put together a remarkable
debut. But when it came to getting help with marketing and
distribution of her album, Nashville wasn't so helpful.
"There was nothing there for what I was doing, so I put
it out on my own, and I kept all my own publishing. Without
the Internet and MP3.cm, I could not have put my record
out in any way."
One visit to LaGue's Web site and its long lists of varied
projects and connections to various musicians' collectives
makes it apparent that LaGue knows how to make the most
of the new frontier.
"The more I meet other people who are doing what I'm doing,
we feed off each other and keep each other going."
Recently LaGue put together a band with another female vocalist,
Cassie Berns, and the group went to Greenland to play for
the troops stationed there.
The experience, documented on KATHLEENLAGUE.COM, makes for
great reading. Though the trip was planned in the spring,
the Department of Defense tour came this fall in the wake
of the Sept.11 attacks. It was an overwhelming experience
"It was so much about the people there,"she said. "The men-they
are young; they are just babies.
"We did a lot of covers, and I was in my element because
they are huge rock and country fans. Actually, most of them
weren't Americans. The were from Denmark, but they love