"LaGue... a strong musical presence who will likely be heard from in years to come." -- Charles Earle, In Review
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Kathleen LaGue Acting


The Kansas City StarThe Kansas City Star
by Danny Alexander 12/28/01

Kansas City native Kathleen LaGue knows how to work the Internet...

Director (and notorious rock lover) Oliver Stone heard her self-produced CD and wrote her a letter, calling it "gutsy poetry, real feeling, raw!"

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 theatre.

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 possibilities.

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 craft.

"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 project."

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 for LaGue.

"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 American music."

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