Candye Kane earned her distinction of blues diva the hard way: The jump-blues singer and songwriter from east Los Angeles worked hard and came up through the ranks of other roots-music artists.
She's been called a survivor by some in the music industry. Raised in a dysfunctional family, Kane became a teenage mother, a punk rocker, then a blues-belting chanteuse before the age of 21.
Who: Candye Kane
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10
Where: Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland
In 1986, then married to Thomas Yearsley of The Paladins, Kane discovered the music of Big Maybelle, Ruth Brown, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, Bessie Smith, Etta James and other pioneers of American R&B.
Her self-released 1991 "Burlesque Swing" caught the ear of Clifford Antone, who signed her with Antone's Records. Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos) and Dave Gonzales (The Paladins, Hacienda Brothers) co-produced Kane's "Home Cookin" on Antone's label.
Many albums later, along with miles of international touring and music awards, Kane still belts and croons blues with the best, wowing her audiences with soaring vocals and an amorous stage presence.
Kane and her band — featuring guitarist Laura Chavez, bassist Kennan Shaw and drummer Fred Rautmann — will perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. Duo Robbie DaCosta and Tom Stamper will open the show. The cover charge is $5. Call 541-482-8818 or see www.alexsrestaurantandbar.com.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008, Kane faced her challenge with the help and support of friends, fellow musicians and fans. Pronounced cancer-free less than a year later, she bounced back with her 2009 album, "Superhero," on Delta Groove Productions. The album features guitarist Kid Ramos (Roomful of Blues, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, James Harman), Gonzales and blues harpist Mitch Kashmar.
"All of the songs were written just after I was diagnosed," Kane says during a telephone conversation from her home in Oceanside, Calif. "It was lovely to be in a position to inspire others to overcome their obstacles and work their way through challenges while doing what they love."
"Superhero" offers more than a collection songs with messages of love, hope and empowerment. Kane's songwriting reached out to gays, fat girls, bikers, hippies and folks of all ages, according to her website.
In 2011, Kane reaffirmed her role as a 21st-century blues singer with "Sister Vagabond," also on the Delta Groove label. Here, despite her sexy-mama image, Kane proves she is a first-class singer with enlightened musical sensibilities by presenting a colorful mix of traditional and eclectic blues.
"I thought cancer was behind me," she says. "So I left out some of the power-fighter-girls songs. 'Sister' is more about love, life, things. There's swampy grooves, swing, rockabilly and fun, party songs."
It's a typical Kane record with a lot of different styles, she says. There's a cover of Brenda Lee's "Sweet Nothing" done in a lowdown, Cajun style. "Everybody's Gonna Love Somebody Tonight" is co-written by Jack Tempchin and Glenn Frey of The Eagles. There are versions of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "I Deserve Love" and Curtis Mayfield's "You Can't Hurt Me Anymore."
Kane's cancer returned earlier this year, and once again, she's fighting the good fight. She's touring and sharing positive messages with her audiences while receiving intense medical treatments.
Donations from readers and fans to help cover Kane's medical costs can be made through PayPal on her website at www.candyekane.com.
"One of the songs on 'Superhero,' called 'I'm Going to Be Just Fine,' has turned into my mantra," Kane says. "I deliver inspirational messages no matter how I'm feeling."