|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS CANDYE KANE
TOUGHEN UP!Blues mama CANDYE KANE is no stranger to adversity. When faced with a turbulent home life, music proved to be her salvation. When she became pregnant as a teenager, she knew in her heart of hearts that music was going to be the very thing that she would return to once her own budding family became stable. When she first started penning material for what would be her latest album, KANE was coming out of a ten year relationship and was ready to share her heartbreak with the world until two words changed her life forever Ė pancreatic cancer. ďI pretty much thought that I was going to die.Ē says KANE ďA pancreatic cancer diagnosis is pretty hard core. When they told me that that was what I had, I pretty much thought that that was it. I started making sure that my life insurance policy was intact and thinking about how I was going to leave my house to my kids and trying to get my affairs in order. I had a couple of tours that I ended up having to cancel and I had to figure out when my surgery was going to happen.Ē
CANDYE KANE TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HER CD SUPERHERO
AND TAKiNG CHARGE OF HER DESTiNY
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
Blessed with an indomitable spirit and a keen survivorís instinct that she has possessed since her hardĖknock childhood, KANE made it through her surgery. While healing from the surgery proved to be arduous and exhausting, she turned to the one thing that has always gotten her through without fail Ė music. ďI was feeling sorry for myself and crawling around on the floor with one-hundred and fifty stitches and I could hardly walk.Ē remembers KANE ďIíd look out the window to my bike and wouldnít even have the strength to get up and ride my bike. I just felt like there where times when I thought that I was never going to get better and I was impatient with my body. TOUGHEN UP was a song about the good things that I had such as a roof over my head, the sky that was blue and friends and loved ones that cared about me.Ē
Now, KANE is cancer-free and has a message of hope and survival that she wants to share with the world on her latest release SUPERHERO (DELTA GROOVE MUSIC). ďIt sounds a little lofty to put that much importance on an independently released minor blues CD but there is a message on this CD that really needs to be heard.Ē says KANE ďIt is kind of a hopeless time right now with the economy so if I can give a little hope to people and make them feel inspired then thatís a beautiful thing.Ē
ROCKWIRED spoke with CANDYE KANE over the phone. Here is how it went.
Touring at the moment?
Yes we are. Weíve been out for about six weeks.
How much further do you have to go?
Weíll out until September 15th.
And how are audiences reacting to the new music as well as the old?
Itís great! I do selections from all ten of my CDs at every show but weíre doing a lot of material from the new CD ĎSUPERHEROí. People are loving it! This is my second big east tour since Iíve had cancer and people are coming out in droves and really being supportive. Somebody said yesterday that my show was like church with beer. What could be better than that?
It sounds like my kind of church. The CD is great and itís obviously a very momentous one for you considering everything that youíve been through in the past year.
Thatís right! I didnít know if I would be alive to make a new CD so it is a real triumph to have one and to be healthy enough to be out here and doing this. I just feel like Iím a walking miracle on some level and that has been really apparent at the shows too because people really feel comfortable telling me their stories about loss and challenges with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. There are a lot of tears at the end of a show when people are talking to me about losing a loved one to pancreatic cancer. Iíve always been a positive affirmation person and considered myself to be some kind of healer but the show has taken on more healing dimensions because of what Iíve been through.
Now that SUPERHERO is out there for people to hear, whatís all going through your head about the finished product?
I feel really proud of it. This CD features the band that Iím actually playing live with and thatís kind f different. Iíve used a lot of studio musicians on other CDs in the past and Iíve also done CDs with my touring band and then the band had broken up when the record came out. This is the first time that the band on the record is still playing with me live on stage so thatís exciting and really fun. Maybe there is a reason that Iím still here to be able to talk about cancer and to talk about challenges and to talk about positive affirmation and why itís important to know where are heads are. It sounds a little lofty to put that much importance on an independently released minor blues CD but there is a message on this CD that really needs to be heard. It is kind of a hopeless time right now with the economy so if I can give a little hope to people and make them feel inspired then thatís a beautiful thing.
How did music begin for you?
I was always a singer. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and I found that I could get positive attention from strangers with my voice so I sang outside of the grocery store and I sang on the steps of the library and sang where ever I had a chance to whomever would listen. That really helped me find a foundation when I wasnít really given a lot of positive attention at home. As a teenager, I sang at amateur shows and I sang at church and eventually I had a baby so I had to put some of my showbiz aspirations on hold while I figured out how to support myself and my child. Eventually, my life came around full circle and I was able to return to music which was where I knew I needed to be I the first place. My son is all grown now and heís my drummer.
So itís a family affair then?
Yes exactly. My younger son is in college and studying music. Both of my sons have grown up in bars and around music. Itís been really wonderful to have my son EVAN CALEB on the record and LAURA CHAVEZ is my guitar player but I call her my daughter because sheís twenty seven and she feels like sheís my daughter. They reviewed the record in VINTAGE GUITAR and they said that sheís ĎÖnot just a rising star. Sheís already arrived!í Sheís making a big splash in the blues world. People are really digging her and she is an important part of why the record sounds the way it does as well as the entire band. Everyone really stepped forward and I think that all of us felt really committed to making a powerful statement after all that we had been through.
Talk about the rest of the band.
My son EVAN is the backbone of everything being the drummer. Of everyone in the band, he was obviously the most affected by what was going on. At the same time he had to be the tough older brother and not show how scared and fragile he was throughout the whole situation. It was really a personal thing, even though he didnít talk about it as much. Heís been with me my whole life pretty much. I had him when I was seventeen and Iím sure that was a scary thing for him to think about. There is a lot of heart in his contribution to the band. PAUL LORANGER is kind of the veteran of the band. Heís been around a long, long time but heís done a lot of spiritual and self work and really appreciates being in a band where we actually talk about healing issues, transcendence and spirituality. He brings a lot of heart and a lot of experience to the band. He played with ERIC SARDINAS for many years before he played with me. He has a very interesting, well-rounded background. LAURA CHAVEZ is this undiscovered, natural talent. I canít explain it. It just bursts out of her. I donít think she can help it. I feel like Iím a vehicle for her to be able to shine and do what she needs to do musically. Sheís really educated musically and Iím not. Sheís a good listener and really sensitive and listens well to my musical ideas. Itís hard to have a singer who is not an instrumentalist try to explain musical ideas and LAURA is very good at listening well and being able to try to figure out what Iím trying to say musically and sheís good at conveying that to the rest of the band. I think everyone of us was really affected by this illness even though it was me and EVAN that were personally effected. All of them rely on me for income and rely on me for their job. They had just joined the band a month before I was diagnosed. It wouldíve been easy for them to go Ďthis is a nightmare! Iím just going to walk away from this and find another project.í But they stuck in there. Because of that, we are stronger as a unit and good results have come from it and I think that will help solidify some of the things that happen for us in the future.
How does songwriting work for you?
Every song is different. Some songs come to me in dreams and some songs come to me as poetry. I keep a journal and I write on a daily basis. I write blogs and I write poetry and I keep a diary. A lot of my songs come from those sources. When I Ďm going through a crisis, I tend to write a lot of stuff down and then when itís time to make a record, I go back and I revisit some of the things that Iíve written to see if there is anything there that could be a good song. Other times, some songs are born entirely with the music and the words so every song is like a new child with itís own evolution.
Following your diagnosis, how hard was it to rely on going about writing a song and making a record?
I pretty much thought that I was going to die. A pancreatic cancer diagnosis is pretty hard core. When they told me that that was what I had, I pretty much thought that that was it. I started making sure that my life insurance policy was intact and thinking about how I was going to leave my house to my kids and trying to get my affairs in order. I had a couple of tours that I ended up having to cancel and I had to figure out when my surgery was going to happen. So I wasnít thinking to much about writing songs at that point but once I got out of the hospital and realized that I was going to survive, then I wrote songs to make myself feel better. One of the songs IíM GONNA BE JUST FINE was the song that I wrote to myself and sang to myself everyday before the surgery and as I healed from the surgery. I sang it several times a day to myself as a positive affirmation. A song tends to get stuck in your head and stay there and so I really felt that writing a song about healing was going to be more powerful than just the words so writing that song and singing it to myself really worked. Whenever I felt like I was going to die, Iíd sing that song to myself and take a walk in the sunshine. Thatís one of the powers of music I think.
Iíve always heard the pancreatic cancer is inoperable so what kind of surgery did they do?
I had a neuroendocrine tumor, which is the same kind of tumor that STEVE JOBS had who is the head of APPLE and a neuroendocrine tumor is different from adrenocarcinoma. A neuroendocrine tumor is only treated by surgery Ė chemo and radiation do nothing for neuroendocrine tumors. If my cancer were to recur, it would recur to my liver and I would have to have surgery to remove part of my liver. The advantage to neuroendocrine tumors is that they donít move quite as aggressively as adenocarcinoma tumors although I did have twenty lymph nodes removed and fourteen of them had cancer. Neuroendocrine type cancers are considered the Ďgoodí kind of cancer because the tumors donít move quite as aggressively. The bad part about it is that one in a thousand people get this kind of cancer and so the research that has been done on it is very archaic. They are still doing the exact same surgery on them that they did in 1970. Itís called the WHIPPLE SURGERY. DR. WHIPPLE invented the procedure in 1970 and they really havenít moved past that initial treatment. There are a lot of parts from you that they remove that probably donít need to be removed but are considered pre-emptive. They removed ten inches of my small intestine, a part of my bile duct, a part of my stomach, a part of my pancreas, my entire gall bladder and part of my duodenum and many of those parts didnít have cancer in them. Itís all done as a pre-emptive move. Itís a little bit controversial because a lot of people who suffer from this kind of cancer wish that STEVE JOBS would come forward and talk a little more about his own experience with this cancer because heís an influential and wealthy man. People who have this cancer hoped that maybe someone like him could be a spokesperson and push forward some more research but because it only affects three hundred thousand people, its not the kind of cancer that everyone gets. Itís not the one that takes you in six months. When my doctor first old me that I had pancreatic cancer, he didnít explain any of that stuff. All of this was stuff that I found out on my own by doing research and figuring things out. All they will tell you is that you have pancreatic cancer and youíve got to have surgery. This is a different kind of cancer. The good news was that I didnít have to have chemo and radiation. That was why I was healthier and able to choose and able to keep my nutrition level up and able to keep my immune system going and I didnít lose my hair. I still lost a hundred pounds and I had a hundred and fifty stitches in my abdomen and had a lot of my guts scrambled up but overall, I think I was in better shape than someone who has the adenocarcinoma which is often fatal in a very short time.
If someone were to come down with cancer, what words of encouragement would you give them?
There was a great book that I read called BEATING CANCER WITH NUTRITION by PATRICK QUILLEN. This book really helped me evaluate the foods that I was eating and why. There are certain camps out there that believe that sugar and fungus are related to cancer growth and I was on a diet that was eighty percent sugar. . I would eat a doughnut for breakfast and for lunch I would eat a hot dog or a sandwich with lunchmeat and some chips or fries and then pizza for dinner and then drink a bunch of alcohol and have ice cream for dessert. Everything that I was eating was turning to sugar in my body. Now that I know more about the relationship between sugar and cancer, Iím a lot more careful about where my sugar comes from and when I ingest it. Do I want to have this piece of bread or do I want to wait so I can have a cocktail later or do I want to eat this muffin or do I wan to wait and have croutons on my salad later? All of those starches turn to sugar in your body and I wasnít aware of that and that may have been partly why I was overweight and it also probably helped my cancer to grow faster. The other thing I learned about cancer is that alkalizing your body is important. Our bodies are eighty percent water. When a swimming pool doesnít have the proper pH, it grows a lot of bacteria. If the water in our body is acidic and filled with sugars and toxins then we need to routinely alkaline our bodies. I would tell anyone that is dealing with cancer to google Ďalkaline dietí right away and find out about alkalizing foods and foods to avoid. Once you have cancer, your body is going to start craving whatever is going to help the cancer grow and it is a trick that cancer plays on your body. When you go around eating sugar, youíre helping your cancer to spread. That is what many health care practitioners believe. It is a very delicate balance of positive thinking, early detection, of good surgeons, of self Ėammunition Ė youíve really got to educate yourself on what you have. I read about thirty books on cancer and on pancreatic disorders and nutrition. All of that stuff really helped me and armed me with information. When I would meet with my doctor, I had good questions. I had them written down and I knew what I wanted to ask. I think a lot of people just put too much trust in doctors and an external source. We sit around waiting for God to heal us and ĎIf itís meant to be Iíll live and if itís no meant to be Iíll dieí and some people go the other way and say Ďwell Iím gonna die so Iím going to go out having a good time!í Those are really bad ways to look at it. You are in charge of your own destiny so you have to arm yourself with as much information as possible and use it all to your advantage.
From SUPERHERO, what songs off of it stand out for you the most and why?
SUPERHERO, TOUGHEN UP and IíM GONNA BE JUST FINE are the cancer-related songs. TOUGHEN UP was one that I wrote when I was feeling sorry for myself and crawling around on the floor with one-hundred and fifty stitches and I could hardly walk. Iíd look out the window to my bike and wouldnít even have the strength to get up and ride my bike. I just felt like there where times when I thought that I was never going to get better and I was impatient with my body. TOUGHEN UP was a song about the good things that I had such as a roof over my head, the sky that was blue and friends and loved ones that cared about me. SUPERHERO was another one that helped me to say ĎHey! I can do this! I can stand up and fight and I can still come home and make dinner when Iím finishedí. IíM GONNA BE FINE is the personal affirmation song that I sang to myself everyday. It was never a song that I intended to do everyday but I included it on the CD because I thought that somebody else who might be going through this challenge could use that song for their own affirmation and sing it everyday and maybe it would help them too. Before I got cancer I was going through a very intense break up. It was the end of a long ten-year relationship with someone that I loved very much. There were a lot of songs that I had written in anticipation of my next record but once cancer came into my life, it kind of superseded everything else. I didnít focus on the break up anymore. Instead, I focused on healing and getting better. Once we made the record, I was able to tap into all of those songs about the break up and all of the songs about my broken heart and things like that. Thatís why the album has a mixture of heartbreak songs with the cancer songs. Cancer does overshadow everything else that is going on in you life so it was kind of a reprieve from my broken heart but it was still there.
What would you like someone to come away with after theyíve heard this album?
I really think this album has healing elements. If I can do it they can do it and that is what my message has always been. I had an album out called ĎTHE TOUGHEST GIRL ALIVEí on the ROUNDER label a few years ago and it was the same thing. ĎTHE TOUGHEST GIRL ALIVEí was a song that was designed to say ĎHey! Iíve been through a whole bunch in my life and I can get through this too!í I think that every challenge and obstacle that we deal with on a daily basis is preparing us for whatís to come and we donít know whatís down the road ahead of us. It could be something worse or it could be something better but whatever character building things have happened to us in our lives, it is preparing us to handle whatever happens next. That is what I hope people can take away from this album Ė that they have the strength inside of them. Itís not external and that they are their own superhero and they have to think like one all of the time and not wait for someone else to rescue them whether itís a partner or a God. Thatís not going to work. Itís got to come from within you and when it does you can take charge of your own destiny and make it happen.