… Finally, have confidence. If you’ve been given the vision to write a book, take the first step, even if you don’t know where to begin. There are people who can help you organize your thoughts and put your work together. But it all starts with having confidence in yourself.
I had the pleasure of talking with Kelly Lang. As a songwriter, Lang has had a stellar career with her songs being recorded by artists such as Ricky Skaggs, Lorrie Morgan, The Oak Ridge Boys, Crystal Gayle, George Jones, B.J. Thomas, Jimmy Fortune, Jerry Lee Lewis, TG Sheppard, and Johnny Lee, just to name a few. She has also performed/recorded duets with iconic artists, Sir Barry Gibb, Dame Olivia Newton-John, Paul Shaffer, and Lee Greenwood. As an artist, Lang has released several albums including 11:11, Shades of K, Throwback, Obsession, and Iconic Duets with her husband T.G. Sheppard. In the spring of 202 g re-released her classic children’s album Lullaby Country, which was originally sold at Cracker Barrel. Also in 2020, Lang released a collection of classic hits that she produced called Old Soul. As part of a national campaign, her voice and writing skills can be heard on television with her song “I’m Not Going Anywhere” throughout the United States as the official anthem for the Ascension Hospital commercial. In 2021, she released her autography also titled I’m Not Going Anywhere. Lang’s new album, Old Soul II, the latest installment of vintage hits is available now.
Thank you so much for joining us once again Kelly. Our readers would love to learn about your childhood origin story. Can you share the story of how you grew up as a child?
Well, I felt like I was actually born an adult, which is kind of strange. I was born the youngest of four children to Velton and Nancy Lang in Oklahoma. My dad was a manager at a grocery store, and Conway Twitty, the big country superstar legend, was always coming into the grocery store needing his big checks cashed over the weekend. My dad, being the manager, cashed his checks for him, and they became really good friends. Conway asked my dad to start working for him, so when he left the grocery business, he went on the road with Conway. Eventually, Conway wanted to move from Oklahoma City to Nashville, and I was around six years old, I guess, when we moved, probably around 30 of us in his organization drove over to Nashville at the same time. We joined a little caravan coming over, and we landed in Hendersonville, Tennessee, which is where I still live. It’s about 20 minutes north of Nashville.
It was really a great move for me, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Being in the music industry, it helped to know a lot of people here, and I immediately started doing TV shows here in Nashville when I was a young girl. I was an average student at best, but I ran into my principal not long ago, and he said, “I remember you. You were an average student, but you really exceeded your social skills.” Apparently, my academics were not the best, but it still led me in the right direction with my music career.
It was a fun childhood. I thought being around entertainers was normal. I thought everybody’s dad worked for some major superstar, and it was very common for Loretta Lynn, George Jones, or whomever to call the house. But the older I got, the more I realized, “Wow, that was a really magical childhood.”
You have had a storied career. Can you share one or two of the most interesting stories that have happened in the course of your music career?
You know, I’m realizing that the music community is much smaller than we think, and every time you meet somebody that you think, “Wow, they’re really something,” they’re always connected somehow. For instance, I became really close friends with Conway, of course, obviously. And then I met Loretta through him, I met my husband through him, and then I met Barry Gibb, who also was friends with Olivia Newton-John, who I later became friends with, who is friends with Marie Osmond, whom now I’m friends with. So it’s a really tight-knit community, and the stories that I have come to understand from learning from these people is that they’re all just people, and they’re all just doing the same thing because they love it. They were born to do it, and it’s a fascinating circle of life. The ones that I’ve gotten to know have become more like family to me. In a way, I feel more normal around them than I do some of my own friends or family. It’s a very beautiful, beautiful thing.
As far as specific stories go, one of my favorite events of my life was singing with Barry Gibb for Kenny Rogers’ induction into the Country Music Association Hall of Fame. So that was a real full-circle moment. But the funny thing is I’m used to being around all the country artists, and Barry being a rock star was not. He loves all the country artists, so he was a nervous wreck that night. It was really fun for me to introduce him to Garth Brooks. He was, he was ecstatic. Of course, Garth was ecstatic to meet him too. So just to be in the middle of all of that it’s just surreal to me. I’m really grateful for these moments.
That’s great. You mentioned Olivia Newton-John and how you know her very well. Can you share with us a story that depicts her humanity, her kindness, and her inner beauty? Give us a picture of who she is as a person.
I mean, she’s the epitome of elegance, class, and kindness. Her personality goes beyond just the music business. She was the essence of love. I still think of her every day, and I can hear her voice in my head. Whenever I completed a project, she would take the time to go through every song with me and express her feelings about each one. She would even play them for her dinner parties. Most people would just throw your CD in a drawer or something, but she was a really good friend who wanted the best for me. She came in a night early to sing a duet with me, even though she was doing a residency in Vegas. She even took the time to call me later and ask how she could help promote the project. I was surprised that she even had the time to do that, but that was just the kind of person she was. She was open and loving, and she always made time for her friends.
Interestingly enough, the duet that she did with me is now going to be on her last album, called “Just The Two Of Us.” It’s every duet she’s ever done in her life, and she’s included our song on this project. The album features so many other amazing artists like Dolly Parton, John Travolta, Barry Gibb, Mariah Carey, and me. It’s just a beautiful gift that she would include me on this album.
She also wrote the forward to my book, which is about our shared experience of breast cancer. She had been diagnosed way before I was, and when she found out that I had gone through it, she shared her wisdom and experience with me. She always allowed her friends to know the wisdom that she had, so they didn’t have to make the same mistakes. She encouraged me to be the same open book, and that’s why I wrote my book. I wanted to be helpful to other people who might be going through a similar experience. I think my book has been a light for people. I’m 18 years out now and I feel like I have the authority to say, “Here’s what I did, and obviously, something went right.” I hope someone can learn through my eyes and my experience.
Can you tell our readers about the new audiobook edition?
At first, when I wrote the book, I was unsure if I had shared too much or not enough, and if anyone would even be interested in reading it. But it has done really well, and it’s a perfect gift for people who have been diagnosed with cancer as a form of hope. Inside the book, I’m really excited about the QR codes that you can scan with your phone’s camera, and they take you to videos related to the chapter you just read. It’s kind of interactive, and I don’t know many books that are doing that right now.
It did so well that I’ve been asked by several people who are too busy to sit down and read or have poor vision to make an audio version, which is now available on all platforms, including Audible, Kindle, Apple, and my website, kellylang.net.
Did you narrate the whole book?
Kelly Lang: Yes, I did. I wrote the whole book myself without a ghostwriter, so I knew what was in there. But when you go back and read it out loud, it takes on a different, more personal feeling. My husband also wrote a chapter from a partner’s perspective and recorded his own audio part for it. Between you and me, at the very last page, I cried. It was powerful tears of joy and emotion.
Okay, this is our signature question that we ask in all of our interviews. Can you share five things you need to know to be a successful author?
First of all, it takes a lot of courage to start writing a book. Procrastination is not an option. I’ve been trying to get my husband to write a book, but he keeps putting it off, saying he’ll start tomorrow. To be successful, you need to eliminate all extra activities from your life and really focus. My first piece of advice is to set aside a specific time, like 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and shut everything else out.
My second piece of advice is to rely heavily on other people for editing, but don’t let them take over and remove your voice from the work. Your own voice must shine through, or the authenticity will be lost. I had someone helping me with editing, and occasionally, she would rewrite something in a way that wasn’t true to my voice. I would go, “that’s not how I would say it.” It’s important to stay true to your own words.
Grammar is not my strong suit, so thank goodness for spell check. Use the tools available to you, and consider taking writing classes, especially those that focus on the type of book you want to write.
I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Apple and Amazon. The Amazon publishing company has been fantastic for me. You can purchase books as needed, without having to buy thousands of copies. I highly recommend Amazon’s KDP Publishing.
Finally, have confidence. If you’ve been given the vision to write a book, take the first step, even if you don’t know where to begin. There are people who can help you organize your thoughts and put your work together. But it all starts with having confidence in yourself.
Okay. We’re almost done. Can you share with our readers the self care routines that you do to help your body, mind and heart to thrive?
I love these questions. I mean, I can be lazy like anybody can. I can go through periods of time where I don’t want to exercise or whatever. But those are the times that it’s harder to bounce back if you let yourself go a little.
I really love Pilates, and I know that a lot of people might not even know what that is. But it’s similar to yoga in the fact that you’re using your own body weight to build muscle. It’s really great for me because my brain is very fast-paced, and yoga is too slow for me. So Pilates allows me to do exercises quicker. And if you’re feeling pain, you stop right there, which I like. I never liked the saying “no pain, no gain.”
I get low blood sugar really easily, so I have to eat all the time. I think that keeps things burning.
Ladies, whoever wears makeup, take your makeup off every single night, use moisturizer because, trust me, it will catch up with you whether you like it or not.
For mental things, I know this sounds really silly, but with COVID happening, everybody was just staying home, so they didn’t feel the need to take care of themselves. They let themselves go and wore pajamas every day or whatever. I think it’s essential for us as humans to get up, get dressed, even if it’s just for yourself. Put your makeup on, do something for yourself each day. I’ve been doing a series of videos called “You Matter” as a reminder to take care of yourself because we all need to be reminded of that. I think it helps us mentally to be our best version of ourselves every day.
Kelly. This is our last question. You are a person of enormous influence because of the platform you’ve created and your amazing work. If you could spread an idea or start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can inspire.
My idea is very simple: give your smile away. It may seem small, but you never know what the person behind you in line at the grocery store is going through. They may be struggling with a disease, a sick child, or an ill parent, or they might just be having a bad day. But I’ve learned that if you smile at them long enough, even if they’re grumpy, it’s inhumane not to smile back. It’s like paying it forward, and a smile can change the whole world.
I completely agree. Can you think of a story where someone’s smile changed your day, or vice versa? Well, I’ve been in the drive-thru at a restaurant before, and someone ahead of me paid for my meal. I was so touched and wondered what I had done to deserve it. It made me want to pick up the tab for the person behind me, and if we all thought like that and paid it forward, it would make a big difference. It could be as simple as picking up the check for an elderly person at a restaurant. It means the world to them, and it’s not a big sacrifice for us.
This kind of kindness can be practiced anywhere, like letting someone in line in traffic or opening a door for someone. It’s crazy to me that some women don’t want men to open doors for them. I love being feminine and having a gentleman open the door for me. It’s a learned behavior, and I try to be mindful of others. Everyone is hurting in some way and needs special attention and love. If it’s nothing off of you, step out of your comfort zone and be kind to somebody.
I love it! Great answer, Kelly. How can our readers buy your book and keep up with your work? Well, you can find everything at kellylang.net. All the connections are there.
Of course, I also love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and I’m even dabbling in TikTok. It’s a bit out of control, and I don’t quite understand it, but I love interacting with people. So, for anything you want to know about me, head over to kellylang.net, and it’ll take you where you need to go.
Thank you so much for this amazing conversation. I love talking with you, and I wish you continued blessings, good health, and success for you and your whole family. I look forward to our next conversation.
Let’s get together again! I’m currently recording a duet project with my husband, T G Sheppard, and it’ll be out in the fall. So, maybe we’ll circle back around and talk about that when it’s ready.
I would love that.