STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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We all know Cyndi Lauper is a girl who just wants to have fun — and has throughout more than 40 years of making pop music, as well as spearheading the Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots.”
But this year Lauper is showing more of her “True Colours,” taking on country music on her latest album, “Detour.”
“That’s how I learned to sing, listening to Wanda Jackson and Patsy Cline,” Lauper, 62, says by phone from her home in New York City. “I learned to sing rock ‘n’ roll by listening to Wanda Jackson, but I learned about country music from her, too. We even did a Patsy Cline song in my band Blue Angel.”
“Detour,” the follow-up to Lauper’s 2010 “Memphis Blues” set, is part of a long-desired collaboration with famed record executive Seymour Stein. He presented Lauper with two album options, country and cabaret; She chose the Nashville route because it felt like an easier sell to the audience.
“The (cabaret) idea would be a great album, but I know 10 of (Stein’s) friends who’d buy it and 10 of mine,” Lauper explains. “So I said, ‘Why don’t we just widen our scope a little bit and go for something that’s more universal, like the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, which would be the country side of the (‘Memphis Blues’) record that I did.”
Lauper recorded “Detour” in Nashville, working with award-winning producer Tony Brown and with guests such as Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Jewel. The songs include both familiar hits (“Walkin’ After Midnight,” “NIght Life,” “I Fall To Piece”) and deeper fare such as “Funnel of Love,” “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” and “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”
And Lauper is confident that depth shows just how dedicated she really is to making a credible country recording.
“I just picked songs that I could relate to, that were stories,” she says. “I decided to approach it like I did the ‘Memphis Blues’ album. When you do an album like this people start throwing all of their favorite songs at you, so I just chose song that were stories I felt I could tell well and relate to.
“See, to me, what makes a record great is a connection between singer and the audience. When people connect to a song you’re connected to the singer who’s connected to the music and the story. It’s all got connections, and it’s all about making people feel that connection.”