KELLY LANG “I Think It’s Jesus” VIDEO PREMIERE – with Web-Exclusive Interview

Musician:  KELLY LANG

Video Premiere:  “I Think It’s Jesus”


M Music & Musicians magazine is proud to present the Video Premiere of Kelly Lang’s “I Think It’s Jesus.”

Kelly Lang is the living definition of a true Renaissance woman. Singer, songwriter, producer, painter, author, speaker and comedian are roles she has embraced passionately. Lang’s physiognomy and voice beam a love of life and warm glow further complementing her chic fashion sense and perfect accessories, but the story of her success has featured plot twists worthy of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. M Music and Musician’s magazine spoke with Lang about the source of her creative inspiration, ruminations on lessons learned in the recording studio, kinship with her audience, battle with cancer and prescription for artistic success.

Life in Oklahoma
Born the youngest of four children in Oklahoma, Kelly was immersed in music at an early age. Lang’s mother used to spin the records of Elvis, Frankie Valli and Gladys Knight at home. As the music blared through the walls, Kelly hoped one day when she grew up to be a singer like Knight, and remembers roller skating to her songs. Lang has always been around the music industry. She was introduced to it in a non-traditional way.  Kelly’s father, Velton Lang, was the manager of a grocery store that Conway Twitty frequented when the country music legend needed large checks cashed after bankers’ hours, which led to the two cultivating a friendship. When Twitty offered the Lang patriarch a position working for him, Velton obliged—following his exit from the grocery business, writing a new chapter in his life as Conway’s road manager.

Exodus to Nashville
The Lang family made their exodus from Oklahoma City when Conway Twitty committed to a geographical relocation, and a six-year-old Kelly landed in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She had experiences different from most children entering kindergarten, including writing her first song, country music stars like Loretta Lynn and George Jones ringing the household landline, and meeting singer, actress and Aussie superstar Dame Olivia Newton-John through Twitty.

“Hello Darlin’” Academically Average Social Butterfly Growing Up Around Conway Twitty
Growing up around Conway inspired Lang to want to do more, and she was given the privilege of having a backseat view to see everything from Twitty’s perspective. She remembers Conway as kind, loving and an ever-present family friend. Lang describes her enthusiasm for performing during this era as way more before her talent caught up with it. A faded photo of Kelly as a little girl offers a glimpse both into her childhood and Velton’s working relationship with Twitty. Conway and port baseball caps and yellow jerseys emblazoned with the words “Twitty Bird,” while Kelly in all capital letters graces the pigtailed schoolgirl’s t-shirt. Velton’s trajectory for Kelly Lang’s success now began to materialize as the academically average social butterfly found herself 20 minutes north of Nashville, the songwriting capital of the world, singing on The Ralph Emery Morning Show when she was 12.


Penning Compositions Brings Prosperity
Penning compositions which have been recorded by the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Lorrie Morgan, The Oak Ridge Boys, Crystal Gayle, George Jones, B.J. Thomas, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Lee highlights Lang’s success as a songwriter. Sir Barry Gibb, Dame Olivia Newton-John, Paul Shaffer and Lee Greenwood have performed or recorded duets with Kelly Lang, who has 12 albums to her credit ranging from original material and covers of retro hits to children’s songs. 11:11, Shades of K, Throwback, Iconic Duets (with husband T.G. Sheppard), and Old Soul II (which Lang also produced) are among the compendium pieces needed to see beyond Kelly Lang’s visage.

Cancer Diagnosis, “A Life Sentence”
Through self-exam Lang found two lumps which prompted her to see a doctor, who told her that she was too young to have breast cancer. It never showed up on a mammogram or ultrasound, but it was just something that Lang felt—chalk it up to her intuition. Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, Lang had a lumpectomy and went through chemotherapy. A single mother of two daughters who were nine and 13, at the time, Lang had just started to date T.G. Sheppard, a country music star in his own right. The couple hadn’t even begun to talk about marriage, so Lang thought this life-changing event would break the romance apart, but it brought them closer together. Sheppard went to every MRI with her, holding her hand and singing to her.

The song “Life Sentence” details Lang’s journey through a dark place known as cancer, but with defiant optimism she faces it—choosing to celebrate life rather than fearing death. Lang looks at cancer as a life sentence, giving her the opportunity to hit reset on her life and to appreciate things more, giving her more empathy for every person. She doesn’t take things as much for granted now as she did before, and appreciates the lessons she’s learned. The video for the song features real-life breast cancer survivors dubbed cancer thrivers. Sterile cold hospital interiors set against pictures of cancer survivors holding inspirational messages expresses Lang’s mantra. Lang minus her luscious locks of hair due to chemo, add another layer of bold unflinching honesty. The video is dedicated “in loving memory of my sweet friend Dame Olivia Newton- John.” John lost her battle with breast cancer in 2022.

Velton Lang, Conway Twitty and Kelly Lang

Partners in Rhyme, Spouse T.G. Sheppard
Lang describes working with her spouse T.G. Sheppard, a country music star in his own right, as incredible. Sheppard has had 21 number 1 hits. There is no competition between them. She asks him for advice. They have a solid friendship and marriage, and celebrate one another. She views opportunities to sing together as a real treat. They honor each other’s careers. Lang describes Sheppard as a wonderful human being, referring to the duo as partners in rhyme.

“Hopelessly Devoted to You” Friendship With Olivia Newton-John
Meeting Olivia Newton-John when Lang was six, while Newton-John was on tour with opening act Billy Joel, would not be the first time the stars’ paths would cross. Many years later Lang became friends with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. An invitation Gibb extended to Lang for an event in Florida would reunite Lang with Olivia Newton-John, and the two bonded because of their cancer situation—and a friendship was born. Super easy to talk with, loving and wickedly funny is how Lang characterized Newton-John, who wrote the foreword to Lang’s autobiography. Newton-John and Lang recorded a duet cover version of the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” The track is a symbolic triangle of friendship.

Autobiography I’m Not Going Anywhere, COVID-19 Pandemic
Lang’s autobiography came about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She claims she didn’t want to write the book but was coerced into doing it. With a lot of time on her hands, she started cleaning out the garage and found a lot of notes from back when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 18 years earlier. She didn’t know what to do with them and had forgotten that she had written them down, but they were in detail. A friend called her saying she had a weird dream that Lang had written a book, and it had helped people, and Lang wondered if it had anything to do with the notes she had found.

Using the cancer diagnosis as the starting point, Lang worked her way backwards through her musical career, the harsh stopping point at breast cancer and how she has learned to live with that happily and abundantly all these years later. She hopes her memoir provides hope and inspiration to the reader. The tome’s title comes from a song with the same name that Lang wrote many years earlier and before being diagnosed with cancer. The song was originally recorded by her husband T.G., appearing in the 2008 Burt Reynolds film, Deal. Ascension Hospitals picked up the song in 2021 for a national television campaign. The title of the book, I’m Not Going Anywhere, goes hand in hand with the song Sheppard and Crystal Gayle recorded.

Published during the pandemic, Lang has literally received thousands of messages from people all over the world saying that the book has helped them or a loved one going through a health crisis. Calling the book a fun easy read, one thing she’s proud of is the QR codes after every chapter with videos to back up every story, making it interactive.

Coffee Cups and Cocker Spaniels in Oil
T.G. bought Lang, whose brother is a trained artist, an oil painting kit when she was 33. A little coffee cup was the first thing she painted. T.G. wrote the iconic Folgers coffee jingle “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up,” and Lang thought the painting would make a nice gift for him. When she took the painting to be framed, the woman who was going to frame the art wanted to buy it from Lang.

Lang had finished a pilot about pets and was pitching it to OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s television network. The gentleman who was helping Lang pitch it suggested the best thing she could do was to paint Oprah’s cocker spaniel Sadie. Lang eventually acquiesced to the request. Oprah loved the painting but passed on the pilot. Lang still indulges her interest in painting but reserves the artistic endeavor for gifts or auctions.

God Whispering In Her Ear
Kelly Lang wrote her first song at six, and prefers singing to writing. She describes her creative process as God whispering in her ear, and relies more on this celestial intervention than making a dedicated time to write. She explored her relationship with Conway Twitty in the song “Goodbye Darlin’,” a tip of the hat to Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’,” as a tribute to Conway. She couldn’t find any paper or pencil, so she wrote the song on a napkin with lip liner while on the side of the interstate, recorded it the next day and gave it to Twitty’s family as a gift. When performing the song Lang felt both the presence of Twitty and her father.

Lang counts Lorrie Morgan as one of her biggest supporters. At one point, Lang was working at the department store chain Dillard’s, selling fragrances. Morgan encouraged Lang and paid for her photo shoot, clothes and getting her hair done for a television appearance. Lang wrote with Lorrie Morgan, for a whole year every week—in essence writing Morgan’s whole life story to music for the album I Walk Alone.

She refers to “The Killer,” a song written with T.G. Sheppard, Bobby Tomberlin and Jerry Lee Lewis, as her most fulfilling cut—when she got to go into the studio with Jerry Lee to record it.

Touching Hearts with Speaking Engagements
Lang is not seeking notoriety or fame through her speaking engagements, but rather an opportunity to touch hearts. She wants people to feel better about themselves and stay encouraged. Fame and fortune are fleeting and don’t help her at night. What does help Lang is beautiful heartfelt letters by people who heard her music and were affected or have read her book and said it was life altering.

Old Soul, Lang Puts Her Stamp on Vintage Hits
Lang likes to go back and find songs that are historically amazing. She fulfilled this desire with Old Soul and Old Soul II, a collection of her own versions of vintage hits that are still played today. “Missing You” by John Waite and “What’s Love Got to Do with It” made famous by Tina Turner, are songs that are unforgettable, and transport the listener to a happier time.

Gladys Knight is Lang’s all-time favorite singer. Lang covered Jim Weatherly’s “Midnight Train to Georgia,” made famous by Gladys Knight & the Pips, on the album Old Soul II. Lang has great respect and honor for Gladys Knight, acknowledging you can’t outdo her. Little Kelly Lang in Oklahoma would be bouncing off the walls!

“I Think It’s Jesus”
Lang has a strong faith and doesn’t know how anyone gets through life without believing in God. If she did not have a communication with Jesus, she would be so sad, disconnected and empty, but because she knows she’s not alone, Lang is not afraid of tragic stories in the news or the threat of war because this life on earth is not her permanent home.

How did the idea for “I Think It’s Jesus” come to you?
I recently took my daughter to see Brooks & Dunn, in Nashville. Their performance of “Red Dirt Road” and “Believe” moved me emotionally. As I looked around, I noticed that many of the audience members had tears in their eyes and had lumps in their throats. This experience made me wonder “What is that common thing we all feel? I have also had strange occurrences such as seeing consecutive numbers, finding random feathers and coins in unexpected places, and seeing red birds when I think of my late father. I believe that these things may all have a common thread. I like to think that it all stems back to a spiritual place, thus the title ‘I Think It’s Jesus.’”

Kelly Lang is the living definition of a true Renaissance woman. Singer, songwriter, producer, painter, comedian, author and speaker are roles she has embraced passionately.

What did you learn about yourself after these recent studio recordings?
This album has been a challenge to finish, due to some health issues of my friends that I rely on in the studio. Working through some of the obstacles that this has caused, I have learned never to take for granted the fact that I sing and write.

Which song of yours do you continue to include in almost every live show?
I always try to include in my set list a song I wrote called “I’m Not Going Anywhere.” As timing would have it, the song was featured in a national advertising campaign for Ascension Hospitals during the pandemic. As it aired, I received letters and messages from people expressing how the lyrics resonated with them. Connecting with people through my music is very important to me, and it now seems this has become my signature song.

16-year old Kelly Lang promo pic

How has your own battle with breast cancer informed your approach to music?
I recognize that every day is truly a gift. I sing in gratitude for the additional time God has granted me, in hopes that I can bring inspiration to someone newly diagnosed with an illness—by living my dream so boldly.

You’ve had songs covered by Ricky Skaggs, Lorrie Morgan, George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys and many others. Tell us about one of your songs and how the idea came to you.
I am honored to have written an entire album with and for Lorrie Morgan called I Walk Alone. She also has recently cut three of my songs on her upcoming album. My favorite that we wrote together is called “Hey, How Does It Feel.” We were just hanging out in the studio, asking each other how we were feeling, and the song erupted. It’s super silly how that sometimes works. Also, I wrote a song with my husband, T.G. Sheppard, and Bobby Tomberlin called “The Killer,” which Jerry Lee Lewis recorded. What a thrill to meet him and hear him sing my song in the studio.

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
My Dad was Conway Twitty’s road manager. Growing up around Conway Twitty, I was lucky enough to be able to listen to songs he had just written before they became hits. This sparked my interest in writing from a young age, and I began writing at the age of six.

Kelly Lang & husband T.G. Sheppard

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
My advice to other aspiring songwriters is to take the time to find a quiet space to allow ideas to come to you, and always make sure to record or write down the melody right away—so you don’t lose the idea.

Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?
Conway Twitty, Crystal Gayle, Gladys Knight, Elvis Presley, Donna Summer and Olivia Newton-John.

What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Captain Fantastic—Elton John (I won it in a drawing)
Any album by Conway Twitty
Imagination—Gladys Knight and the Pips
Anything Olivia Newton-John
Anything Elvis

What is the best advice someone has given you?
“Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you have to share it.”

Best advice you’d like to give your teenage self?
“Don’t stress out. It will all work out as God has designed to in the end.”

Tell us a “pinch me” moment when you thought, “Wow, this is really happening to me!”
One surreal moment was recording with Olivia Newton-John at the Palms Casino recording studio. We recorded “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” Another pinch-me moment was when I sang “Islands in the Stream” with Sir Barry Gibb at the induction of Kenny Rogers into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated? Social Media?

Interview by Merlin David

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