Country singer/songwriter Lori Crandall: Being lesbian and leaving the Mormon church
Q: When did you decide to become a singer?
A: When I was about three, I sang for the first time, and I knew I had an amazing voice. I never “decided” to become a singer. It was simply who I was and what was very obviously a gift. However, as time has gone on, I’ve learned that being a singer isn’t just about the physical ability to sing. You have to be able to be passionate about what you are singing about and have the emotional capacity to be vulnerable and really allow yourself to connect with people. You have to be prepared for the financial aspect of it, the travel, the celebrity – all of it and that takes time.
Q: Was country always your primary music of choice?
A: No, I love pop as well; however, my voice naturally lends itself to country. It’s funny because if I had to speak in an accent other than Western American, I can do an amazing Scottish accent. I lived there for 1.5 years, and I picked it up so easily. Now having lived in New Zealand for almost 11 years, I couldn’t speak that accent if you paid me. So, naturally I sing country, but also love a good pop song.
Q: Growing up, what vocalists influenced you the most?
A: I was fortunate enough to be raised in the ’70s with all those wonderful variety shows. So weekly I got to hear Sonny and Cher, the Mandrell Sisters, The Muppets and all the celebs on that show, Carol Burnett, Karen Carpenter, then later, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and so forth. Inherantly I understood the power and intonation behind their voices as I could do the same thing.
Q: Where were you born, and where did you grow up? Were your parents supportive of your musical career?
A: I was born in Boise, Idaho and immediately given up for adoption. I was adopted a couple of days later and was raised in a Mormon family in Boise. My parents are not musicians and while at times appreciating me singing, they did not seem interested in helping me create any kind of a career with it. I’ve really begun getting serious about my music career since living in NZ and recording my music. I had to get away from the Mormon church before I could do this as Mormon tell the women to get married, stay home, raise families, and put yourself on the back burner. That doesn’t work for me. I had to “unlearn” that doctrine before I could go forward with my personal aspirations.
Q: Did you receive any formal training to become a singer? How did you learn?
A: I had an amazing choir teacher through all three years of junior high and high school. She taught me music theory and harmonies, and touring and just about all aspects of the vocation. Also, just listening to your favorite singer and mimicking them is a great way to learn the ropes. I also took formal vocal lessons by Ms. McClay in Auckland. She taught me how to use my muscles to support my vocal chords to save myself vocal strain. That was so powerful. I’d never been taught that before.
Q: “I’ve Had to Learn” is your current radio single. The song handles the sensitive topic of intolerance towards gays. How personal are those lyrics to you?
A: I wrote those lyrics as I’ve been bullied and abandoned by several members of my family and certainly the Mormon church for being a lesbian. I’ve been the “White Elephant” in the room and my aunt has to remove “The Proclamation of the Family” from her wall when I come over as it is so offensive to me as it states that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman, and the man is to provide and the woman is to raise children. It’s as if there is absolutely no other way to live than that one single way. It’s very offensive to me. My dad is not supportive of me whatsoever and my relationship with my mother was severely damaged years ago, having to say goodbye to all of them has at at times been more than I can bear. But “I’ve Had to Learn” just how to live and breathe again without them in my life and to live my truth regardless if they want to be a part of me or not. I’m to the point that I refuse to accept abuse in my life and if that is what I’m forced to experience with them; I choose to not be with them.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with the Mormon church? Why did you leave it?
A: I am as anti-Mormon as a person could be. I was lied to by them and deliberately betrayed when I dared question their history and doctrine. I gave 24 years of my life to them and even gave 1.5 years of unpaid 60 hours a week “service” to them in my early 20’s only to be called an “apostate” and watch every single one of my family members and almost all my friends treat me like filty trash because I dared break from the pack and really take an honest look at the church. I had given so much of my time and heart to it that to find out that I’d been deliberately used and lied to makes me furious; to see how entrenched in it my family is just breaks my heart. I’ve had to emotionally accept that they have a right to believe what they want although the fact that they choose the church over family is not lost on me. It’s taken me years to process their choices, the betrayal, and I don’t know that we will ever have a relationship again. It is a very hostile environment when I go home so I’ve stopped going home. So, I see the Mormon church as a destructive cult who is happy to destroy families in an effort to keep their tithing money coming in.
Being gay in the church is not acceptable to them. They regard it as a sin, just as they do having sex before marriage, but funny thing is – I’m talking to you today as a product of two people who had sex before marriage so am I supposed to view myself as coming from something evil and sinful? Hardly, so I refuse to be a part of an organization that sees my lesbianism and my very existence as something other than wonderful, empowering and awe-inspiring. Who wants to go to a church and come away feeling like an utter bain on society and spend the rest of your life trying to make amends for something you have no control over? Not me.
Official Site: http://loricrandall.com