Bittersweet Reflections of K.D. Lang and Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011
Steve Jobs

A couple of days ago, a good friend sent me a text asking me if I would be interested in going to see K.D. Lang at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. It was one of those moments where I couldn’t say yes fast enough – thank you Steven!

In 1992, K.D.’s album Ingénue was released and I remember playing it over and over again in the record store I worked in, listening in awe to her unbelievable vocal range.  Her vocal talents are unmatched in any performer I have ever had the pleasure of watching live.

I’ll say it again – tonight’s performance was hands down the best vocal performance I have ever heard in my entire life.  It was magical.

K.D. LangSome people go through life with incredible talents that are drowned out or conditioned out by the world around them.  Others thrive in ways that almost seem superhuman.  That’s how it felt tonight – as if we were in the presence of a divine being.

K.D. delighted a packed theater with a full set of all-out from-the-heart performances and 2 encores, but the highlight was undoubtedly her mind-blowing rendition of Hallelujah.  The song itself is amazing and has been covered by some of the greatest musicians of our time.  But her incredible vocal range sent this song into another dimension and had me almost physically shaking it was so powerful.

She gave it to us tonight.

At the end of the show, we were filing out of the theater when I heard the news that Steve Jobs had passed away. It was jolting – as if I was going from a euphoric state to that of extreme sadness in an instant.

I remembered a thought I had while K.D. was on stage.  I imagined what the world would be like if she was no longer in it.  Not in a morbid, freaky way, but with a sense of acute awareness of the mortality we all live with.

Steve JobsAs she sang, I gave thanks for the opportunity to experience this stunning performance while she still walks among us.  One day, she will be gone, and people will only be able to remember her through the music she has recorded and through moments like the one I experienced tonight.

Similarly, Steve Jobs has gifted the world with some of the most innovative devices to ever be created, and these gifts continue to provide powerful experiences to people around the globe every day. I’m typing this on one of them now.

Steve knew that our time on Earth is precious. A reality he faced 7 years before his death when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He beat the odds for many years and saw the company he founded launch some of the most successful products in history.  This is his legacy, and it cannot be taken from him.

He delivered a poignant speech at Stanford University in 2005 that has one of the most direct appeals to follow your heart I’ve ever seen in a speech. The irony of a college dropout giving the commencement of one of the country’s top universities is a trip in and of itself. If you have never seen the speech, I highly encourage you to watch it.

Just after 9 minutes, he shares this nugget of wisdom:

…For the past 33 years, I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself ‘if today were the last day of my life, would I do what I’m about to do today?’  And whenever the answer is no too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. – Steve Jobs

We have within each of us the power to do amazing things in this world. We all have unique gifts that only we can give.

Today, I challenge you to ask yourself the question that Steve asked himself in the mirror every day. Show up every day and be fully present.  Share your unique gifts while you have a chance.  Don’t wait.  Now is all there is.

K.D. Lang and Steve Jobs chose to share their gifts with the world. What will you share?


Photos: Adelaide Now & AP


  • Reply Lisa Robbin Young October 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    What if we stopped making excuses and started making friends?
    What if we fully lived each moment of our lives “dropped in”?
    What if you’re sitting next to the person that has the very gift you need to make huge strides in your life, but you never said hello?
    What if you have the gift that can help millions, yet you never let your light shine?

    Yeah. That.

    Great post, Brandon. And wonderful to see you in Atlanta again. 🙂

    • Reply Brandon Sutton October 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      Thank you so much, Lisa.  I absolutely loved your ‘speak from the stage’ presence last week!  Your message clearly resonates with me.

      This post brought up a lot of emotion for me, and throughout the day I’ve found myself referring back to it as a reminder of how important each day is to each of us. 

      Here’s to letting our lights shine big and bright. 🙂

  • Reply Matt Gartland October 7, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Touching article my friend! I can really feel how K.D. Lang’s performance impacted you at a very deep level. Thanks for sharing the effects of this amazing experience.

    As with Jobs, his death has really stuck a strong cord with me. It’s a sad note to be sure, but not a devastated one. We should all be so grateful to have witnessed and benefitted from his visions, courage and creativity. His 2005 commencement speech (that you embedded) is an all-time favorite and force of influence; even more now.

    In all, thanks Brandon for sharing your emotions at this most vital of crossroads; extreme ecstasy and sadness.

    Now let’s all go forth and forever ask, WWSD (what would Steve do?)! 🙂

    • Reply Brandon Sutton October 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

      Thank you, Matt.  It really shook me to the core.  Yet another reminder why it’s vital to take the time and make room for myself in the midst of ‘busyness.’  Live music has a healing effect like nothing else I’ve experienced before. 

      And I love the question WWSD?  That’s awesome. 🙂 

      Have fun in Deutschland!

  • Reply Lj White October 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    and he was adopted out! what a life he had. I have an child from China whom I adopted 4 years ago! I can only dream right now about what she might become in this ever changing world and more and more opportunities for women! What ever happens, I am happy with my work as her mother and best friend! She’s my little Snow White! And we both love kd lang! Linda in Canada

    • Reply Brandon Sutton October 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm

      Very cool, Linda.  It sounds like you’ve given her a wonderful, supportive environment to grow into an amazing young lady. If you ever get a chance to hear K.D. live, go for it!  You’ll both be happy you did.

  • Reply Gator October 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Wow your posts have made me cry twice this week!  Love K.D. Lang can only begin to imagine the magic you experienced.  Thanks for sharing

    • Reply Brandon Sutton October 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you, Gator.  Yeah, they were pretty intense posts, back to back!  It was truly amazing to see her live.  Being in a small venue made it even more special. 

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