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After years of dithering, Indiana singer/songwriter Krista Detor finds her career's on the right track

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Krista Detor
8 p.m. Friday
the Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley
www.bluedoorokc.com
524-0738
$15

What an odd, strange trip it's been for singer/songwriter Krista Detor. An artist of growing stature who's already found a following in Europe, the 41-year-old spent much of her life pursuing everything but her calling.

"(Music) sort of felt like a ball and chain around my ankle," she said. "I did resist, but I always felt like whatever else I did " and I did a lot of other things " I was completely on the wrong road, making the wrong decisions, doing the wrong thing."

Detor's held many jobs: waitress, legal secretary, production assistant, bookkeeper, English teacher in South Korea and commercial real estate agent. She was doing the latter a decade ago when her birth parents discovered her, prompting Detor to rebuild her life from the ground up.

In the process, she rediscovered a childhood love of music, which she'd abandoned in a fit of teenage pique when her adoptive mother intervened as record labels began pursuing the songwriter, then 16.

That catalyzing experience is captured on Detor's ambitious fifth album, "Chocolate Paper Suites," comprised of five thematically linked three-song suites. One track recalls Suzanne Vega, with a piano-folk underpinning enriched by rich, supple instrumentation; swelling swaths of electric guitar; and Detor's sonorous, slightly husky vocals. Another song was inspired by a poem she wrote while working in real estate.

"I tend to have one of those silly fantastical imaginations, so all of a sudden ... I wanted out of that office," she said. "I was supposed to be fast-tracking it in commercial real estate, and I just hated everything about it. So the remainder of the poem essentially has me running down the stairs, throwing off the sensible shoes, running out into the rain and getting the hell out of there."

That's what she did, fleeing her job for Key West, Fla., where she lived with her husband. The couple opened a restaurant, but her spouse left her on the eve of its opening.

Raised by a conservative Lutheran clan, Detor suddenly found herself among characters straight out of Frank Capra's "You Can't Take It With You." She went from her adopted family's sole artistic oddball to just another of her biological family's free spirits.

"I got the better end of the deal. I got the discipline, the follow-through and the really solid sense of ethics. And I got the creative side from my biological parents," she said. "I think if the course of my life had been left to them, it all could've turned out much differently. You know, they sort of remember my birthday."

Detor ended up in Bloomington, waiting tables where one of her fellow servers had just become interim director of the Bloomington Playwrights Project. He browbeat her to agree to take reluctant part in a cabaret series. The loosely scripted, one-woman show helped her overcome stage fright.

"I had so much to think about, the music wasn't even a consideration," she said. The show formed the core of her first album, 2004's "A Dream in a Cornfield."

She received another big hand around the time of her second album, 2006's "Mudshow," when Carrie Newcomer took her out on tour. The string of shows helped Detor connect with a Dutch songwriter who suggested she send the album to a list of influentials he'd compiled.

The effort led to her first album deal, with a European label. It launched her onto the overseas charts. Flash-forward four years and two albums, and Detor's supporting "Chocolate Paper Suites" as things continue to improve.

"I'm on the upswing in the U.S.," she said. "I've never made so much money. That doesn't mean I'm making a fortune because, obviously, I'm a touring songwriter, but I feel like I'm doing the right thing." "Chris Parker

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