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With seed money in tow, singer/songwriter K.C. Clifford blossoms with 'Orchid'



K.C. Clifford
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley

If she had not become a singer, what else would award-winning musician and songwriter K.C. Clifford do?

Her parents joke that their daughter came out of the womb singing, and since Clifford's singing debut at the age of 2, she has owned the stage wherever she performs. Most recently, she commanded audiences of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" and this weekend, she'll take over The Blue Door to release her fourth album, "Orchid."

Finally finding her niche by blending acoustic and folk music, Clifford thinks she and her 10- year career are just now turning a corner. Thanks to a kinship with Blue Door audiences and the venue's intimate setting, she decided to make her album-release concert a two-day event. The set list is different each night, and instead of her taking the stage in typical fashion " husband and guitar only " she will be backed by a full band to recreate the disc.

A self-proclaimed "music dork" from Oklahoma City, Clifford's use of common human experiences in her songwriting has helped her forge connections with "generous friends," without whom she wouldn't have had the money to plant and produce her new "Orchid." Without a penny, she booked Bell Labs Recording Studio in Norman and went about raising thousands of dollars in mere months, asking her fans to help. Clifford's listeners raised $10,000 in 30 days and have continued to raise more than $20,000, which is helping fund her tour and album promotion.

"It's incredible that in the year 2010, there are still people who consider themselves patrons of the arts in an oldschool kind of way," she said. "(It's) not just about putting a name on a banner, but about real people who have seen what I do and want to get behind it and want other people to made aware of it, so they give to it. So much was happening all at once."

While writing, recording and working on the record for more than a year, Clifford lost more than 100 pounds. Her lifelong struggle with her weight began when she was 8 and she started her first diet. By the time she was 20, she was diagnosed with bulimia. After treatment, Clifford gained weight into her 20s, topping off at 278 pounds twoand-a-half years ago. She then resolved to lose weight in a healthy way.

"For the first time in my life, because I had done the emotional work that was necessary, I could approach it for health," she said. "I had such crazy behaviors toward food. It is still a journey; in no way have I arrived. I'm still learning."

Taking experience from her struggle, Clifford has become an advocate at food banks across the country in recent years. Had she been told that she would one day share her difficult story on NBC's "The Biggest Loser," and that her career would surge because of her personal testimony, she said she would have "thrown up in her mouth."

"Before, I would have thought, 'Why can't I just write music that stands on its own?' I did not set out to lose 100 pounds to get a good press angle," she said. "I have been working really hard for a really long time. I have been dedicated to improving the excellence in my craft of songwriting, but I have also learned how to market myself."

With "Orchid," she hopes both fans and friends will appreciate the words, stories and music she pieced together.

"It's humbling writing songs that people want to listen to. It's funny that people come up and say, 'I think you wrote that song for me. How did you know that's myself?'" she said. "It's a weird job, but you get the opportunity to connect with people, because it's such a universal language." "LeighAnne Manwarren

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