Happy Birthday to today's Awesome Woman of the Day, k.d. lang, born Kathryn Dawn Lang, November 2, 1951, in Edmonton (or Consort? Found two different accounts), Alberta, Canada. Lang is well-known today as a silken-voiced balladeer, thanks probably to her early "Crying" duet with Roy Orbison http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-EiKPrAOHA but she was known before that in smaller circles as a cowpunk alt-country act, before there really even was such a thing as alt-country.
Which is why I think she's awesome: lots of supertalented people never get the kind of success k.d. lang found (and worked for and deserved), so it was incredibly brave of her to come out as a lesbian AND a vegan while making her living as a mainstream country artist. Twenty years later, I think only one other country artist has come out, and I don't think any of them are out as vegans.
In addition to displaying awesome bravery, Lang is a human rights activist and an animal rights activist. For more biographical details, see, e.g.,
http://www.askmen.com/celebs/women/singer_150/190_kd_lang.html (cheese warning)