Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

WELCOME TO THE WEIRD WORLD OF BABY DEE; Everything in the Life of the Transsexual Singer Has Been Extraordinary -- So a Candlelit Gig with the Elysian Quartet in a Spitalfields Church Is Par for the Course; SOUND CHECK

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

WELCOME TO THE WEIRD WORLD OF BABY DEE; Everything in the Life of the Transsexual Singer Has Been Extraordinary -- So a Candlelit Gig with the Elysian Quartet in a Spitalfields Church Is Par for the Course; SOUND CHECK

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smyth

BABY DEE's journey from A (working-class Irish Catholic childhood in Cleveland, Ohio) to B (prestigious commission to perform as part of the Frieze Art Fair's music strand this autumn), has taken in every other letter of the alphabet along the way. Now 57, this tall, broad redhead has lived through probably the most extraordinary back story in music.

"Some people know what they want to do and do it from the get-go. For others it's this mad, revolting comic dance," she tells me in her heavy American drawl, hysterical laughter never far away. "I picture somebody trying to dance with their pants around their ankles. That's what my progress has been like."

There have been highbrow stints as a young painter and a trainee conductor, and a decade as an organist in a Catholic church in the South Bronx. She has also been a busker in a bear costume, playing the harp from atop a giant tricycle, and a comic performance artist, gracing Coney Island freak shows in her guise as "The Bilateral Hermaphrodite". In more recent years, she was a tree surgeon in her home town, writing music by night until she dropped a huge tree on a lady's house and was forced to embark on yet another career.

And let's not forget the sex change, which came at the end of the Eighties and put an end to her work in the church. "I've had a crazy life but let's not go into that. Everybody knows about that," she laughs, gabbling away about everything from Harpo Marx to Gregorian chant with a glee that is completely infectious. "Gregorian chanting blew my mind. It was like the bones of music to me and I like bones. I studied anatomy." Who knows how she found the time.

She first came to the attention of contemporary music fans about a decade ago, when she emerged quietly as an extreme outsider artist. Between treefelling duties she recorded lo-fi harp, piano and accordion ballads in her Cleveland home and sent them to her friend Antony Hegarty, the transgender singer of Mercury Prize winners Antony and the Johnsons.

She hoped Antony would sing her songs but instead he encouraged her to release them herself. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.