- Transgender musicians
Transgender musicians have popularized songs that more specifically address their community's concerns as well as their own personal, political, social, and religious interests.
According to an
Internetarticle concerning these performers, their music bears a message, and they want to "entertain but also inform": "transgenders have their own culture and voice, and this is what many trans artists aim to share" [http://www.afterelton.com/music/2005/3/trans.html] .
Originally from Liverpool, Jenny Slater has played in various types of bands, duos, trios etc, performing in venues all over the country and on the continent since the age of 15. She has also appeared on local radio and regional television programmes in North West England as well as playing at the very first International Beatles Festival in Liverpool.
Jenny is also a post-op
transwomanwho transitioned nearly twenty years ago and, after overcoming the obvious hurdles along the way, got back on the road some years back. She played in various bands often taking on the role of lead vocals, then in recent years played covers up and down the country as a solo act.
Lately she has been focusing on writing/recording her own material and has recently released a CD Album entitled Zodiac, which is available via her website and digital downloads.
Lisa Jackson (Girl Friday)
Lisa Jackson, of Girl Friday, began her singing career imitating Blondie and singing in
Manhattannightclubs. The band's latest CD is "I Am AOK".
All the Pretty Horses
Minnesota's All the Pretty Horses consists of vocalist and lead guitarist Venus, who was inspired to become a musician by having seen David Bowieon " The Midnight Special" [http://www.afterelton.com/music/2005/3/trans.html] .
Lipstick Conspiracydebuted in 2003. A year later, the "San Francisco Bay Guardian" named this all-transwoman group the “Best Girl Band” in 2004, following the release of their first CD, "Don't Tell A Soul". The band consists of guitarists Marilyn Mitchell, Sarafina Maraschino, and Shawna Love; drummer Emme Yarwood; and bass player and keyboardist Tori Tait.
The band's name is meant, on one hand, to "embody a shtick that combines '60s mod style,
Nancy Drew, J. Edgar Hoover, or ‘ James Bondin a skirt,’" as Sarafina puts it, the word "conspiracy" suggesting “images of cat burglars, jewel thieves, spies, and the like, while ‘lipstick‘ softens them.” On the other hand, "there's a more personal dimension to the theme", as well: "Three of the band members are undercover agents. By day, they appear as men. By night, women. It's a secret they've managed to keep for years." [http://www.eastbayexpress.com/Issues/2005-10-12/news/feature_1.html]
Lipstick Conspiracy eschews the transgender-laden jargon that is typical of many transgender songs: their music, instead, is devoted to "conventional songs about falling in love and being jilted" [http://www.eastbayexpress.com/Issues/2005-10-12/news/feature_1.html] .
Buck Shot and Bebe Gunn
The musical drag duo, Buck Shot (
transmanAnderson Toone) and partner Bebe Gunn (Shana Scudder), are considered the Sonny and Cherof Americana country music[http://www.eastbayexpress.com/Issues/2005-10-12/news/feature_1.html] . Their music is inspired and influenced by Gospelas well as rockabilly, punk and country music [http://www.eastbayexpress.com/Issues/2005-10-12/news/feature_1.html] .
Engaging and humorous, these performers deliberately play up the
campyaspects of transsexualand transgenderlife. They were called the best of transgender performers in the East Bay Express: "...best of all, the honky-tonk husband-and-wife drag duo Buck Shot and Bebe Gunn, who play most of their songs in only one chord and deal with one theme exclusivelyndash they even cover Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man", changing the hook to "Stand by your trans/Give him all the T [testosterone] you can." While singing the line, Bebe mimes poking a gigantic needle into Bucky's ass. [http://www.eastbayexpress.com/Issues/2005-10-12/news/feature_1.html] .
Anderson Toone was known pre-transition as Annie Toone actor, singer, musician and drag king pioneer. As well as being a founding member of New York no-wave cult band The Bloods in the 80s, he penned the songs and co-starred in the first original drag king rock musical "Hillbillies On the Moon" with Elvis Herselvis in the 90s, was featured in "the drag king book" and is considered the grand daddy of drag kings. Before creating Bucky & Bebe he fronted the all drag king band Frankie Tenderloin & the Rent Boy$ in San Francisco.
Three-time Washington Area Music Award (Wammie) nominee Georgie Jessup is a Native American transsexual singer whose music often deals with the difficulties of the American Indian. A Native American
activist, she often plays at Native American powwows.
Her CD, "American Holocaust", is dedicated to her passionate interest in the plight of the American Indian. Her use of "
holocaust" in the title proved controversial.
Concerning the controversial CD, Jessup herself declares, "There's not a lot I can add to this song. A Holocaust really did take place in America! No one except Native People, and those whose liberation is bound up with theirs, really understands this. Indians are certainly not the only ones who suffered a Holocaust but it certainly is more poignant when it happens in a country that touts freedom and justice for ALL!" [http://www.georgiejessup.com/americanholocaust.htm]
As a transsexual, Jessup is also interested in creating music that deals with transsexual issues. One of her albums that deals with being transgender is "Woman in a Man's Suit".
Veronica Klaus [http://www.veronicaklaus.com/index.html] , a relative newcomer to the transgender music scene, has released her first album, "All I Want", which was nominated for a Gay and Lesbian American Music Award (GLAMA) for Best Recording by a Female Artist.
She has since released her second CD, "Live at the Lodge" [http://www.queermusicheritage.com/nov2005.html#] .
Jesse Xavier (Femme Messiah)
Transwoman Jessica Xavier is an activist for transsexual causes. As such, she is dedicated to organizing and politicizing transsexuals on a nationwide basis. She is also active in monitoring the media to expose transphobia [http://www.glaa.org/archive/2000/summersgillxavier0427.shtml] . She is also interested in improving transgender people's self-esteem, seeing their "shame and fear issues" as being "of paramount and continuing concern" [http://www.annelawrence.com/tsfeminism.html] . These feelings, she says, explain, in part, why the transgender community lacks an interest in social issues and has little political power.
However, she also blames the lack of the transsexual community's politicization on the nature of transgender people themselves: "Transgendered people are inwardly focused on our self-identities, producing a different group dynamic, one which has not helped to build a sense of cohesiveness within our new community. We transgendered are indeed very individualistic persons, with strong opinions and an inherent distrust of any authority and all rules, two key components of politics" [http://www.annelawrence.com/tsfeminism.html] .
Finally, she suggests that transgender people "shy away" from political issues because they fear that the demonstration of an interest in such concerns may imply that an individual has "too much male energy” and “smacks of patriarchal mindsets and male egos that are anathema to feminism" [http://www.annelawrence.com/tsfeminism.html] .
Her solution to these problems is to have transgender organizations "loosen up" and "unlearn male behaviors by teaching a new way of relating to one another in our groups." She argues that transgender people need to "drop. . . titles", and she urges them to "ditch the hierarchal thinking, lose the "Robert's Rulebook", loosen up that iron fist of control, stop obsessing about credentials, and start thinking about the future. Our future."
Jessica is also a transgender musician who, with her band, Femme Messiah, released her first CD, "Changeling", in 1999. In 2005, the band released "Orchids in the Arctic" [http://www.queermusicheritage.com/nov2005.html] .
She is the winner of a Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) Distinguished Achievement Award [http://www.glaa.org/archive/2000/summersgillxavier0427.shtml] .
Harisu is the stage name of Lee Kyung-eun, born on
February 17, 1975. A singer, actress and model from South Korea, she has become particularly well known in some Asian countries after being the first Korean entertainer to come out as being transsexual.
Ataru Nakamura is a Japanese
J-popsinger and songwriter notable as the first successful transsexual musician in Japan. She is signed to the popular and successful avex trax.
An exploration of emasculation, there are none so Black!! Mechanical Black (Composed of Hexa Dess, Melissa Stone and Miss Lina) are a Sydney based band that are currently working on a studio album - "REBORN" [http://www.mechanicalblack.com] Composed of asexual and bisexual members, Melissa is a recently transgendered woman and also plays with Dreadcircus.
Toronto-based musician and musicologist Dr. Dana Baitz began recording and performing in the early 1990s. Her music, some of which is heard in motion pictures and videos, focuses, in general, on transgender and transsexual experiences.
Baitz's debut album, "Not So Blue" (1995), which she released under her given name, before she transitioned, featured rock and roll music.
After she began her transition, her music began to reflect a more feminist perspective.
In 1998, Baitz released her "Flower" CD, which described her transgender and transsexual experiences. After "Flower", Baitz released "Estrofemme" (1999) and, at times, recorded and performed music with
A recipient of a TransPlanet award for imminent artist, Baitz later experimented with folk music instead of her more aggressive signature rock. She began to play the bass guitar, and her music included drum loops and steady, mellow grooves. She focused less on political struggles in favor of personal concerns, although she continued to appear on rock albums such as
Skarlet O'Hara's "Picket White Fences" even as her own music became more soulful.
Baitz contributed musical scores to such independent films as
Alec Butler's second installment of "The Misadventures of Pussy Boy" and, later, "Girl on Girl". Her own independent video, "Flat Simple Girls", appeared at queer film festivals.
Her rewrite of The Kinks' 1970 hit "Lola" retells the story of a man's attraction to a transwoman he meets in a bar from the transwoman's perspective.
In 2005, the National Library and Archives of Canada added Baitz's to their holdings, and her music was featured in a documentary concerning San Francisco's Transcendence Gospel Choir. Today, she performs in Toronto, New York City, Baltimore, Chicago, Michigan, and Philadelphia. In 2006, she wed Shauna Lancit, a Toronto-based poet and English scholar. The same year, she released her CD "Pretty Little Shape Shifter".
Dana Internationalis an Israeli transsexual pop singer of Yemenite origin who won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest for her song "Diva." She was the first Israeli artist to be interviewed on MTV. To date, she has released eight albums and three compilation albums.
Jayne County was born Vernoy Wayne Rogers on
July 13, 1946and adopted the name "Jayne County" as her stage name when she played in "Femme Fatale". County names Jackie Curtisas her biggest influence. She first performed at Atlanta, Georgia's Looking Glass Club. The first band in which she played was Queen Elizabeth, which debuted in 1972 at New York University. County has released the following albums: "The Electric Chairs", "Blatantly Offensive", "Storm the Gates of Heaven", "Man Enough To Be a Woman", "Things Your Mother Never Told You", "Rock 'n Roll Resurrection", "The Best of Jayne and the Electric Chairs", "Amerikan Cleopatra", "Betty Grable's Legs", "Goodness of Wet Dreams", "Rock 'n Roll Cleopatra", "Deviation", "Let Your Backbone Slip", "So New York", and numerous compilations.
Jordan L'Moore (vocals),Princess Kennedy (Lead) Peter Fogel (guitar and vocals), Swirly Rat, Jr. (bass), Stony Kurtis (drums), Duane Eduardo (guitar), Precious Moments (vocals), and Peggy L'Eggs (keyboard and vocals), are known, collectively, as Pepperspray. This band is described by the "San Francisco Examiner" as "a combination of The
Spice Girlsand The Sex Pistols." Pepperspray has opened for Cherand the Scissor Sisters.
In the 1970s, Canary Conn appeared regularly on the syndicated
Merv GriffinTelevision Show and often on Tom Snyder's NBC"Tomorrow" show. Before she became Canary Conn, Canary was Danny O'Connor. Her autobiography, "Canary" (1974) was a best seller. It tells the story of an aspiring young singer-songwriter, who first lived as a young man before living as a woman.
Competing against 10,000 others in a nationwide talent contest in the late 1960s, Danny won first prize, was named "Best Teenage Male Vocalist in America", and landed a recording contract with Capitol Records in the late 1960s. Judges included
Dick Clark, Quincy Jones, and Mason Williams.
Realizing that she was miserable as a man, Danny separated from her wife and decided to undergo the first stage of a sex-change operation. She had the procedure performed in
Tijuana, Mexico. Two years later, Canary could afford the second-stage procedure. However, living as both male and female and, at the same time, as neither, coupled with working many jobs to save money, and being alone nearly led her to commit suicide.
Bambi Lake tells her life's story in her book (co-written by Alvin Orloff, "The Unsinkable Bambi Lake" (1996). Her book includes an account of her evolution from Johnny Purcell into Bambi Lake. Ms. Lake currently resides in Northern California. Bambi Lake fan's website: http://www.geocities.com/timmikatannex/bambilake.htm
Fascinating Aidais a cabaret trio, consisting of (at various times) Adèle Anderson, Dillie Keane, Marilyn Cutts, Lizzie Richardson, Denise Wharmby] , Glenda Smith, Charlotte Nytzen, Issy van Randwyck and Liza Pulman, which has existed since the early 1980s and has "retired" twice during this time.
Anderson (the only transgender member), who occasionally performs alone, has appeared internationally in concerts, in theatrical plays, on the
British Broadcasting Corporation( BBC) television program "Gemma Masters". In addition, sometimes with Dillie Keane, Anderson writes lyrics to most of Fascinating Aida's songs and has contributed to the songs of several hit musicals, including "The Challenge" (Shaw Theatre) and "The Ten Commandments" (The Place).
Keane studied music at
Trinity College, Dublin, and acting at LAMDA. She joined Fascinating Aida with Marilyn Cutts and Lizzie Richardson in 1984. When Fascinating Aida disbanded, Keane returned to solo performing in "Single Again" (1991), for which performance she was nominated to receive a Perrier Award) and "Citizen Keane" (1992), both directed by Nica Burns. Keane has also been featured in many dramatic productions, including her part in " The Vagina Monologues". A lyricist, she has written several songs with Adele Anderson and others on her own. A veteran actress, Keane has also appeared in such television dramas as " Pie in the Sky" and "The Truth About Women".
Pulman appeared in "The Gondoliers" and "The Coffee H"ouse at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Her previous acting credits include her portrayal of Violet in the
London Palladium's production of " Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", and she starred opposite Phillip Schofieldand Russ Abbottin the British national tour of " Doctor Dolittle". She has also played Cathy in " Wuthering Heights" (European tour), Eurydice in the world premiere of Harrison Birtwhistle's "The Second Mrs. Kong" (Glyndebourne), and leading roles with Music Theatre London, the D'Oyly Carte and Carl Rosa Opera Companies. Her many cabaret performances include "Listen Up!" with composer and lyricist Jason Carr.
Transgenderist Vicki D’Salle, who identified with herself as a girl from a young age, is a pianist and vocalist with what she calls an androgynous voice. Although usually a solo performer, D’Salle also plays as part of a duet or a quartet at times, welcoming accompaniment during because, she says, it "takes the load off me and lets me relax" [http://www.vickidsalle.com/bio.htm] . She has played music since the age of five, specializing in "blues (some of the double-entendre variety), ballads, boogie woogie and New Orleans music" and has played "60's voodoo garage music. . . and country" as well. Her most recent CD is "My Heart's In New Orleans". Her regular venues includes the Universal Grill and Jacob's On The Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has performed the last five years at the annual Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. She does not intent to undergo sex-reassignment surgery, being content to "to 'stick it out there' and be affirmative about my gender situation...it makes me sad when I see sisters that are tormented by crossdressing- the shame, the guilt, the purging...relating to a different gender is something that I see as a positive thing- a balance."
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tina Benéz performs both in New York Cityand on the West Coast and occasionally tours abroad. Her most recent CD is "Love Me or Die", which was released by VMP/Rock Records. Thailand's radio host disc jockey Bee reported in "The Nation" that "Tina Benéz is a glamorous trans-Atlantic tranny, more Divine than RuPaul,” and Will Grega, author of "Gay Music Guide" and a " Billboard Magazine" contributor, says that "Tina Benéz is drag queen goddess, with pop smarts, chart savvy, unlimited ambition, and a fervent following all too willing to propel him/her to superstardom" [http://tinabenez.com/bio.html] .
Transman katastrophe (Rocco Kayiatos), who was a featured youth slam performer in the documentary "Poetic License"), was named "producer of the year" by Out Music Awards.
His struggle as a transman provides the basis for his music's presentations of the "larger issues of community, space, privilege, sex and self-worth", he says. [http://www.katastropherap.com/bio.html] .
His 2005 CD, "fault, lies, and faultlines", "features collaborations with. . . queer-positive lyricists, including spots by quaketrap's shaggy manatee, scream club, juba kalamka and jb raps of deep dickollective, aggrycyst, and romanteek's ruby valentine."
katastrophe is featured in the feature-length documentary "Pick up the Mic: The (R)evolution of Queer Hip Hop", which premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.
According to Brett Milano, author of "The Peecocks and Space Pussy lead the local gay-band scene", Space Pussy hails "from a rock tradition that would include Little Richard, the New York Dolls, and the Cramps in their glitter phase." [http://www.bostonphoenix.com/alt1/archive/music/reviews/08-15-96/PEECOCK_ROCK.html] .
Space Pussy consists of "front man" Ryan Landry, Goldberg, and Rikki Bates (drummer), "whose impending sex-change operation really freaked out his last band, the Incredible Casuals." Their songs include "Cherry Bomb" and "The Whole World's Turning Dyke, Thank God."
Deckard formed when Gen Masters (Jesus Jones) joined the three remaining members of Baby Chaos to record for Reprise Records. The band next recorded songs for Dreamworks Records before producing the album Dreams of Dynamite and Divinity, which their own Chris Gordon (vocals and guitar) produced for release in 2004. The band's original drummer, Davy Greenwood, left after concerns over his health, to be Gen Masters. The other members of Deckard are Grant McFarland (vocals and guitar) and Bobby Dunn (bass).
Transcendence Gospel Choir
The Transcendence Gospel Choir, which formed in 2001, describes itself as "a music ministry for the transgender community" which "performs gospel music in worship services, at pride events, and as outreach to the community itself" as a means of challenging "
misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance of diversity. . . WITHIN a place of faith" [http://www.tgchoir.org/] . The band's first album, "Whosoever Believes", won a 2004 Outmusic Award and was considered for a Grammy Award. This album contained such songs as “Jesus, Be A Fence Around Me,” “In The Sanctuary,” and “Divine Image” and such related scriptures as Isaiah 40:31 and Isaiah 40:2.
Jade Starr - DreadCircus
DREADCIRCUS [http://www.dreadcircus.com] Former Male Death Metal frontman who performed for 17 years in bands such as Despised, Running With Scissors, U-10 Cells [http://www.myspace.com/u10cells] , Peppertoe, DreadCircus & Cult Comedy Death Metal Drag Show FMC (Filthy Maggoty Cunt) [http://www.myspace.com/filthymaggotycunt] became Jade Starr in 2003 after battling secretly for many years with being transgender. Jade took 3 years away from the music industry to reinvent herself before plucking up the courage to once again perform music under the name DreadCircus. [http://www.myspace.com/dreadcircus]
Jade's music deals with self awareness, honesty, love and equality. Her vocals are distinct and original. In the short year back in the music scene she has earned much respect and a legion of fans through popular internet
MySpaceand has played many shows throughout Australia. She currently has 3 CDs available "Word & Music", "DC" & "Transition".Jade has performed with 4 different lineup in DreadCircus over 5 years, currently with lesbian lead guitarist Jet Starr as a duet. Plans to tour USA and a new CD "Gender Optimized 2.0" are to be expected of Starr in 2007. Influenced by bands such as mr bungle, muse band, jeff buckleyand jack johnsonacoustic music for the soul.
In January 2007 Jade enlisted the services of an entire new band to begin work on the new CD "Gender Optimized 2.0" due for release in November 2007. The DreadCircus lineup now consists of Lauren Allison (Drums, Percussion), Melissa Stone (Bass, Vocals) & Kali Simpson-Goff (Guitar, Piano & Vocals). Sadly Jade parted ways with lead guitarist Jet Starr in March 2007. Kali & Lauren are 2 lesbian females who also perform in "SHE IS" [http://www.myspace.com/sheistheband] whilst Melissa is a transgender girl who moved from QLD to Sydney to join DreadCircus.
There She Was
Named after the
Scritti Polittitrack 'Boom! There She Was', the band, formed in Birmingham, Englandin 1996, consists of Chris Turner (guitar and vocals), Katalina Giacomelli (guitar), Naelejhon Jaszczun (bass), and Sarah Corruair (drums). Sarah Corruair (the only transgender member), born Harry Sutcliffe, was the band's original crossdressing rhythm guitarist however due to continuous ridicule on the gigging circuit coinciding with Harry becoming Sarah full-time, she switched to drums after original drummer Chris Smith left the band to join fellow Birminghamband 'Rachell'. In more recent times, Sarah has come out from behind her drum closet and plays guitar in There She Was's acoustic sets.
Dallas/Marie is the D.I.Y. country-punk folk singer from Michigan. She started singing in the bands The F.U.C.T. and WiseUpJanet around 2003, but soon after 2005 she started signing alone. In January 2005 she was signed to DeadWait Records and released two full length albums (27Remastered and In Case Yout Haven't Heard) under the name VanessaMarie. In 2007 she teamed up with Brandon "Like The Bird" Crane (Guitar), Matthew M. Moakes (Bass), 'Silent' Robb (Producer), and xBrentx (Toboggan) to form VanessaMarie and the Boys and recorded the album 'Your Last and Final Mixtape...". It was recorded at The Doll House in Midland Michigan and was released in Canada at the Toronto Pride Fest. Soon after the album was taken out of circulation, and has now been re-released with some songs removed. That summer 'Autoshow 1963' was released and was the first album under her new name Dallas/Marie. In December of 2008 she released "Opening Your Mouth Once Again" and her new album "A Young Patriot's New Anthem" will be released this summer.
She is also a member of the following bands and side projects: Captn. Oats, Princess Die, Tookey Clothespyn, and Deer Sweater.
Other transgender musicians
Other transgender musicians include:
* Haa-Lacka Binttii (
Virgin Prunes, Princess Tinymeat)
* Anna-Varney Cantodea (
Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows)
* Storm Florez
* Jendeen Forberg (All The Pretty Horses, Harsh Reality)
* Actor Slash Model
* Imperial Drag
* Llewyn Máire (kAbbage, Sardonik Grin, Try My Cabbage)
* Angela Motter
* Nadia Almada
* Nessie & Her Beard
* Grae Phillips
* Mari Joni Song
* Ryu Na In
* Tempest (All The Pretty Horses, Harsh Reality, Apocalypse Theater)
* Venus Flytrap
Alexander James Adams
Although TransOwl Radio [http://www.live365.com/stations/transowl] and Outlet Radio [http://www.outletradio.com/tparty.htm] do not play transgender music exclusively, both regularly feature transgender news, commentaries, interviews, and guests and occasionally play music by transgender bands.
List of transgender-related topics
List of transgender people
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.