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| Jun 15, 2009
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This month Pamela DeGroff profiles a talented transman vocalist from the San Francisco area who is making a mark for himself in the dance and hip hop worlds. Joshua Klipp is his name and he has released two CDs since 2006. One of his songs is a mix of his current male voice singing with an old recording of his female voice. Read more about Joshua Klipp in this edition of Perpetual Change.

Joshua Klipp

The transgender music community is starting to become an entity unto itself. Like we didn’t already know that, but what I mean by that statement is that while trans musicians aren’t necessarily ready to take over the music world by sheer force of numbers, the community’s presence is incrementally increasing. It’s like the tortoise part of the old children’s fable; trans musicians are slowly, steadily winning not only a wider audience, but are also gaining some major industry recognition.

When you look at musical output from the entire GLBT family/spectrum, there’s a lot to choose from. Gays are well represented in practically every genre’; lesbians seem to have developed some kind of ubergene for music, especially in the singer/songwriter category; and trannies are…well, becoming diversified enough to be considered a sub-culture within a sub-culture.

To break it down even further, within the transgender music community, FtMs, or transmen, are beginning to make a significant dent on everyone’s consciousness. Granted, their numbers may not be great, but their contributions certainly are. Over the years, some very notable transmen have been featured in this column. Ethan St. Pierre (featured in March,), TransFM radio guru; hip-hop artist Katastrophe (September, ’04); and members of the New York City based band The Shondes (May, ’07), are all making names for themselves in their chosen fields.

Internationally, Lucas Silveira, front man of the Canadian band The Cliks (August, ’08) has been proud to speak up about who he is during various television appearances, and while on tour.

Now, we can add the name of Joshua Klipp to this small but influential group of guys. Joshua hails originally from the Midwest (Michigan and Wisconsin), but now lives in California. He has been involved with music since childhood, but shied away from most formal training. “I appreciated learning the basics,” he said, “…but didn’t like that every instructor wanted to turn me into an opera singer.”

Joshua with his dancers.

Musically, he has worked with jazz and hip-hop, as well as becoming a respected dancer. He has two previous releases, Patience (2006) and Won’t Stop Now (2007). He is currently working on new material, as well as co-producing a project with his writing partner Kristopher.

One rather unique track that Joshua is known for is his song “Little Girl.” This song was recorded using an older track featuring his former female voice. Joshua, the male vocalist, is essentially doing a duet with his past, female gender.

“The song is incredibly novel,” Joshua said. “It’s message is incredibly universal. It’s a song about hitting rock bottom, then finding a way to pull yourself out of it, mostly by recognizing and acknowledging your own beautiful self worth.

“I decided to do it only after I’d transitioned,” Joshua continued. “I think it was a need for catharsis. Letting go of my old voice had been an extremely difficult decision for me.” Hearing the old female voice mixed with the newer male for the first time was also an experience. “I cried for 20 minutes nonstop,” Joshua said of the experience.

For an instrumentalist to transition, the performer’s “chops,” or abilities, aren’t affected. The human voice is a different story though, especially for a transman after hormone therapy.

“It’s a lot different than it was before,” Joshua said. “I do vocal exercises nearly every day…always working on strength, technique, and flexibility. I’ve also had to let go of a lot. The reality is I don’t have the skill I had with my earlier voice. I haven’t had a lifetime to learn on this new instrument…but it’s a beautiful voice, and it’s still me. So like anything, I’m just learning to love it, use it, and relax with it.”

Joshua is also quite involved with the hip-hop/dance world, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. As somewhat of a local music celebrity, and as someone with a strong Internet presence, Joshua still maintains strong ties to the world of dance, but he feel his vocal ability is his best attribute.

“Singing is definitely my first love,” he said. “I’ve been singing pretty much since the day i was born. This is why it was so hard to make the decision to transition. I knew I’d have to let go of my voice and have faith it would be okay. I started dancing as a way to work out and simultaneously physically express…dancing was a great way to combine physical activity and artistic expression. I love it, but singing will always be my first great artistic love.”

In closing, Joshua wants to offer two bits of advice to other artists, in any genre: “#1…if your artistic expression comes from a place of authenticity, you will feel fulfilled putting it out into the world,” he said. “And #2…audiences have an innate sense of what is real-the more real you are, the more successful you will likely be as an artist. Be as authentic as possible.”

Check out Joshua’s MySpace page. His personal webpage can be found at

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Category: All TGForum Posts, Music, Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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