Perpetual Change — Baby Dee

| Apr 9, 2012
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I absolutely love it when I encounter a musician who almost defies categorization. Back in December, 2008, Perpetual Change presented a feature article on such a talent — Baby Dee.

At that time, her current CD release was Safe Inside The Day. While I wasn’t able to obtain an interview with her for that particular column, what was presented was a career overview, with a brief review of the current release.

This time around, Baby Dee has been gracious enough to take the time to submit to our arduous Perpetual Change interview process. She survived and no musical instruments were harmed during the interview.

By way of offering some brief background on Dee, let’s just say that she’s done practically every type of gig imaginable. She began her musical career as a street performer, was a church organist for a time, was part of the Bindelstiff Family Cirkus, and has toured extensively as both a solo artist and a backing musician for other performers. The list of people she has performed with includes Antony Hegarty of Antony And The Johnsons, Andrew WK, Current 93, Marc Almond, The Dresden Dolls, and as recently as 2010, Little Annie.

Along with the aforementioned Safe Inside The Day CD in 2008, Dee has four other “official” releases: Little Window (2001); Love’s Small Song (2002); A Book Of Song For Ann Marie (a 2010 reissue of a 2001 project released in book form with a bonus disc); and her most recent project, Regifted Light (2011), which is mostly an instrumental album.

Other releases include EPs Look What The Wind Blew In (2001, with a great picture of Dee on an enormous tricycle on the cover); Made For Love (2005); live albums Live In Turin (2005); Love Is Stronger Than Death (2008, Baby Dee with John Contreras); Baby Dee Goes To Amsterdam (2011); a compilation entitled The Robin’s Tiny Throat (2007); and The Robin’s Song (2008 recording featuring bird songs, originally released with the album Loves Small Song.)

Though Baby Dee was mentioned before in this column, I feel like this is the real introduction to this amazing, talented and beautifully eclectic artist. Perpetual Change and TGForum are proud to present multi-instrumentalist, and multi-talented Baby Dee to our readers.

TGForum: So far, the only album of yours that I’m familiar with is Safe Inside The Day. It has a very cabaret sound to it. It that a style that’s been a big influence as well?

Baby Dee: I’m not sure what cabaret is. I picture people in white face wearing derby hats and big eye makeup.

TGF: How did you start getting interested in playing harp? It seems like such a large, awkward instrument. Do you travel with the instrument? And, besides harp and piano, what else do you play?

BD: Almost everything I play is big and awkward. I would add expensive, fragile, and very heavy ( a DREADFUL combination.) I wrote a song about discovering the harp inside of an old upright piano that I witnessed being gleefully destroyed by a group of neighborhood music enthusiasts. The object was to get the piano to fit in a garbage can. They did a pretty thorough job of it until they came to the cast iron harp inside. It was beautiful and indestructible — a WONDERFUL combination! The song is called The Dance of Diminishing Possibilities. I also play organ and the accordion.

TGF: Your musical career has taken you from being a street performer to being a church organist. How much of this was planned? How much did you just happen to fall into?

BD: I’m not much of a planner. Actually, not one thing was planned. I just went ahead and did the things I wanted to do and somehow, kind of miraculously ended up with a semblance of a career.

TGF: Over the years, you’ve worked with a variety of other performers and acts, both live and in the studio. Quite an impressive resume. This is kind of a two part question, then: Are you still open to working as a supporting musician for someone else? And, have you ever considered putting your own band together?

BD: I’ve had my own band since 2007. I’m glad you ask that about playing in other peoples’ band. I find it kind of annoying that working as a player in the bands of my friends is looked on as something reprehensible. I so don’t get that.

I’m every bit as vain as the next hermaphrodite but there’s a kind of preening over one’s public image that I absolutely refuse to do. And it make me angry when people act as though it should be beneath my dignity to play accordion for Marc Almond! What’s up with that?

I’ve just finished recording an album with the marvelous Little Annie. Basically, she wrote lyrics and I mostly wrote the music. As Annie says, “We’re the best song writing team since Leopold and Loeb.” And when we tour it I will for the most part be simply her accompanist. I’m perfectly happy with that. How can that be a bad thing?

TGF: I’m fascinated with the cover of 2001’s EP Look What The Wind Blew In. How did you come up with the idea for that giant tricycle? Do you still have it?

BD: It’s rusting away in my garage in Cleveland. That thing was amazing. It began as a foggy notion about music that doesn’t begin and end — that it just arrives and departs. And then it grew from there into the high-rise trike with the harp. I was dirt poor at that point and jobless. I borrowed three thousand bucks from my mom (“You want $3,000 to do WHAT?”) and had it custom made by a wonderful genius of a man named George Bliss.

I’ve actually got three of them. There’s the original one in the picture that you’ve seen. Then I had a collapsible one that I could take on airplanes that was even taller and steered like a unicycle. And then I had a smaller one for riding around inside peoples’ houses like the cat in the hat. They’re all in my garage.

TGF: In 2006, you sort of left the road and moved back to your family home in Cleveland. First off, is that a very safe, secure place for you? Ever consider retiring from the road again?

BD: It’s very nice here. I never worried much about safety. Apart from a year in Edinburgh, which is a monumentally unsafe place. I’ve always lived without a great deal of caution. I don’t like being inhibited in that way.

Cleveland is obviously not a very fabulous place but I get my fill of fabulous places when I travel and I travel a great deal. I would like to travel less but still go places. A person can get tired of one night stands. I’ve always wanted to get a “residency.” It’s like a magic word — all pink and dreamy in my imagination.

And a few weeks ago, my dream came true. I’ve got a six month residency in Amsterdam for this coming winter. That’s going to be fun. But I know that when the six months are up, I’ll be really happy to come home to my house and my cats and my fire place and my own big sleepy bed!

TGF: Actually, you have already been playing a lot in Europe, haven’t you? First off, how hard is it to travel, given all the instruments that you play? Secondly, how accepting to your music and your presentation are European audiences compared to U. S. audiences?

BD: I keep a harp at my girlfriend’s house in Rotterdam. And later this year, I’m planning on buying a portable Hammond B3 to keep there.

People are very accepting all over. People are good. There’s nothing more true than that. It’s also true that there are assholes everywhere, but that’s less true and less important. Even the assholes are good underneath it all.

TGF: On Safe Inside The Day, I really enjoy your instrumentals A Christmas Jig For A Three Legged Cat, Flowers On The Tracks, and Bad Kidneys. Your newest project, Regifted Light, is mostly instrumental as well. By doing a largely instrumental project, do you feel that instrumental music can convey a certain emotional quality that lyric music can’t? How much instrumental only music do you perform live?

BD: I never planned on doing so much instrumental music. It’s just where my love has led me. I’m glad that some people enjoy it. I love playing it. I love writing it.

That being said, I very seldom do it live. When I toured Regifted Light with the guys who recorded it with me, Mark Messing, Jon Steinmeir, (both of Mucca Pazza), and Matthew Robinson, we did tons of instrumentals at shows. But that was unusual. Normally, it’s just way too hard. Audiences for the most part need to be engaged with lyrics.

TGF: How political are you?

BD: Sorry, I’m not very political.

TGF: What advice would you offer to any young musician/entertainer just starting out?

BD: Do what you love and keep doing what you love and never stop doing what you love.

TGF: In closing, is there anything you’d like to say?

BD: Nice chatting with you.

Visit Baby Dee’s website. She also has a Wikipedia entry, as well as several YouTube videos. Some of her albums are available through, as well as her web site. Look for an upcoming review of her newest projects to be posted soon.


Rainbow World Radio, in conjunction with The StoneWall Society Network, has announced a free promotion for GLBT musicians. To be included in their rotation, got to

According to Joe Mountman, of Rainbow World Radio, “When you complete this form, and a link back to one of the mentioned websites is verified, you will be added to the StoneWall Society GLBT artist directory. This is the largest directory of GLBT artists we have found on the Internet or elsewhere. To further add benefit, we have opened, which will also house the GLBT Artists Directory, selected reviews, and some Rainbow World Radio programs.”


Kwanza Jones has released a remix disc of her single Time To Go, from the album Supercharged. Jones is also regarded as an “. . . outspoken supporter of equality and empowerment causes. . . .”

Also, a remix disc by new artist NiRe’ AllDai, which features the single Inside Out from her recent CD album release is now available.

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Category: Music

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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