Perpetual Change: “Regifted Light” by Baby Dee — Review

| May 7, 2012
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Baby Dee’s newest release, Regifted Light, which was mentioned last month in our interview with her, is this month’s featured review. Overall, the project has a somewhat classical music feel to it. It might be considered by some to be very pretentious to say that Baby Dee is a musician who creates music for other musicians, although that’s really how I feel about Regifted Light. Anyone who appreciates thought provoking melodies and the craft work of layered musical textures will appreciate this mostly instrumental project.

The album was recorded at Baby Dee’s house in Cleveland using the Clockwerke mobile recording unit, produced and mixed by Andrew W.K., and engineered by Tom Gagen and Greg James. The finished project has a very “live” feel throughout.

Opening track Cowboys With Cowboy Hat Hair is a sort instrumental, with an almost processional feel to it’s arrangement. Baby Dee’s musicianship, especially as a pianist, is immediately evident.

Baby Dee

This is followed by the oddly titled Yapapipi which again is classically flavored, but this time accompanied by bassoon and Glockenspiel. The tune is quite melodic on first listen.

The project’s first vocal track (of which there are three on this 12 track CD) is the album’s title song, Regifted Light. While this too stays in a somewhat classical vein, Dee’s arrangement gives it a somewhat hymn-like quality that I wasn’t expecting to hear at first.

Baby Dee spent a good number of years as a church organist , so I’m assuming here that the more traditional hymns are her basis, and perhaps ever her inspiration in writing Regifted Light. The lyrics are as thought provoking as the music:

Regifted Light
I count the ages by the night
And never the day
For I cannot perceive the light
Except in gentle ways

The moon is my redeemer
The moon is my befriending Jesus…

His blessing glistens on my back and multiplies
It multiplies
As I regift it
To your eyes

From sun to moon to me
And to your eyes
Your eyes
With each regifting of the light
Its gentleness increases

The most striking of the vocal tracks is The Pie Song. The title had me thinking that I was going to hear something in a more comedic vein. In an operatic sense, I was correct. It’s powerful, demented, yet funny, and sort of reminds me of something Queen might have included in Night At The Opera. This is one of the projects outstanding tracks. While just reading Dee’s lyrics won’t provide the real impact of the song, you’ll get an idea of where she went with this tune:

The Pie Song
I want that pie
Give me that pie
Give that pie to me
I must have that pie
Pie, pie, pie
Pie, pie, pie
Or I will be so sad

Other outstanding tracks are the title cut, and the instrumentals that follow, all in a “cowboy” vein: Cowboys With Cowboy Hat Hair, and Cowboy Street.

This would be a good time to comment on Baby Dee’s vocals. Don’t expect anything girlish-Baby Dee is Baby Dee. She’s not trying to prove anything, nor present anything other than the message of her music. To some, this album would sound very down and somber. But you can’t approach Baby Dee’s music that way.

In the interview we posted last month, Dee made the comment that audiences need lyrics in order to be engaged with the music. I have to say that I begrudgingly agree with her, but for Dee, her lyrics are not just a form of window dressing — they’re like that small bit of unique spice that adds a special flavor to a favorite dish. Just enough to make instrumental music appealing to those not used to hearing it in the first place.

Most of what passes for music now is either very non-musical-techno, pop, barking band stuff — or it’s the corporate spawned, spoon fed, cookie cutter American Idolatry we’re all supposed to go nuts over. Musicians such a Baby Dee are the true artists working today. Along with the amazing group of players she’s assembled (Matthew Robinson, cello; Andrew W.K., pump organ, percussion; Mark Messing, tuba, sousaphone, bassoon; Jon Steinmeir, glockenspiel, danmo, medodica, percussion), Dee has managed to present a very rare moment in the overall musical landscape-thought provoking playing, along with lyrics that can range from meaningful to humorous.

While Regifted Light won’t appeal to everyone’s taste, it’s a must-have for those who fully appreciate the craftsmanship of a true musician.

More information on Baby Dee can be found on her website. Her music can be obtained from her site, as well as mainstream sources such as In the upcoming months, we will be posting reviews of a couple more Baby Dee projects.


There are several new YouTube videos from both Calpernia Addams ( and Beth Isbell ( In the case of Calpernia, she’s all over YouTube, with everything from live performance videos to cooking demonstrations. You have to sort through a ton of footage, but it’s very entertaining stuff. Beth Isbell continues to write and perform great new songs, both as a solo artist and as part of a band. Check both these ladies out.


Love Is A Four Letter Word, the fourth studio album by singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, shows the development that this artist has gone through over the last couple of years. In 2010, Mraz released We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, which went on to have a life of it’s own. Mraz was on the road for 22 months because of that one project’s success.

That period of time saw Mraz go on a songwriting binge. When he finally got into the studio, with producer Joe Chiccarelli, the resulting twelve cuts on Love Is A Four Letter Word show a maturity in both writing and arrangements. While we usually discuss dance material in this section of the column — and Mraz’s new project definitely isn’t a dance record — I feel that once again here is an artist who is an incredible writer and performer and should be appreciated by as many new fans as possible. Stand out cuts are The Freedom Song, Everything Is Sound (perhaps the best production moment), and the great story song Frank D. Fixer.

Mraz is also something of an activist, with involvement in several different organizations, including the True Colors Fund.

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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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