Performance artist, songwriter, classically trained harpist, circus sideshow veteran, and transgender street legend Baby Dee
was born in 1953 in Cleveland, OH. She spent ten years as music director and organist for a Catholic church in the Bronx before joining the circus as the bilateral hermaphrodite at Coney Island. This landed her a gig as the bandleader for performance art group the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and a tour with the Kamikaze Freak Show in Europe. After moving back to New York City, she became a fixture in lower Manhattan with a street act on a high-rise tricycle with a concert harp. She recorded her first record, Little Window
, on the Durtro label in 2000, a four-track EP in 2001, and her second full-length, the double-disc Love's Small Song
, in 2002. Dee
returned to Ohio during the latter record's recording, taking vows as a novitiate of the Little Sisters of Crabby Doom (a Cleveland-based order dedicated to the care of smelly old men), vows that she has since forsaken. For her third full-length recording, Dee
recruited a typically eclectic army of fellow musicians, including Will Oldham
, Andrew W.K.
, Robbie Lee
, Max Moston
(Antony and the Johnsons
), Bill Breeze
), John Contreras
), James Lo
), and Lia Kessel. The resulting Safe Inside the Day
arrived in January 2008 on Drag City Records. In 2010, Dee
released A Book of Songs for Anne Marie
, a lovingly detailed and orchestrated collection of harp and piano-based ballads. It was followed in 2011 by the Andrew W.K.
-produced Regifted Light, which followed a similar course as its predecessor, though with a greater emphasis on instrumentals.