When Baby Dee performs as an “opening act,” she defies the usual connotation of the tepid warm up to a better and bigger performance. Opening at Pop this year for the beloved Montreal band Swans – though she considers this “such an honour” – this singer, harpist, and former circus-performer could easily be the main act. Now promoting her eighth album, Books of Songs, Dee’s second Pop Montreal performance promises to be exceptional.
Like her fiery yet worn appearance, Dee’s music commands your full attention. Made up of a combination of harp, piano, and deep and fluttering vocals, Dee’s music is a layering of majestic sounds that inspires deep reflection. Her lyrics, though deceptively simple and lullaby-like, are honest and contemplative. From sing-song lines questing for love to those that bare all, Dee’s openheartedness in her music is moving. “There’s something very old-fashioned about the way I write music…I guess I just try to say little things that are, or were, true for a while,” Dee remarked in an email to The Daily. This modesty, which one senses not only in Dee’s interviews but in her performances, is the very intrigue of her art.
Dee’s familiarity with (and seeming liberation from) questions of belonging is her art’s second appeal. The Ohio-born transsexual has often been rejected for her differences in her life, though she’s never shied away from them. After deciding to embrace life permanently as a woman, Dee amped up her musical act. “It was like, if people are going to look at me all the time then I was going to give them something to look at, and I was going to look back at them, too,” she told National Public Radio. “There was an attitude there.”
This attitude is what redeems audiences through Dee’s art. “Every body has a right, the right to be the lover, to really be the beloved,” Dee wrote on her website. Welcoming her listeners with open arms and heart, Dee grants every one of us that right.