Dana Baitz is a Toronto-based popular musician and musicologist. Her musicological research focuses on her doctoral studies at York University, on the music of Prince. Dana's recording and performing career began in the early 1990s. She has performed in major cities throughout North America, and has appeared on 13 commercial album releases. Her music appears in 4 films and videos. Dana is classically-trained, with an ARCT degree in piano performance, a BA in classical composition, and doctoral music research . In 2001, she began supplementing her piano performances with her use of bass guitar.
Dana has been active in many branches of LGBT communities. As she has said – she’s "been in every letter!" Most of Dana’s music has focused on transgendered and transsexual experiences, making her one of North America’s foremost producers of "trans" popular music.
Dana’s first album, Not So Blue (1995), was released under her given name, before Dana transitioned. This album featured Ani DiFranco’s drummer Andy Stochansky, and other extremely talented musicians. The album was eclectic and artistic, receiving more critical acclaim than popular support.
After her debut album, Dana began transitioning and adopted a stronger feminist orientation. Dana’s 1998 Flower CD reflects this approach. Her recordings were broadcast multiple times on CBC's Zed Television program. These songs were also among the first in which Dana began to describe trans experiences. Dana’s band at the time (drums, piano/vocals, and sometimes bass) helped fuel the aggressive and percussive rock piano style Dana was becoming known for.
Following the release of Flower, Dana’s music became more experimental and adventurous, as heard in "Estrofemme" (1999) – an electronic collage of powerful female film characters. That same year, Dana released her Untitled EP; the compilation featured previously unreleased demos, as well as one song ("Little Black Echo") from her debut album. At this time, Dana started to make music with Ember Swift. They recorded together on a number of albums and shared a stage many times.
Dana moved to Liverpool England for one year, to record new material and begin grad school. Upon her return to Toronto, Dana contributed piano tracks and wrote songs on albums by Dan Bryk, Slav Simanic, and Dyniss. With a growing number of album credits and performing experience, Dana received a "TransPlanet" award for "Eminent Artist" from SOY Toronto. Her performances were broadcast multiple times on digital television channels. Dana also began doctoral studies on Prince’s music, at York University.
Around 2003, Dana began to move away from aggressive rock, towards soul music. Dana began performing on bass guitar, and her music incorporated drum loops, and steady laid-back grooves. Dana’s intentions became less focused on political struggles and were more personal. She continued to appear on rock albums including Skarlet O’Hara’s Picket White Fences.
Also at this time, Dana contributed musical scores to various independent movies, including Alec Butler’s second installment of The Misadventures of Pussy Boy, and later – Girl on Girl (a recipient of multiple awards) by Vancouver’s "Miss Nomer" collective. Dana’s own independent short video, Flat Simple Girls, appeared at queer film festivals including Toronto’s Inside/Out. This movie portrayed Dana’s musical activities in comparison to the artistic activities of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.
Since 2004, Dana’s music has continued to evolve, no longer fitting neatly into soul or rock genres. Her rewrite of The Kinks’ 1970 hit "Lola" retells the story of a man attracted to a trans woman in a bar, from the woman’s perspective. Stylistically the song returns to rock without earlier political overtones. In "A Simple Life," Dana shares wisdom she gained from living in a proscribed social position.
2005 brought increasingly widespread recognition of Dana's musical contributions. The National Library and Archives of Canada incorporated Dana's recordings into their holdings, and her music was prominently featured in a film documentary on San Francisco's Transcendence Gospel Choir, entitled The Believers. Dana's most recent performances have taken place outside of Toronto, in sites including New York City, Baltimore, Chicago, Michigan, and Philadelphia.
In May 2006, Dana married Shauna Lancit, a Toronto-based poet and English scholar. The same year, she released her CD Pretty Little Shape Shifter. Since then Dana's work focuses on musicology, rather than the public production of music.
Dana Baitz releases:
* - commercially available; other releases out
Dana appears on eight commercial releases by other artists:
|Skarlet O'Hara||Picket White Fences||(tba)||2003||piano, rhodes, organ, synth|
|Hasta Que Katy Verga (Panamanian)||Can-Pam Connection||- independent -||2002||bass playing|
|Ember Swift||Stiltwalking||Few’ll Ignite Sound||2002||piano & synth playing|
|Slav Simanic||Water of Life||Latter Rain Records||2000||Keyboard playing|
|Dainis||Electra Brown||independent||2000||piano playing, background vocals, some arrangement suggestions|
|Dan Bryk||Lovers Leap||Teenage USA Recordings / Scratchie Records||2000||composed "Big Things Like This"|
|Ember Swift||Permanent Marker||Few’ll Ignite Sound||1999||piano playing|
|Dan Bryk||Asshole||No! Discs||1995||violin playing|