Dana Baitz is a Toronto-based musician and musicologist. Her musicological research is conducted at York University in Toronto, where she is completing a doctoral dissertation on the music of Prince (and related topics). Dana’s recording and performing career began in the early 1990s, comprising appearances on multiple albums, films and other media. Her musical and academic work have both frequently explored issues of identity, sexuality and citizenship. Dana’s debut album, Not So Blue, reveals an eclectic and experimental approach to popular music and spans a wide range of musical genres. After the release of her debut album, Dana incorporated a stronger feminist orientation into her music. Her 1998 Flower CD reflects this approach. Songs from this album were broadcast multiple times on various television programs. The Flower songs were also among the first in which Dana began to openly describe trans experiences.
Performing at this time with an energetic trio helped fuel the percussive and assertive rock piano style Dana was becoming known for. Following the release of Flower, Dana’s music returned to an experimental and adventurous approach, as heard in “Estrofemme” (1999) – an electronic collage of powerful female film characters. At this time, Dana started to collaborate with other songwriters, making guest appearances on various artists’ albums. In 2000, Dana spent a year in Liverpool, England recording new material and beginning graduate studies in musicology. With a growing number of album credits and performing experience, Dana received a “TransPlanet” award for “Eminent Artist” from SOY Toronto. Dana began doctoral studies on Prince’s music, at York University. In the following years, Dana began to move away from aggressive rock, towards soul music. As she began performing on bass guitar and incorporating steadier, more laid-back grooves, Dana’s focus became less political and more personal in nature. Also at this time, Dana contributed musical scores to various independent movies.
Dana’s own independent short video, Flat Simple Girls, appeared at queer film festivals including the Inside/Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival of Toronto. Dana’s musical output has received increased support since the early-2000s. Significant attention was given to her fifth album (third LP), Pretty Little Shape Shifter, which features a rewrite of The Kinks’ 1970 hit “Lola”. Here, Dana retells the story of a man attracted to a trans woman in a bar, from the woman’s perspective. Also on this album, Dana’s adapts a vocal recording of “Ave Maria” made in 1902 by Alessandro Moreschi, the “last castrato,” to create a duet relating the experiences of modern trans people to those of a turn-of-the-century castrato. Since then, Dana has focused her efforts on musicology, rather than the public production of music. Dana married Shauna in 2006; the couple celebrated the birth of their first child in 2009.