By Eryn Brothers, Staff Writer
Continuing Bi Visibility Week at Country Queer, we present Part II of our favorite bi and pan artists on the country/Americana/folk spectrum. If you missed Part I, get over there now. (Side note: any theories about why there are so many more out bi/pan women than men? We’ve got some guesses.)
Crystal Bowersox, of American Idol fame, has got a lot on her mind. With her 90’s songwriter vibes and penchant for pop structure, her time out of the spotlight has been spent harvesting all of her talents. From working on an upcoming album, “Hitchhiker,” to a rock autobiography, “Trauma Queen,” to the socially-conscious single “Courage to Be Kind,” Crystal Bowersox is ready to remind us why we listened to her in the first place.
Cheryl Deséree wraps her bebop rock-a-billy looks and unique storytelling in a variety of swing sounds. Deseree really loves dipping her toes on the jazzy side of country. It also helps that she’s worked with Texas greats Dale Watson and Ray Benson to sharpen those Western Swing chops. Deseree culls from her Samoan heritage, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, and, of course, being bi.
If you haven’t heard of Phoebe Bridgers yet, we’re concerned – you really do need to get out more. (Don’t we all?) Bridgers is everyone’s favorite bummer kid, with brutal songwriting and passive delivery. Trained in jazz vocals and has a strong grip on folk imagery and stylings, she’s partnered with the queerest sad kids (Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, Conor Oberst, 1975, Hayley Williams) and has a discography of impressive breadth for 26. If you were an indie goth kid in high school (like I was) you would have desperately wanted to be Phoebe’s best friend (like I still do.)
Legend. She started her own record label in 1989 at the age of 19, meaning she’s had complete creative control over her own work from the very start. She came out as bisexual in her twenties – not exactly de rigeur for the 90’s. Ani is definitely folk-centric, but to use her own words: “Folk music is not an acoustic guitar – that’s not where the heart of it is. I use the word ‘folk’ in reference to punk music and rap music. It’s an attitude, it’s an awareness of one’s heritage, and it’s a community. It’s subcorporate music that gives voice to different communities and their struggle against authority.”
If you think coming out as bi in the 90s would have been rough, imagine doing it in the 50s. Her reputation may be overshadowed by the towering figure of her half-brother Pete, but Peggy has been arguably just as important: among other accomplishments, she was a key figure in introducing American folk music to the UK. The daughter of Charles Seeger, pioneering musicologist, and Ruth Porter Crawford, the first woman to receive a Guggenheim fellowship, Peggy is an integral member of the Seeger dynasty that has made its business the preservation and extension of the American folk tradition. Peggy has recorded children’s songs, traditional ballads, mountain airs, and more, and has been very openly bisexual all the while. (And at 85, she’s still going strong!)