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Amanda MacKinnon Gaiman Palmer (born April 30, 1976), sometimes known as Amanda Fucking Palmer, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, author, and performance artist who was the lead vocalist, pianist, and lyricist of the duo The Dresden Dolls. She performs as a solo artist, and was also one-half of the duo Evelyn Evelyn, and the lead singer and songwriter of Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra.
With an interest in the performing arts, both in music and in theatre, Palmer spent time busking as a living statue called "The Eight Foot Bride" in Harvard Square, Cambridge; Edinburgh, Scotland; Australia (where she met Jason Webley); as well as many other locations. She refers to this line of work on The Dresden Dolls' self-titled CD, with the song "The Perfect Fit":
I can paint my face
And stand very, very still
It's not very practical
But it still pays the bills
I give out flowers
To curious strangers
who throw dollars at my feet.
The Dresden Dolls
Palmer performing with The Dresden Dolls at Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland, New Zealand, September 2006
At a Halloween party in 2000, Palmer met drummer Brian Viglione and afterwards they formed The Dresden Dolls. In an effort to expand the performance experience and interactivity, Palmer began inviting Lexington High School students to perform drama pieces at the Dresden Dolls' live shows. This evolved to The Dirty Business Brigade, a troupe of seasoned and new artists, performing at many gigs.
In 2006, The Dresden Dolls Companion was published, with words, music & artwork by Amanda Palmer. In it she has written a history of the album The Dresden Dolls and of the duo, as well as a partial autobiography. The book also contains the lyrics, sheet music, and notes on each song in the album, all written by Palmer, as well as a DVD with a 20-minute interview of Amanda about making the book.
July 2008 the Dresden Dolls released a second book, the Virginia Companion, a follow-up to The Dresden Dolls Companion, featuring the music and lyrics from the Yes, Virginia...(2006) and No, Virginia... (2008) albums, produced by Sean Slade and Paul Kolderie.
Palmer, as part of her solo career, returned to the A.R.T. in fall 2010 for a two-month run of Cabaret, starring as the Emcee.
Dresden Dolls reunions
The Dresden Dolls reunited for a tour in the United States in 2010, starting on Halloween in New York City and ending in San Francisco on New Year's Eve. They performed two shows in 2011, in Australia and Mexico, and seven shows, in Australia and New Zealand, in 2012. They performed shows in Kingston, New York, Boston, and Brooklyn in August 2016. In 2017, they performed a Halloween show in Washington, DC and 3 shows in November at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. They have recently announced (May 2018) two reunion shows for Halloween 2018 in the UK
In September 2007, Palmer collaborated with Jason Webley to release Evelyn Evelyn's debut EP Elephant Elephant via Jason's Eleven Records. Their full-length album, Evelyn Evelyn was released March 30, 2010, followed by a worldwide tour.
In July 2007, Palmer played three sold-out shows (in Boston, Hoboken, and NYC) in a new "with band" format. Her backing band was Boston alternative rock group Aberdeen City, who also opened along with Dixie Dirt. In August 2007, Palmer traveled to perform in the Spiegeltent and other venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, and also performed on BBC Two's The Edinburgh Show. She collaborated with Australian theater company, The Danger Ensemble; both again appeared at the Spiegeltent in Melbourne and at other venues around Australia in December 2007.
In June 2008, Palmer established her solo career with two well-received performances with the Boston Pops.
Her first solo studio album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, was released on September 16, 2008. Ben Folds produced and also played on the album. The title is a play on an expression used by fans during Twin Peaks original run, "Who killed Laura Palmer?" A companion book of photos of Palmer looking as if she were murdered was released in July 2009. Titled Who Killed Amanda Palmer a Collection of Photographic Evidence, it featured photography by Kyle Cassidy and stories by Neil Gaiman, as well as lyrics from the album.
"Strength Through Music," a track from Who Killed Amanda Palmer, indirectly references August Strindberg. The song contains an audio clip of a web cartoon called Strindberg and Helium; the cartoon almost exclusively quotes Strindberg's work.
Palmer began using the ukulele during a concert as a goof, but soon it became a regular part of her repertoire. Later, she recorded a full album with ukulele accompaniment: Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele.
On April 20, 2012, Palmer announced on her blog that she launched a new album pre-order on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter project was ultimately supported by 24,883 backers for a grand total of $1,192,793 -- at the time, the most funds ever raised for a musical project on Kickstarter. A widely reported and commented upon controversy emerged from the related tour when she asked for local musicians to volunteer to play with her for exposure, fun, beer, and hugs instead of money. She responded in the press and changed her policy to one of paying local musicians who volunteered to play with her on this tour.
On November 9, 2012, Palmer launched the first music video from Theatre is Evil for "Do it With a Rockstar" on The Flaming Lips' website. The video was co-created and directed by Wayne Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips. Subsequent videos were released for "The Killing Type" and "The Bed Song".
On March 3, 2015 Amanda began soliciting financial support on the crowdfunding platform Patreon.
Palmer spoke at the 2015 Hay Festival about the prospect of reconciling art and motherhood. The talk was recorded for the BBC Radio 4 series Four Thought and broadcast on June 21, 2015. Also in 2015, she served as a judge for The 14th Annual Independent Music Awards.
During the first months of 2016, she released the completely Patreon-funded song "Machete", and a David Bowie tribute EP, entitled Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute.
On February 20, 2019 Palmer released her new single "Voicemail for Jill," the latest track from her forthcoming (March 8, 2019) releasing solo album There Will Be No Intermission.
Duo with Jack Palmer
Amanda Palmer collaborated with her father, Jack Palmer, to record an album, "You Got Me Singing". The duo performed several concerts in July 2016 in support of the album.
Palmer used to reside in Boston, Massachusetts, with other artists in a cooperative named the Cloud Club.
She has identified as bisexual, telling afterellen.com in 2007: "I'm bisexual, but it's not the sort of thing I spent a lot of time thinking about," Palmer said. "I've slept with girls; I've slept with guys, so I guess that's what they call it! I'm not anti trying to use language to simplify our lives." Palmer has spoken out on feminist issues and about her open relationships, stating in one interview that "I've never been comfortable in a monogamous relationship in my life. I feel like I was built for open relationships just because of the way I function," Palmer explained. "It's not a reactive decision like, 'Hey I'm on the road, you're on the road, let's just find other people.' It was a fundamental building block of our relationship. We both like things this way."
Palmer has said that she once worked as a stripper under the name Berlin. She has stated that the song "Berlin" was written about this experience.
Neil Gaiman and Palmer confirmed their engagement in 2010 and Palmer hosted a flash mob wedding (not legally binding) for Gaiman's birthday in New Orleans later the same year. The couple legally married in a private ceremony in 2011. The wedding took place in the parlor of writers Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon. Palmer gave birth to the couple's son, Anthony "Ash", on September 16, 2015. She has had three abortions, and her song Voicemail for Jill is about these experiences.
Palmer practices meditation and wrote an article titled "Melody vs. Meditation" for the Buddhist publication Shambhala Sun, that described the struggle between songwriting and being able to clear the mind to meditate.
^Eichler, Jeremy (June 20, 2008). "All dolled up at the Pops - Palmer brings the edge but the fest needs more". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on June 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008. Last night in Symphony Hall, Amanda Palmer brought some spark and much-needed edge to the Boston Pops's EdgeFest. On her own terms, Palmer, in strong gravelly voice, gave a richly satisfying performance that had this crowd roaring far more than most in Symphony Hall. But even she couldn't overcome the deeper tensions that make the EdgeFest a strained format.
^"Dresden Doll Preps Solo Debut". spin.com music for life. spin.com. April 25, 2007. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007. The Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer chats with SPIN.com about her forthcoming solo effort.
^Palmer, Amanda (April 1, 2007). "here to dispel". Speculation: Solo Album Title. The Dresden Dolls. Retrieved 2007. .. i am recording the solo album....in nashville, at ben folds' studio, with ben, who is producing the record and playing on it.
^Artsy, Avishay. "Neutral Milk Hotel Album Transformed For Stage: NPR". Archived from the original on November 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010. 'I watch people proselytize this record all over the world, and it's like this secret brotherhood of awesome music that's never had any kind of big mainstream publicity,' Palmer says. 'It's just this sacred record that people connect through.'
^"Melody vs. Meditation". Shambhala Sun. original publisher was Shambhala Sun Foundation, but the article can be found, with permission, at theworsthorse.com/amandapalmer/amandapalmer.html. May 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-03-09.
^"Best Twitter Feed". Contests.thephoenix.com. LXXVI (16). The Phoenix Media/Communications Group. April 13, 2012. p. 24. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
^Spinner Staff; photo by Sarah Komar, WireImage (July 15, 2007). "Women Who Rock Right Now: No. 6". spinner.com. Retrieved 2007. Who: Amanda Palmer Birthplace: Lexington, Mass. Sound: Cabaret punk Palmer - one-half of Boston's Brechtian punk cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls - ain't no damsel in distress. The former street artist chokeholds her demons, teetering between sinister screeches and whimsical whispers of alcohol, self-mutilation and sexual exploration, while discordantly pummeling the piano - stocking-clad legs akimbo - in a sultry, sinful self-deprecation exorcism.
^Christopher Muther (November 1, 2006). "Boston's Stylish 25". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007. Dresden Dolls lead singer Amanda Palmer, quite literally, has a rockstar wardrobe.
^Mike Errico (December 2006). "Hottest Women of...Rock!". Blender.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007. Amanda Palmer - The pianist and singer of Brechtian Boston duo Dresden Dolls mashes up punk rock and cabaret, sings about transsexuals and explores the elaborate deceptions that alcoholics commit daily.
^Half Jack. "Amanda Palmer". bestuff.com. Archived from the original on 2008-01-05. Retrieved 2007. In the 2005 WFNX /Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll, Palmer won Best Female Vocalist.
^"The Dresden Dolls". ThoughtWorthy Media, Inc. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007. In the 2005 WFNX/Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll The Dresden Dolls won Best Local Act and Best Local Album. Amanda Palmer also won Best Female Vocalist.