As an avowed feminist with an eccentric stage personality, Amanda Palmer became a prominent musical figure as the lead singer of Dresden Dolls before embarking on an at times controversial solo career that turned her ... Read more »
As an avowed feminist with an eccentric stage personality, Amanda Palmer became a prominent musical figure as the lead singer of Dresden Dolls before embarking on an at times controversial solo career that turned her into a somewhat divisive figure, alternately lauded for her artistic freedom and mocked for her sometimes pretentious tendencies. Palmer was born on April 30, 1976 in New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital. She grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, where she became involved in the drama department during high school. Her penchant for dramatic flair continued with her enrollment in Wesleyan University, where she devoted some time performing in street theater. Interested in combining music and theater, Palmer partnered with drummer Brian Viglione to form Dresden Dolls, a musical duo she described as "Brechtian punk cabaret." They released their debut album, a collection of live songs and demos called A Is for Accident, in 2003 and subsequently released two more albums and another compilation until the duo went on hiatus in 2008. In 2007, Palmer began developing her solo career and also formed another musical duo with experimental folk musician Jason Webley called Evelyn Evelyn. Palmer and Webley began weaving an elaborate story behind their act, taking on the persona of conjoined twins "Evelyn and Evelyn Neville." That year, Evelyn Evelyn compiled their first EP titled Elephant Elephant, while Palmer made her solo debut with the ukulele-drenched Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Over the next few years, Palmer released Evelyn Evelyn's debut self-titled debut album in 2010 and Palmer continued to develop as a solo musician. Her second solo album, Theatre is Evil (2012), was funded via Kickstarter contributions from fans, who brought in nearly 1.2 million dollars in donations. This later caused an uproar on the tour behind the album, when Palmer put out a call for local backing musicians in each city who she said would be paid in "beer, merchandise and hugs." Detractors charged that not properly paying musicians, especially after her Kickstarter windfall, amounted to exploitation. A different kind of controversy erupted when the Boston-area native wrote a free verse poem sympathetic to Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnev shortly after his capture, which ignited impassioned responses from all sides, including a large amount of ridicule about the poem's artistic quality.