Former RVA Trans Country Singer Announces Release of First Studio Album
It’s been a good month for GayRVA hearing from awesome local LGBT performers. First, My Darling Fury spoke to us about the success of their Kickstarter Campaign, and now we hear from former Richmonder Eli Conley releasing his first solo album, “At the Seams.”
Take a listen to some of Conley’s sweet, southern fare here:
Conley’s smooth vocals and fast fingers have created a unique country sound that we are obviously not the only fans of – he recently raised over 141% of his goal in an Indiegogo campaign. And the success of that campaign lead to the recording and now release of “At the Seams.”
Conley is a gay transgender man who grew up in Richmond. He’s been writing songs since he was 16 and has undergone classical musical training. In an email, Conley spoke about how his sexual identity plays a role in the music he writes, including on his new album’s opening track.
“When God Sets His Sights On You,” is about a young queer teen who comes out to her Christian mom, faces an initially poor response, and ends up running away before her mom has a chance to come around. I tried to make it more complex than the traditional narrative, showing how both the mom and the daughter make rash decisions in a moment when emotions are running high.
Gay RVA’s Karen Newton spoke with Conley back in 2011 when he came through the GCCR and was starting a mid-Atlantic tour. In that interview, he spoke about why and how he became a musician, and the concerns he had with his transition both personally and professionally.
When I was in high school I started writing songs and thinking more seriously about music as a career, but I had this idea that being a singer/songwriter wasn’t “practical.” I took singing lessons with the intention of going to a conservatory and studying opera.
Part of my hesitation at pursuing classical music came from the fact that toward the end of high school I realized that despite being born with a body that people labeled “female,” I didn’t feel like a woman. So as much as I enjoyed singing soprano arias (and I did!), once I started identifying as transgender, going for a career in the highly gendered world of opera seemed dicey. Especially once I was considering taking testosterone, which would change my voice dramatically.
I had no idea whether I would still be able to sing after taking hormones, but with the help of my college voice teacher, I’m thankful to have become a very confident tenor! That’s part of the reason I became a voice teacher myself — to pass on what I learned to other transgender people who want to learn to sing better.
Still, it wasn’t until I was working full time at a non-profit that I realized that I would never be happy unless I gave myself the chance to try and make it as a singer/songwriter. So here I am.
You’ll be able to pick up “At the Seams” from online retailers when it’s released September 28th, and you can pre-order it through Conley’s website.
Tim is a writer, video game nerd, and music fan. You'll see him at shows, or you wont really see him at all.
“If folks are into our style of music I think it will be both complementary and different enough that it should be really interesting.”April 1, 2015
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