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Amanda Palmer (born April 30, 1976) is the lead singer and pianist of the two-piece Brechtian punk cabaret band called The Dresden Dolls.
Palmer grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts. She attended Lexington High School, where she was heavily involved in the drama department, and received her B.A. from Wesleyan University. She staged performances based on work by the Legendary Pink Dots, an early influence, and was involved in the Legendary Pink Dots electronic mailing list, Cloud Zero. She then formed the Shadowbox Collective, devoted to putting on theatrical shows (such as the 2002 play, Hotel Blanc, which she directed) and street theatre, and busked as a living statue called “The Eight Foot Bride” in Harvard Square as well as in many other locations. She references this line of work in 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.”, and a group of white-painted living statues appears in the music video to the single “Sing” from the Dresden Dolls’ album Yes, Virginia.
Despite the fact that Palmer never learned to read music (though she briefly took lessons at two different periods), she formed a band called “Amanda Palmer and the Void”, an appropriately-titled solo act. In October 2000, Palmer met drummer Brian Viglione and together they formed the Dresden Dolls. In the 2005 WFNX /Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll, Palmer won Best Female Vocalist.
In an effort to expand the performance experience and interactivity, Palmer began inviting Lexington High School students to perform drama pieces at her live shows. Currently, the Dresden Dolls Brigade, a troupe of seasoned and new artists, perform at almost every gig. The invited costumed characters mingle with the crowd before and during the show, and veteran groups sometimes join in with a choreographed stage act. Life-sized marionettes, coin-operated boys, living statues, and other undergroundlings greet fans while circus and burlesque draw the audience into the Dolls’ music, creating a participatory atmosphere which allows the audience to experience numerous types of art simultaneously.
She identifies as bisexual.