Singer-Songwriter • Activist • Writer

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A natural-born storyteller with the polish of an accomplished actress and the authentic edge of a seasoned blues musician.

Seattle Weekly


Featured Track: “I wanna see you be brave.”

Music is the art form we turn to when we need to build bridges and make ourselves plainly understood.

In January 2020, the United States was in crisis. The president was holding vital defense support to Ukraine hostage as a means of coercing their government into investigating the son of a political rival.

My civil disobedience action inside the Senate’s Russell Rotunda – performing Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” in an area where protest is strictly forbidden – was a call on Republican Senators to join Democrats in voting to remove that corrupt president from office.

More Music

Everyone You’ll Be EP • Studio Album Release Date: Feb 2024
Home demos…

Tae Phoenix · The Girls You'll Be Demos
Deep Cuts

Tour Dates

Boston8/7/23TBABerklee Performance Center*
Boston8/8/233:30pmCafe 939
New York8/14/236pmRockwood Music Hall
Washington, DC8/17/232-4pmWOWD Radio
Reston, VA8/18/236pmLake Anne Plaza
* I am a backup singer as part of a larger ensemble.

Bio / Artist Statement

My name is Tae Phoenix and my favorite party game is “two truths and a lie.” See if you can guess which is which:

The answer is in the footer of the website.

My work is about themes that everyone can relate to on some level: rejecting conformity, embracing authenticity, and finding the connections between healing ourselves and building the world we want.

Sometimes, when I’m stuck on where a musical idea belongs, I’ll write lyrics from the perspective of a fictional character and see where that takes me. I love this approach because I tend to obsess over stories: telling them, absorbing them, analyzing them. It doesn’t really matter as long as I’m immersed. I’ve written songs that started out as screenplays and the beginnings of musicals that I originally thought were novels. It all makes me ridiculously happy.

My favorite thing about using music as a storytelling vehicle is that a well-timed and well-written song can convey a tremendous amount of information just with the placement of a quarter note rest. I learned this the first time I performed in a Sondheim show. (“Into the Woods.”) I looked at the score, thought, “wow! It’s turtles all the way down, “and never looked back.

The performing arts world is a wonderful place for many reasons, but it’s also not an easy space for me to enter. As an Autistic, I get easily overwhelmed by loud, chaotic environments like music clubs. In a people-oriented business, missing a social cue, facial expression, or change in tone of voice can have implications that aren’t always obvious in the moment. One of my goals as I work in this space is to build more inclusive and accessible spaces for “neuro-spicy” artists and our supporters.



Music & Lyric Videos

Unbearable whiteness: the trap of perfectionism in anti-racist work

I was fortunate enough to snag a ticket to see Sara Porkalob’s brilliant production of Young Jean Lee’s  “Straight White Men” at Washington Ensemble Theatre last night. (It was just extended but it keeps selling out, so consider yourself lucky if you can get tickets.)

The show is a living room drama that centers Ed (David S. Klein) and his three grown sons, Matt (Frank Boyd), Jake (Andy Buffalen), and Drew (Sam Turner); all straight white men. The narrative is curated by two “people in charge,” both visibly queer people of color, played by Nina Williams-Teramachi and Nicholas Japaul Bernard.

After his mother’s death, Matt – who has a B.A. from Harvard and a graduate degree from Stanford and has done a decade of work at a broad variety of NGOs – comes home to cook and clean for his father and work an entry level clerical job at a local nonprofit.

His father and “alpha male” brothers are confused about his sudden loss of ambition. Drew is convinced he’s in need of therapy. Jake believes he’s being noble by stepping back from leadership to allow people with less privilege a chance to be at the center. Ed assumes he’s simply come home to pay off his student loans, and is intent on handing him a check so he can go out and fulfill his destiny as a great man.

As it turns out, Matt’s reason for not fully leveraging his education and experience is that he doesn’t feel like he was ever truly useful in any of the work he was doing. It felt like all he was doing was making things worse because didn’t have the answers.

Everything about this situation sets us up to like and respect Matt. His choice comes across as the product of laudable self-awareness and humility, and Frank Boyd does such a great job of discovering and revealing Matt’s humanity that he invites our empathy.

But there’s something really wrong with bowing out of using the considerable investment that’s been placed in your education because you’ve discovered you don’t have all the answers and you’ve messed some things up.

Fucking up is a natural part of being human, but Matt has decided that he’s going to pack up his toys and go home because he can’t be a perfect hero. This is the ultimate trap of whiteness; to be able to withdraw from the struggle for justice because you can’t tolerate the shame and ickyness you feel when faced with moral ambiguity and your own flaws.

If you are a person with privilege and you engage in the necessary work of dismantling it, you will have to be vulnerable and it will sometimes suck. You’re going to be self-conscious and unsure of where to put your hands. You’re going to feel profoundly ashamed when you discover new things about your privilege.

At some point, you’re going to say something ignorant and be called on it. People are going to be angry at you. You will lose privileged friends because you called them on their privilege. You will lose marginalized friends because you did or said something they cannot forgive.

We’ve already established that narcissism is the desire to remain perfectly invulnerable, and that narcissism is one of the prerequisites for a fascist society. What might appear to be Matt’s self-awareness is really the kind of inexcusable self-absorption that leads to being a passive bystander in a world that needs more participants.

The real mind fuck of the show for me was how attracted I found myself to Matt. I’ve historically had a penchant for finding the birds with the broken wings and trying to make them whole again, and I caught myself positively longing to be his manic pixie dream girl. And here is yet another product of constantly centering straight white men in our narratives for hundreds of years: the brooding protagonist is always supposed to get the girl.

Emotional Labor

Writing songs, speeches, and essays, researching and synthesizing information, and organizing and performing at protests are all emotional labor. Please consider making a contribution to my work.


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