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Nellie McKay performs A Girl Named Bill: The Life and Times of Billy Tipton in Hudson

Nellie McKay performs A Girl Named Bill: The Life and Times of Billy Tipton in Hudson

It wasn’t until his death that his three adopted children found out why this talented musician had shunned the spotlight (and doctors): Billy had been born, in 1914 in Oklahoma City, as Dorothy Lucille Tipton. She adopted a male persona in order to break into a music business that was still not very friendly to women performers, and went on to live as a man so persuasively that the two women with whom he had multi-year common-law marriages claimed never to have known that “Billy” was biologically female.