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Born and raised in Uptown's Melpomene Projects, rapper Katey Red holds the distinction of being the first transgender MC to rise to prominence in New Orleans - and probably the world. Katey grew up twirling batons in the Walter L. Cohen High School marching band and rapping with her friends in school corridors and the courtyards of the Melpomene. After the popular local artist DJ Jubilee spotted Katey rapping at a block party in 1998, he suspected he was seeing a new sensation, and promptly brought her to his label, Take Fo Records,
which was at the time the top bounce-music label in the city. Katey's striking appearance, playful rhymes and infectious beats, courtesy of Jubilee, turned the young performer into a phenomenon who crossed boundaries with her assured self-confidence and out-and-proud lyrics.
Katey released "Melpomene Block Party" and "Y2Katey: The Millennium Sissy" on Take Fo in 1999 and 2000. She soon crossed racial boundaries as well, playing the popular underground nightclub Spellcaster Lodge and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 2000 and in 2010, she was profiled in the New York Times. She appeared as herself on seasons one and two of the HBO original series "Treme," and in 2011 performed in Europe for the first time. In the midst of it all, the performer still finds time to instruct middle and high-school marching band majorettes in New Orleans public schools every Carnival season.
A decade later, Katey has seen her early bravery pay off with the popularity of younger gay artists, including her former backup singer Big Freedia, who's become a worldwide sensation, as well as friends Sissy Nobby, Nicky da B and Vockah Redu. Katey remains an international legend and continues to perform around New Orleans in clubs and drag pageants, as well as onstage at Jazz Fest, the Voodoo Music Experience, and SXSW.