After a career spanning more than four decades in rock ’n’ roll and multiple recordings, singer-songwriter Cidny Bullens is releasing a unique, debut album — of sorts. While it’s true Walkin’ Through This World, due out this summer, is actually Bullens’ ninth collection of original songs, it’s the first album he will put out as Cidny Bullens, a transgender man.
Produced by Ray Kennedy and Cidny Bullens, and recorded at Room & Board Studio in Nashville, Tenn., Walkin’ Through This World tells the story of Bullens’ gender transition and celebrates his life as an artist. From the pain of “Purgatory Road” and “Little Pieces” to the gratitude expressed in the title track, these songs are ultimately about the satisfaction and joy that come with staying true to oneself and following a dream. They come from the artist’s lived experience as a trans person, yet the lyrics resonate universally. The album is, says Sir Elton John, “amusical journey of the miracle that is Cidny Bullens. He HAD to do this. He had to musically tell his story. And it is SO moving.‘The Gender Line,’ ‘Walkin’ Through This World,’ ‘Call Me By My Name’ are killers. The playing and the sound are fabulous!”
The album includes collaborations with several artists, such as guest vocalists Rodney Crowell, Beth Nielson Chapman, Jess Leary, Mary Gauthier, Siobhan Kennedy, and Reid Bullens Crewe. Bullens’ songs reflect a range of musical influences, with the title track, a spoken-word song, offering homage to Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” and others embracing Nashville’s take on an Americana sound. The collection’s lyrics draw on Bullens’ lifelong narrative of reinvention, renewal, and paradox.
Cidny Bullens is also the subject of an award-winning documentary short film, The Gender Line, directed by T.J. Parsell and produced by Bill Brimm, released in 2019 by Outhaus Films. The film, which screened in 2019 and early 2020 at festivals in the U.S. and Canada until the coronavirus pandemic delayed theatrical release, was voted Best Documentary Short at the Edmonton International Film Festival. The Gender Line is excerpted from forthcoming feature film documentary Invisible, which tells the story of gay women songwriters in country music.
The two-time Grammy nominee began a career in rock ’n’ roll as Cindy Bullens, working early on with artists such as Sir Elton John, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, and Four Seasons songwriter-producer Bob Crewe. Cindy sang three lead vocals on the soundtrack of 1978’s Grease, and in the same year recorded her own critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated album Desire Wire. Cindy later took her talents to Nashville, where she had success recording and writing in collaboration with some of country music’s best songwriters, including the 1994 hit “Hammer and Nails,” written with and recorded by Radney Foster.
Tragedy struck in March of 1996, when Cindy lost her 11-year-old daughter Jessie to cancer. Sorrow compelled Cindy to write and eventually record the songs found on her widely acclaimed, heartbreaking album Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth, released in 1999. The album featured appearances by Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, Bryan Adams, Beth Neilson Chapman, Rodney Crowell, and a haunting duet with her elder daughter, Reid Bullens-Crewe, and it received the Best Rock Album award in 2000 from AFIM (Association for Independent Music).
Cindy’s 2001 album, Neverland, features Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and John Hiatt. Her 2005 release, dream #29, includes the rollicking piano playing of pal Sir Elton John on the title track, a duet with Delbert McClinton, and a vocal appearance by Boston Red Sox great Tim Wakefield. Howling Trains and Barking Dogs, from 2010, is a tribute to her Nashville co-writing days in the 1990s, compiling her best songs from that period.
In 2007 Cindy formed the Refugees, a trio with Wendy Waldman and Deborah Holland. Their first CD, Unbound, was released in 2009 followed by THREE, in 2012. With the artist recording as Cidny Bullens, they released the EP How Far It Goes, in 2019.
By 2011, having known since childhood that although everyone saw and treated her as female, the person inside was male, Cindy Bullens made the decision to transition. The artist everyone had known as Cindy Bullens set out to re-create himself — Cindy became Cidny, making a difficult and courageous gender transition over the course of five years. He stepped back from the public eye to go through the process, re-emerging in February 2016 as Cidny Bullens with the premiere of his autobiographical solo show Somewhere Between: Not an Ordinary Life in Santa Fe, N.M., directed by Tanya Taylor Rubinstein. Cidny has since performed the show in venues across the U.S.
Combining storytelling and song, Somewhere Between begins with Cindy’s arrival in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, takes us through her fateful meetings with Bob Crewe and Elton John — brushing ever so close to stardom — and covers her journey as a wife and mother, then as a bereaved parent, and finally as a grandparent. We learn about Cindy’s private struggle with gender identity and how, finally, she decides to embrace gender transition — to become Cidny, the person he always knew he was, the person who sings assuredly now, on his latest album “I’m walkin’ through this world/as exactly who I am.” The Nashville Scene named Somewhere Between 2016’s Best One-Person Show.
On January 12, 2018 in New York's City Hall, Cid married Tanya Taylor Rubinstein. They split their time between Nashville and Cid’s home in Maine, where they enjoy the company of his daughter Reid and grandchildren.