Gladys Bentley was born August 12, 1907 (some accounts list the birthday as January 12), in Philadelphia, PA. As a young woman she moved to New York City's famous Harlem district, where, dressed in her signature tuxedo and top hat, she began singing at rent parties and speakeasies, creating an image as a lesbian chanteuse. She recorded ten tracks for Okeh Records in New York between August 1928 and March 1929, eight of which were officially released by the label. In 1937 she left New York and moved to Los Angeles, CA. She recorded ten tracks for Excelsior Records in 1945 and a single for Flame Records in the 1950s, but given that she had to considerably tone down her outrageous and bawdy stage act in order to record, none of her releases effectively captures her musical essence. She died on January 18, 1960, from flu complications.