Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly-Glenn Copeland Story tells the story of a transgender elder emerging from isolation to receive the adulation he has long deserved. Since the rediscovery of his 1986 electronic new age album that shares a name with this film, Copeland has returned to international live performances. As the subject of an upcoming career-spanning compilation, his fans include Dan Snaith, Dev Hynes, and Robyn.
Guided by Copeland’s gentle storytelling, director Posy Dixon shares the biography of a supportive musical upbringing with classically educated pianist parents who were sadly too conservative to accept his queer lifestyle. At 17, Copeland moved to Montreal to study classical music at McGill University, before dropping out to record several albums of gorgeous jazz-folk songs that failed to catch on commercially. When computers became available, Copeland was wowed by the digital sounds that resembled “violins if you squint your ears,” creating the music for his electronic masterpiece in a humble run of 200 cassettes.
The film’s third act follows Copeland and his band of young musicians Indigo Rising on their tour of Europe. It includes a brief heart-swelling passage on the final years Copeland spent with his mother, when they finally learned to understand each other. At age 74, Copeland has come to the realization that his songs were always meant for this time, when listeners of all ages are deeply moved and his messages no longer feel like a fantasy.