“Conversations” Episode 10: Interview with Anne Watts

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Art and Entrepreneurship on Baltimore’s East Side

For this episode of Conversations Jack Livingston interviews musician and composer Anne Watts.

Anne Watts is a longtime member of Baltimore’s music, theater, and arts scene. She is best known for her work with her band, Boister. Since forming in 1997 the Baltimore band has released eight acclaimed discs—two of them produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson. The band is also renowned for its dynamic film scores played live for silent classics by D.W. Griffith, Buster Keaton and others.

annwatts_boister__color_2015Anne Watts with Boister – 2015

 ”Boister’s relentlessly listenable songs of sorrow and pity, of sin and salvation, deftly stitch together musical swatches of pre-Weimar Germany, jazz-age Paris, and post-modern America to form a strong, seamless, 100 percent natural sound fabric.”  –Michael Yockel, New York Times.

Anne Watts with Boister in 2011.Anne Watts with Boister – 2011.

Boister – “Cast A Net” – 2015

Anne was born in Baltimore MD in 1962. She grew up in Baltimore then attended Hampshire College in Amherst, MA where she studied with Art Matthews. Her mentor was Roland Wiggins who passed on his knowledge of theory to the likes of Miles Davis and Sonny Fortune. She also studied independently with pianist Monica Jakuc, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lew Spratlan, and John Sessions. She went on to study with German Piano pedagogue Konrad Wolff.

annwatts_familyportraitThe artist as a child.  Anne Watts “Family Portrait 1060’s”
annwatts01_TWELVE_YEARS_OLDAnne – 12 years old.annwatts_Anne-in-Maine-1979_a-16Anne — a teenager in Maine.

In 1984, she returned to her roots in the theater and composed scores for productions such as Industrial Strength Theater’s adaptation of Heinrich Boll’s “My Sad Face” and Heiner Muller’s “Hamlet Machine.” She also collaborated with performance artist Lucio Pozzi and choreographer Louise Steinman.

annwatts_citypaperCityPaper feature, 1990.
annwatts_with_john_Englehart1990Ann Watts with  John Englehart, 1990

In 1988 Anne co-founded Opus B, an arts cooperative working with the elderly, the mentally impaired, and at-risk youth. In a South Baltimore nursing home, she met John Englehart, an 81-year-old schizophrenic. Their close collaboration lasted until his death in 1992. During this time he developed his innate skills as a painter. Their work together culminated in a celebrated solo exhibition of his work and her song cycle Melee Au Soleil, recorded the week of his death.
annwatts_JOHN_B_OPENING_AT_THE_BAUHOUSE01                                           Anne Watts with John Englehart at his opening at the Bauhouse.

Anne Watts and Boister: Music from Madness NPR Segment

Anne currently lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she lives with her husband, writer and curator John Lewis, and their two children, Posie and Levi. She is involved in the development of a performing arts venue and teaches piano, voice, and composition. Boister’s latest disc, Cast A Net, was released on October 23, 2015.

This episode of Conversations was recorded in the musician’s mothers home in Roland Park in the Summer of 2015.

annwatts_currentfamilyphotoAnne Watts with husband John Lewis their children Posie and Levi

Boister • Chlorophyll from Freeman Studio on Vimeo.

annwatts_boister_bwAnne Watts and Boister
AnneWatts_Boister_with_JimDickinsonBoister with producer Jim Dickinson.annwatts_boister_poster_CA annwatts_boister_CA_poster 

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