Born to classical music teachers in 1953 in Virginia, Kit Watkins studied piano at home from ages 5 through 13. During his teen years, Kit was drawn to rock music and became a driving force behind a series of local cover bands, playing organ, synthesizer, and flute, as well as singing lead. By age 18, he was discovering his own writing abilities. He soon joined up with the band Happy The Man (HTM) which was forming at the local university. It was with HTM that Kit honed his skills in composing, performing, arranging, and producing. During its six years, the band recorded five albums, including two produced by Ken Scott and released on Arista Records. In 1979, Kit then joined the British band Camel for an album produced by Rupert Hine and several tours of UK, Europe, and Japan from 1980 through 1982.
Kit's solo career began in 1980 with the self-produced album Labyrinth, released on his own Azimuth Records label. The album won him 5th place in Keyboard magazine's Annual Readers' Poll Awards for keyboard album. He recorded and performed with drummer/percussionist Coco Roussel during this period. During the 80s, Kit continued to produce solo and collaborative albums, some released on his own label, while others were picked up by larger independent labels. In the early 90s, Kit formed a new label, Linden Music, which released a number of his new recordings, as well as CDs by Robert Rich, Jeff Greinke, and David Borden.
His music style has changed focus from album to album, and has gradually veered away from the progressive rock of his youth into more subtle and mysterious forms of expression, such as ambient-jazz and world-fusion. His influences include artists such as Brian Eno, Mickey Hart, Mark Isham, Joe Zawinul, Harold Budd, Wayne Shorter, Steve Reich, Joni Mitchell, Jon Hassell, Eberhard Weber, Jeff Greinke, Robert Rich, Jan Garbarek, Steve Roach, Wendy Carlos.
In 2001, Kit performed a notable concert in Philadelphia for The Gatherings series, hosted by Chuck van Zyl of Star's End radio. It was Kit's first performance in 20 years, and his first ever as a solo artist in a new genre. In preparation for this concert, Kit began learning and using an electronic wind instrument as the focal point of his stage performance. He finds this instrument far more expressive and liberating than electronic keyboards, especially for melody and solo work. Coupling his abilities on flute with his many influences by horn and reed players, the migration to the electronic wind instrument has been a natural. The Gathering CDs are available on Kit's MP3.com page. A video of the concert is being prepared for web streaming, and for possible DVD release.
Also in 2001, Kit formed an improvisational ensemble named Tone Ghost Ether. The group was realized through a natural interaction between three musicians (Kit Watkins, Brad Allen, John Tlusty) searching for a common form of expression. All of the music by Tone Ghost Ether is improvised and played in real-time without overdubs. The ensemble's pioneering debut CDs are available at MP3.com.
In 2002, Kit formed a collaborative project with Iranian musician Amir Baghiri, entitled Once Arrow. The duo is currently at the beginning stages of their work, but both artists are enthusiastically planning on more than one CD release in the ambient-jazz and world-fusion genres.
Kit Watkins will continue to perform special live concerts. He is now working with live 4-channel sound (surround) and projected video art. In deciding on a venue, Kit looks for spaces that have a natural warmth and ambience. Upcoming concerts will be announced via the Kit Watkins E-mailing List.
The music of Kit Watkins can been heard on-line at his MP3.com page, as well as on such radio shows as Hearts of Space, Star's End, and Echoes. Kit's wide ranging interests in music and sound allow him to change his focus from album to album resulting in a fresh experience for both artist and listener.