@ the 606 Club
20 November 2007
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Born in Hackney, East London to Jamaican parents, Cleveland Watkiss
is one of nine children. He was exposed to a vast array of musical
genres. Added to this, his father who was both a carpenter and a
DJ often played ska, blue beat, reggae, jazz, blues and calypso.
He was also a frequent attendee of the famous Ronnie Scott’s
Watkiss left school at 16 and studied engineering, music and drama.
His talents were quickly recognised and he became an extremely important
cog in the wheel of Lover’s Rock which exploded during the
late 70’s. He was soon to be working with the likes of Carroll
Thompson and Jamaican legendary vocalist, Sugar Minott.
Watkiss’ love for acting also grew immensely. His growth
in this aspect of the arts world afforded him a lead role in the
European production of the musical, Hair. His love for music began
to grow beyond all proportions and he then undertook the study of
the voice, guitar, piano and composition.
In 1985 Watkiss was one of the co-founders along with Courtney
Pine O.B.E of the extremely influential Jazz Warriors big band.
His vocals can be heard on the Warrior’s debut album, “Out
of Many People” which won a video award in Japan. He was entered
for the Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards and was voted best vocalist for
three consecutive years.
Watkiss featured on and co-wrote the sound track to the film Epic
“Traveller” which can be heard on Talvin Singh’s
album “O.K”. He then took part in yet another historical
event at the Barbican, London which showcased a live concert for
Talvin Singh’s album. The band consisted of an all-star line
up which included the likes of the USA’s Bill Laswell, Karsh
Hale and Ajay Naidu, Japan’s Ryuichi Sakamoto, India's Rakesh
Chaurasia, Ustad Sultan Khan and Shankar Mahedevan and the UK’s
The Club 21st Century project was founded by Cleveland Watkiss
and HyperJAM director and multimedia artist Derek Richards to innovatively
exploit all that makes the club/concert the modern cultural processor.
Live musicians from a variety of traditions using ancient and modern
technology play improvisationally with DJs. Video and computer artists
generate projected imagery live in concord with the music. Performance
artists and dancers use interactive technology to become part of
Watkiss has performed with diverse artists such as: The Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra, Bob Dylan, Jackie Mittoo, Keith Richards, James Taylor
Quartet, Stevie Wonder, Patife, Carlinhos Brown, Robbie Williams,
Joe Cocker, Bobby Mc Ferrin, Branford Marsalis, Dussildorf symphonic
Orchestra, George Martin, Art Blakey, Bocato Big Band, Lisa Stansfield,
Janet Kay, Maxi Priest,Soul II Soul, Pete Townshend, The Who, London
chamber orchestra, Kassa Mady, Goldie, Liepaja Symphonic Orchestra,
Cassandra Wilson, Kenny Wheeler big band, Sugar Minot, Talvin Singh,
Bjork, Pete Townshend, London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC).