In this episode of Culture in a Time of Crises, Cleveland Watkiss MBE, a British vocalist, actor, and composer, talks to Shwetal A. Patel about his life and work. Watkiss discusses his childhood in Hackney, East London, and how he embarked on four-decade musical career via sound systems and an improbable admission to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama in the 1980’s. He also talks about his recent singer-actor role in the Tavares Strachan exhibition (In Plain Sight) at Marian Goodman gallery this summer, and how he ended up doing two hundred and one shows over eight intense weeks.
Art never really dies; artists always find a way to thrive and survive regardless of what’s going on in society. We reflect that and we’re able to find new ways of exposing what we do, because that’s what we do. That’s what we’ve always done. If you look throughout time and throughout history, that’s what artists voiced unvoiced found new ways of expressing themselves irrespective of what’s going on, so I just think that we are in that we’re riding that wave now where we’re moving into a whole other otherness.” – Cleveland Watkiss, vocalist, actor, and composer