Kennith Watts Jr.

October 19, 2020

Kennith Watts Jr. '13 spends much of his time composing and creating stories through music. When he’s not producing his own, Watts shares his passion with younger musicians.

Watts is a presenter and instructor with the Drum Major Leadership Academy, which hosts workshops, camps and clinics in several cities in the U.S. He sees the program as a way to pass on his knowledge to aspiring musicians and leaders from band programs across the country.
“I want to help my students break down walls of doubt in their abilities,” said Watts. “I truly hope I can help them reassess what they think they can’t do and develop a creative, viable plan to get past it.”
Watts, a native of Kinston, NC, is a staff member of the E. A. Laney High School Marching Buccaneers, a position he has held since 2011. He serves as the lead designer, percussion supervisor and staff coordinator. A former director of bands at UNCW knew Watts was interested in teaching marching band students and connected him with band director Robert Pearson at Laney.
Pearson showed Watts what a high school band program needs to function well, he said. It’s because of the Laney High School program that Watts joined Carolina Gold Performing Arts, a North Carolina organization that provides music education, competitive performance and community engagement.
“That program is why I signed up to be a co-founder of Alchemy Independent Percussion, an independent percussion ensemble,” he said. “I wanted to give students an opportunity to perform at a higher level.”
Watts’s music education began when he was a boy. He explored composing and sound design at a young age and was also influenced by his parents. His mother was a chef and vocalist and his dad worked as a sound supervisor for a local television station. He continued his music education at UNCW, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in music with a concentration in recording technology and trombone performance. Watts worked as a sound engineer at Kenan Auditorium and was actively involved in the UNCW Pep Band, where he was in charge of rehearsals.
“I was most successful as a leader when I learned that it wasn’t about being perfect, but being myself and helping others succeed,” he said. “Perfect is a goal we all strive for, which at times, overshadows growth. Embracing growth creates a positive power that in turn, increases progress.”
-- Venita Jenkins