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Daryl Waters

Music composer and arranger Daryl Waters was born in Cleveland, Ohio. From the age of eight years old, Waters studied music at the Cleveland Music School Settlement. While attending Shaw High School in East Cleveland, he played piano and served as a conductor for Karamu Theater and The Singing Angels, as well as conducting at a summer music theatre program and performing with his own band. Upon graduation, Waters enrolled at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he obtained his B.A. degree in music with a specialization in piano performance in 1978.

Waters returned to Cleveland after graduation, playing various jobs around town, before moving to New York in 1981, where he began working as a nightclub pianist, arranger and conductor. In 1983, Waters became the music director for the European tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’, the acclaimed musical revue of the Harlem Renaissance and tribute to Fats Waller. In 1985, Waters landed his first job on Broadway as the associate conductor of the Broadway musical, Leader of the Pack, directed by Michael Peters who choreographed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Beat It” music videos. In 1992, Waters was the associate conductor for George C. Wolfe’s Jelly’s Last Jam, joining Wolfe again in 1996 as a co-composer of Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, which garnered him his first Tony and Grammy nominations. In 1997, Waters supervised and orchestrated Street Corner Symphony, a revue of 1960s and 1970s soul music.

Waters worked Off-Broadway as the music director for George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum (1986), the composer for In Real Life (2001), orchestrator for Kirsten Childs’ Miracle Brothers (2005), music director of The Seven (2006) (a hip-hop adaptation of Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes), composer for Blue Door (2006), supervisor/arranger for the highly-acclaimed musical celebration A Civil War Christmas (2008) by Pulitzer winner Paula Vogel, and orchestrator for Childs’ Bella (2017).

In 2010, Waters earned rave reviews for his orchestration of Memphis: A New Musical, receiving both Tony and Drama Desk Awards. In 2013, he was the conductor for After Midnight, under the music direction of Wynton Marsalis, with various stars including Fantasia, Toni Braxton and Kenneth Edmonds, and Patti LaBelle. He arranged, orchestrated and supervised music for Holler If Ya Hear Me (2014), Shuffle Along (2016) with director George C. Wolfe (for which he also wrote new material), and The Cher Show (2018).

In addition to his theatrical accomplishments, Waters became Eartha Kitt's music director in 1986, performing concerts with her on six continents over twenty-two years. He also conducted and arranged for many other stars, including Leslie Uggams, Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines, Cab Calloway, Nell Carter, Patti Austin and Jennifer Holliday.

Waters is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the American Federation of Musicians.

Daryl Waters was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 12, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.143

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/12/2016

Last Name

Waters

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Maurice

Schools

Rozelle Elementary School

Mayfair Elementary School

Kirk Junior High School

Shaw High School

Livingstone College

First Name

Daryl

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

WAT15

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Favorite Quote

It Ain't Deep.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/12/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Music composer and arranger Daryl Waters (1956 – ) orchestrated such productions as Jelly’s Last Jam (1993), Bring in ‘Da Noise (1995), Memphis (2009), and Shuffle Along (2016).

Employment

DMW Enterprises, Inc

Eartha Kitt Productions

Self Employed

Favorite Color

Caribbean Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Daryl Waters' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Daryl Waters lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Daryl Waters describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Daryl Waters describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Daryl Waters talks about the traits he inherited from his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Daryl Waters lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Daryl Waters describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Daryl Waters remembers his early neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Daryl Waters talks about his elementary school

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Daryl Waters recalls his early musical interests

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Daryl Waters describes The Music Settlement in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Daryl Waters names his early musical influences

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Daryl Waters remembers his first musical theatre experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Daryl Waters remembers early encouragement from his piano teacher and his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Daryl Waters talks about his special qualities as a young musician

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Daryl Waters remembers acting as a music director at Karamu House while in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Daryl Waters talks about his musical influences in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Daryl Waters remembers balancing music and academics while in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Daryl Waters talks about his early exposure to religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Daryl Waters remembers his high school band, Life Is Real

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Daryl Waters recalls his experiences at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Daryl Waters remembers his mentor, K. Wilhelmina Boyd

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Daryl Waters describes the challenge of adjusting to life in Salisbury, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Daryl Waters talks about the movie 'Uptight'

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Daryl Waters remembers directing a homecoming talent show at Livingstone College

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Daryl Waters reflects upon his reluctance to promote himself

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Daryl Waters remembers his decision to move to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Daryl Waters remembers attending his first Broadway production

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Daryl Waters recalls his experience as a pianist at a New York City dessert club

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Daryl Waters remembers touring in Europe with the musical 'Ain't Misbehavin''

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Daryl Waters describes his duties in the production of 'Ain't Misbehavin''

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Daryl Waters remembers his first experience as a music director on Broadway

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Daryl Waters describes the responsibilities of a conductor in musical theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Daryl Waters recalls how he began working with Earth Kitt

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Daryl Waters reflects upon Eartha Kitt's musical influences

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Daryl Waters describes his experience working with Eartha Kitt

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Daryl Waters talks about Eartha Kitt's personality

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Daryl Waters describes his experiences as the associate conductor of 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Daryl Waters remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Daryl Waters describes the rehearsal schedule for a Broadway show

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Daryl Waters remembers becoming involved in 'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Daryl Waters talks about the music production of 'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Daryl Waters remembers his Tony Award nomination for 'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Daryl Waters talks about the educational component of 'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Daryl Waters describes HistoryMaker George C. Wolfe

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Daryl Waters talks about the business elements of a career in musical theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Daryl Waters describes the benefits of joining the American Federation of Musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Daryl Waters talks about the musical 'Street Corner Symphony'

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Daryl Waters remembers working on 'In Real Life'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Daryl Waters talks about creating the music for 'Drowning Crow'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Daryl Waters recalls the reception of the 2005 musical 'The Color Purple'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Daryl Waters describes the seating capacity of Broadway theatres

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Daryl Waters talks about the relationship between music and lighting cues

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Daryl Waters describes the musical 'Miracle Brothers'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Daryl Waters remembers the hip hop musical 'The Seven'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Daryl Waters talks about the play 'Blue Door'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Daryl Waters remembers the musical 'Memphis'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Daryl Waters talks about how winning awards impacted his career

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Daryl Waters remembers working with Wynton Marsalis on 'After Midnight'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Daryl Waters reflects upon the reception of 'Holler If Ya Hear Me'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Daryl Waters describes the challenges of scoring 'Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed'

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Daryl Waters talks about his projects at the time of the interview

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Daryl Waters remembers his favorite musical collaborators

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Daryl Waters reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Daryl Waters talks about his early work on Broadway

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Daryl Waters reflects upon black representation on Broadway

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Daryl Waters talks about the challenges to success on Broadway

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Daryl Waters describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Daryl Waters reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Daryl Waters talks about his close acquaintances

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Daryl Waters describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Daryl Waters narrates his photographs