Baltimost: Scott Patterson, pianist and artistic director of Afro House

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Credit: Jill Fannon.

Baltimost is a Baltimore Fishbowl feature series that asks locals what they love about their city. The idea is to celebrate Baltimore and the people who make it so unique.

So what makes Baltimore the Baltimost to you? It could be a favorite place, a great meal, a memorable interaction or something else entirely. Email suggestions to Karen at [email protected]

Scott Patterson, 42, is a pianist, composer and artistic director of Afro House.  In his words:

“Afro House is a music-driven performance art house. We make things with art and music. We tell stories. We got into the business to break barriers and challenge norms and aesthetics around people of color.

We perform in traditional and nontraditional spaces, including WTMD, The Walters Art Museum, The Peale Center and the home I share with my family.

I’m obsessed with futuristic stories and sounds. Right now, we are writing an Afrofuturistic opera ballet. We have an ensemble called the Astronaut Symphony that’s not like any ensemble you’ve heard before. It has beat boxing, electric bass, keyboards and six opera singers.

I played piano my whole life, and I never wanted to be limited to one particular style.  My influences include Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Earth, Wind and Fire.

I grew up in Atlanta, and got involved with the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, before going to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. I actually went for music theater, but I switched to being a piano major.

After I graduated, I went to the Manhattan School of Music, where I majored in piano. I lived in New York 10 years and while I was there I started a rock soul band, Kojo Modibo Sun.

My wife Alisha and I started Afro House in Washington D.C. in 2012. I’m the artistic director and she’s the managing director. A few years later, my brother Preston Patterson came aboard as choreographer and Eric Styles joined us as assistant artistic director.

One day, Alisha and I drove to Towson for a birthday party for her cousin. We got lost on the way home and wound up in Baltimore’s Station North neighborhood. I saw signs that said ‘arts district,’ and we decided right then that we wanted to live and work in Baltimore. At the time, our oldest was 2 and Alisha was pregnant with our second son.

In 2013, we moved to the Hamilton-Lauraville neighborhood. In 2017, we started the Afro House Concert Series. The concerts, which are a celebration of Baltimore’s extraordinary maker scene, happen in our home.

In addition to composing music for Afro House projects, such as the opera ballet I mentioned, since 2012 I have been composing and touring with Camille A. Brown & Dancers.

What do I love about Baltimore? The food markets. My favorites are R. House, Belvedere Square and the Mount Vernon Marketplace. The chicken dumplings at Pinch Dumplings in Mount Vernon Marketplace are fantastic. I get them fried, and don’t even dip them in soy sauce. They’re that good.”



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