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susan Hoffman watts


Susan Hoffman Watts represents the youngest generation of an important klezmer dynasty that reaches back to 19th century Jewish Ukraine, beginning with her great-grandfather, Joseph Hoffman. Susan is the sole living purveyor of the family’s traditional klezmer trumpet sounds which electrified audiences for decades and have been featured in several documentaries.


Watts has recorded, performed and sang with: Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Henkus Netsky, The Klezmer Conservatory Band, The Klezmatics, Socalled, Mandy Pitankin, Dudu Fischer, and Mikveh (with Adrienne Cooper and Alicia Svigals) as well as her mother, the legendary klezmer drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts, in their Philadelphia-based group The Fabulous Shpilkes.


Watts is a composer and arranger who’s repertoire is filled with generations of klezmer compositions from her great grandfather, grandfather and now Susan’s additions to the family cannon. She has been commissioned to compose for the American Composer’s Forum and received a 2015 Pew Fellowship as well as two Leeway Foundation Grants, both centering on using klezmer as an agent of social change. As one of the leading klezmer trumpet players of the modern klezmer scene, Susan has taught at klezmer festivals in New York, France, Canada and London. Susan's project Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer brings together 12 of the top Klezmer instrumentalists in North America (whom all happen to be women) to perform new Klezmer compositions all penned by women.


Susan has contributed immensely to the contemporary klezmer scene, both through transmitting her family legacy and her own fiery and creative musicality. Her passion for Yiddish culture, klezmer music and its history has informed her life’s journey to this moment. Carrying the mantle of klezmer, keeping it in the forefront of the Jewish cultural experience and keeping it full of life is the essence of Susan Watts.

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