Jenny Watts, an out lesbian and native Houstonian, says she knew from an early age that music would be her thing.
“When I was little, I would watch orchestras performing on PBS instead of cartoons,” Watts says.
Watts, 37, is a freelance musician and music instructor, teaching piano, trumpet, and French horn at Music&Arts, in addition to offering piano, trumpet, and music-theory lessons in people’s homes through her own business, Making Music.
She is also a Tejano/Cumbia trumpet artist. “I started a brass band called Greater Houston Brass Choir,” Watts says. “It’s made up of two trumpets, a trombone, and a tuba.”
She also plays in the Pearland Community Band, the Houston Pride Band (which you can catch October 13 at the Hobby Center), the Houston Civic Symphony, The Billie Ledbetter Jazz Orchestra, and Kingz1.
Watts has published two music books, Trumpet 101 and The Music Diary, and shared stages with Latin Grammy-award winning artists and bands. She has danced with Tejano band La Sombra; sat in with the sound engineer “La Mafia,” and spent time in the booth with several KQQK radio DJs. “It looked like so much fun,” Watts says. “I wanted to be just like them.”
At 8, Watts began learning piano, before picking up the trumpet, guitar, and organ. “I also learned hand bells from church. I sang alto in the church choir. I learned French horn from helping out at a band camp for kids. I also learned percussion instruments and much more.” As for her musical tastes though, there is one outlier. Watts loves Korean pop music. “When I tell people I like Korean pop music, they are like, ‘What is that?’ I tell them it’s actually better than American pop music.”
Watts says she loves music primarily because people tell her that when she plays, “it touches them; it changes their lives, and it makes them want to share the music with others.”
“Music tells a story, and it tells the story of the person who wrote the music or who plays the music or even who hears the music in terms of how they interpret what they are hearing,” she says.
More than anything, Watts wants girls to know that trumpet is not just for boys. And, she adds, “I have goals to open my own music studio where I give music lessons of all kinds to anyone who wants to learn whether you are four-years-old or ninety-nine-years-old.” Her hope is to bring Tejano music back. “I hope I can teach, touch, and tell stories through my music whether it’s in Spanish or English; whether it’s with words or just musical notes. I hope my music can motivate someone to give 100 percent, to believe.”