“Anna is gifted beyond her years,” says Brian Greene, worship and production leader of Freedom Life Church. “She’s so diverse with her skill set; multi-genre and multi-generational.” Greene has been performing alongside Anna Perkins, a vocalist, pianist and composer, for eight years.
Perkins is the oldest of four children, all of whom live locally. Encouraged by her grandmother, Perkins began classical piano lessons at age 10. Perkins graduated summa cum laude from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music with a concentration in composition. She planned to pursue a graduate degree in composition to become a film score composer but turned to performance, unexpectedly discovering how much she enjoyed it.
Perkins taught music to preschoolers and eventually joined the Summit Christian Academy faculty as an upper-level school chorus teacher. She had the honor of composing an alma mater for the school, which premiered at last year’s graduation. She enjoys performing in different capacities and giving private piano lessons.
“My average week varies; a rehearsal for this group, playing a show, piano lessons and lesson planning for Summit,” she says. She also works for her sister’s company, Wishery Entertainment, performing as Disney princesses at events.
Perkins has been a member of The Truetone Honeys for five years. This summer the trio’s week-long tour took them from Baltimore, Maryland to Asheville, North Carolina. The other members of the trio include Caroline Scruggs, who sings and plays stringed instruments, and Jeanette Corey, who also sings. Perkins sings the lower parts and plays piano accompaniment. “The tour was musically fulfilling as the vocal parts were challenging and we had creative freedom with arranging,” Perkins says. “I like a cappella and accompanied music. The most fun you can have is singing in harmony with other people.”
Solo jazz performances are delivered regularly at Gershwin’s in Norfolk where she plays piano and sings. “I love the ongoing music in jazz; the listening and the dialogue that has to happen between musicians,” Perkins explains. “It’s refreshing when I’m trying to create all those parts and sounds myself.”
Perkins has a form of synesthesia, a condition where information that typically stimulates one of your senses may stimulate several others. Her ability in this area is a subset of synthesis known as Chromesthesia (sound-to-color). “Music is visually represented,” she explains. “I can see sounds as colors and sometimes as shapes or motions.” To her, different piano keys have specific colors associated with them. Her college senior recital was designed around this idea; color coordinated by lighting and paintings. “Chromesthesia comes in handy with transcribing music because I can isolate sounds in a visual way in my brain as well as visualizing a keyboard,” she says. “It makes it easier to find harmonies.”
“I’m fortunate to be married to a man who is steady and kind,” she says of her husband, Josh Settle, a radio frequency electrical engineer at Jefferson Lab. “He played bassoon in school and understands why music is so fulfilling.”
“The musicians in Hampton Roads love to play music together,” she says. “I feel this area has the potential to be great as we have such a constantly changing and diverse culture.”
When asked about her favorite vocalist, Perkins immediately names Ella Fitzgerald. “She’s from Newport News and was such a monster vocalist,” she says. “Just perfection.”
Perkins hosts Life on the Brink, a podcast about living well and “celebrating the everyday.” Perkins enjoys gardening, drinking tea, making her house pretty and cooking different cuisines.
“Many times you get players who are very talented and become out of touch and super prideful,” says Sam Redecki, a guitarist who has been playing alongside Perkins at Freedom Life for years “She’s always stayed respectful of people’s time and efforts.”
“Just to see how multi-faceted she is and how well she does everything — it’s breathtaking. She’s a musical chameleon,” Greene says in awe.
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Anna Perkins Music
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