Annie May Willis’ exquisite music speaks of solidarity and the relationship between all living things. This story of connection manifests in her songs of love and joy, trials and tribulations, the tragedy of loss, and the triumph of liberation. Like any great artist, Annie courageously weaves her story and truth into her music. The audience is invited into a deep and sacred place, to hear their own story within hers, and to find healing there.
Originally from rural New York, Annie first learned the language of music through her family of poets and musicians. Her mother, a pianist and singer, faithfully took Annie to violin lessons every Friday night for 12 years. Annie’s father was a prolific writer who shared his poetry and read to her often. All four of her older siblings were singers, musicians, or artists by the time she was born. Music was in her bones. But at the age of 16, Annie stepped off the musical path and eventually pursued a calling in social justice, law, and conflict resolution. This path took her to different corners of the world where she met intense human suffering and the fight for freedom and equality, which led her to discover the grace and power of forgiveness.
When Annie’s father died in 2010, her attention shifted from law towards the healing arts, understanding death, and how to be free within herself. She had already been shifting her focus from the “world-out-there” to the “world-in-here”, attending meditation retreats and working on what needed attention in herself. In 2013 music started to flow through her and she began to sing, write songs, and play guitar.
Through it all, the thread of solidarity and connection remained and in 2015 a group of Annie’s friends joined together and surprised her with funds to record the first 9 songs she ever wrote. That gift to her became a gift to the world in the form of her first album, Steady On. Annie joined with her friend and sound engineer, Jay-J, to record the bulk of Steady On over 5 days in her studio apartment.
What began as a short and surprising musical undertaking continued on as more songs came through Annie’s heart, voice, and guitar strings. Annie, Jay-J, and nine other talented singers and musicians teamed up again to record her second album, This Love, released in March 2018.
Now in the Santa Cruz hills of California, her roots in classical violin, Appalachian folk music, and social justice have grown into a raw and poetic voice for love, community, service, grace, and healing. She blends the worlds of heart and spirit and sings to the places that both ache and rejoice in all of us.