by Peter Kusnic
Clevelander Anthony Covatta wears many hats – singer/songwriter, actor, comedian…even notary public. “I struggle to juggle,” he says, laughing, “but the busier I am, the more I can accomplish.”
Covatta, who is openly pansexual, has indeed stayed busy, even as the Covid pandemic has made performing in public impossible. In addition to a forthcoming musical collaboration with Clear Vision 2020 – an organization dedicated to “educating people through the arts on how to love and respect themselves and others who are different” – Covatta continues to put out new singles from his self-titled album, which will be released later this year on October 31.
The Buckeye Flame chatted with Covatta about the origins of his eclectic style and the inspiration behind the new album.
When did you first start writing music?
I started writing poetry when I was 9 or 10. I was a very romantic little boy, always crushing on somebody, and I’d just put it all down on paper. That translated into musical inspiration. I was drawn to R&B and soul music at a very early age; Etta James, Ottis Redding, Bill Withers – those are my greatest influences, but there is also this acoustic rock part of my I found in Ani DiFranco, Dave Matthews, John Mayer. Also, working in the LGBTQ+ community and being surrounded by EDM and dance music has influenced me as well.
What’s Cleveland’s music scene like?
Well I remember I had my first gig on my own at 19 at The Roc Bar and was so nervous about it and was afraid to get back on stage for a while after. Then I was nurtured by a huge open mic scene in our city, namely at Edison’s Pub hosted by my friend Shawn Mishak. With my confidence having grown from that experience, I started to play all around town in Cleveland was able to work with and watch some of the greatest artists and musicians who have truly helped me grow as an artist. George Chase and Chayla Hope of Beachweek, Diana Chittester, Rachel Shortt, just to name a couple stand-out performers for me. Producers like Jerry Dodrill, Eddie Tomecko and GoshanBeatz, all Cleveland artists and all amazing. Cleveland music scene is incredible. We are like this tight-knit community of artists, producers and venues of various genres who come together and celebrate each other. We have so much talent in this city, and being surrounded by such great artists and playing these great venues/events like Pride in the CLE has really shaped me into who I am as an artist, which is pretty eclectic. Honestly the different facets of my music stem from my work with or witnessing the work of greatness around me. That is CLE Music in a nutshell.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on a project called Clear Vision 2020, which is a cover of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now,” produced by Eddie Tomeko and Elijah Gilmore, the founders of the Clear Vision movement. I was so excited to be asked to be among the artists to participate in this because I love the mission of the organization: educating people through the arts on how to love and respect themselves and others who are different. The single and the music video, which we shot down at Edgewater Park here in Cleveland, will come out in the next couple weeks, and the proceeds will go to various organizations including Black Lives Matter.
And later this year, you have an album coming out?
Yes! The album – it’s self-titled; Anthony Covatta – is dropping on October 31 and will feature 8-10 tracks. I’m super proud of what we’ve done so far. We’re all cooped up and stuck inside – even when we’re outside we’re still cooped up because we’re wearing masks. Freedom is very limited right now, and I felt it was important to keep music flowing. In the past year, I released four new songs, and a lot of collaborations are coming up, and the album will feature those, plus some new material I’m working on. Due to the pandemic, most of the album is being made over email; it’s a bit unorthodox, but we’re proving that you can still get it done.
Peter Kusnic is a writer and editor based in Cleveland, OH.