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Beth Watts Nelson

Traditional & Acoustic Music
Email:[email protected]


Beth is a Kansas born and bred, award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, singer, teacher and community builder. The music she makes draws from wells of old-time Americana, roots harmony, and nostalgic charm. With a voice like a church bell she sings to highlight connections between our shared human experiences and the natural world.

Accompanied by a Martin guitar or dynamic clawhammer banjo, Beth uses her music to bring audiences along on a journey of joy, laughter and longing. In addition to solo/duo performance, Beth is a leading member of several KC area performing groups. A founding member of the long-running Kansas bluegrass band, “Konza Swamp Band” (Garrett White – guitar, Caleb Gardner – mandolin, Beth Watts Nelson – guitar, Jesse Carr – fiddle, Nick Gardner – banjo, Chris Devictor – bass), and two new projects — a high-powered old-time string band, “Catgut” (Jesse Carr – fiddle, Beth Nelson – banjo, Andrew Morris – guitar, Jeremy Blaes – Appalachian flat foot/bones/washboard, Chris Devictor – bass), and “Little Miss Dynamite” (Beth Nelson – guitar and banjo, Caleb Gardner – guitar and mandolin, Betse Ellis – fiddle, Brandon Day – bass) featuring original and old-time songs and harmony singing.

As the founder and director of Notorious Chorus, Beth builds on a twenty year career leading choirs in public schools to bring the benefits of group singing outside the school walls. Making music for decades around the Kansas City area brings Beth in touch with all sorts of people that want to sing — people that miss singing in their high school choir, people who want to gain confidence in their voice or learn to sing in harmony and many, many people that would love to give singing a try but are afraid they might not be good enough.

Notorious Chorus was designed to meet all of those needs in a relaxed and fun setting. A master of music in choral conducting, Beth delights in bringing people together in song and surprising participants with what they can achieve when they sing together!

Primary Program Description

SOLO/DUO PERFORMANCE — Original music and traditional Americana accompanied on guitar or banjo. Can add another musician to form a duo with bass, guitar, mandolin, or fiddle. KONZA SWAMP BAND (six-piece bluegrass band) — Bluegrass, Old-Time and Good Old Country.

Clear off some space on the dance floor! CATGUT (five-piece old time string band) — Traditional string band music with the best flatfoot dancer around. Gotta see it to believe it! LITTLE MISS DYNAMITE (four-piece string band) — Original songs and a powerful string band sound. Packs a punch!

Program Fee

Solo performance — $300-$500 (variable based on performance time and sound equipment requirements) Duo or band performance — $250 per person (additional $100 fee to provide sound) Kansas City based musicians. Additional fees may be required for travel or lodging

Educational Activity Information

MUSIC NOTATION WORKSHOP — Participants begin with a page of blank sheet music and are guided through the practice of recording sound onto paper with music notation for rhythm and pitch. 30 minutes BEGINNER CLAWHAMMER BANJO WORKSHOP — Participants are guided through basic chord shapes, simple melodic patterns, and the elusive ‘bum-diddy’.

Participants provide their own instrument. 50 minutes INTERMEDIATE CLAWHAMMER BANJO WORKSHOP — Already got the ‘bum-diddy’? This workshop will take participants to the next level of clawhammer playing with alternate tunings and double-thumbing patterns. Participants provide their own instrument. 50 minutes.

Additional Activity Fee

Music Notation Workshop — $150 Clawhammer Banjo Workshop (beginner or intermediate) — $250 Kansas City based musician. Additional fees may be required for travel or lodging.

Notorious Chorus Two-Hour Workshop — $750 Kansas City based musician. Additional fees may be required for travel or lodging.

Community Activity Information

NOTORIOUS CHORUS — Beth turns the community into the choir. Each two-hour workshop begins with group vocal exercises to build confidence in the voice. Vocal exercises will address aspects of healthy singing technique like posture, breath, tone, range, and flexibility. Vocal exercises are followed by skill building in ear training including singing in rounds and instruction in solfege with Curwen hand signs (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do).

The group then applies those skills to learning a three-part song in harmony. Yes! Anybody can do it!!!! Song choice will be tailored to the needs of the group. Perfect for community gatherings, businesses, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, government organizations — literally any gathering of people will work.

Group size could be from 10-50 individuals — depending on the size of the space. Participants of Notorious Chorus enter the space as separate individuals and leave as valued members of a group. It’s not magic — it’s just choir!

Supporting Material

Educational Activity Recording

Community Activity Recording

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