SHE WRITES THE SONGS: Anessa Marie Went from Sleeping in Central Park to Composing Musical Theater in the City That Doesn't Sleep

By Artavia, David | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), August-September 2018 | Go to article overview

SHE WRITES THE SONGS: Anessa Marie Went from Sleeping in Central Park to Composing Musical Theater in the City That Doesn't Sleep


Artavia, David, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


Finding one's calling requires a spirit strong enough to withstand the journey in a world that often pressures us to hide. For transgender composer Anessa Marie (AnessaMarie.com), it also required realizing it's OK to demand unconditional love.

It's been five years since Marie left her proselytizing family (her dad and grandfather are both pastors) in West Virginia and relocated to New York City, where she's been making the rounds as a musical director for both Off-Broadway and regional theater. She started transitioning immediately after the move, but it came with painful sacrifices. "Throughout my transition, I lost some friends," she recalls now. "I completely lost contact with my family." She also found herself homeless and sleeping on the grounds of Central Park for several weeks--during the winter.

But music saved her, the way it's done many times in her life. Indeed, Marie found solace in the piano at an early age when her great-grandfather, a piano player himself, encouraged her to compete as a classical pianist. She would later gravitate to music to escape familial conflicts over her gender presentation. "It was in those times, I would sit down at my piano and write whatever would come out," she says.

Marie's talent has made her a familiar face in N.Y.C., often as the only (or one of few) queer musicians in the orchestra pit--something she says is changing. …

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