Idyllwild Arts Academy (IAA) senior Richard Watson is a songwriting major. Originally from Oakland, California, Watson attended Oakland School for the Arts from middle school through his junior year of high school before making his way to IAA to finish his high school career. While there, he studied vocal music.
“It didn’t have a film department or songwriting,” Watson said in regard to his former high school. “It wasn’t a boarding school and the songwriting aspect was really missing from my experience.”
Watson always enjoyed arts of all kinds, but found his biggest interest was in songwriting.
During the summer of 2020, Watson attended IAA’s summer intensive songwriting program. Even though it was all conducted via Zoom, Watson gained invaluable experience and was encouraged from the songwriting faculty to apply to the academy.
“I just learned so much through that summer intensive,” Watson explained. “I wanted to come here and learn more. That’s how I found Idyllwild.”
Watson’s father is a doctor and his mom went to law school. They aren’t really artists themselves, but they have an appreciation and are big supporters of the arts.
“My dad has had a big influence on the music style I listen to,” Watson said. “He helped inspire me to do music because he showed me so many artists, that still to this day, I admire a lot.”
While Watson‘s parents are not artists, his siblings are. His brother is a sound engineer and his sister is a dancer. His brother has also encouraged him to follow his love for music.
“My siblings are very artistic, same as the cousins in my family,” Watson said. “One cousin plays saxophone and the other plays piano.”
Watson’s love for songwriting encompasses many types of art, combining his passion for literature and the music that ties it all together. Studying vocals before attending IAA has helped in that. Watson also plays the piano and is now learning guitar.
Being accepted into IAA has been a life-changing experience for Watson.
“I was really excited to see what I was going to learn from the program,” he said. “When I got here and started taking classes, I learned about critiquing. I’ve just been really happy with the improvements I’ve made with my songwriting.”
Watson has also found inspiration from the academic faculty. One of those teachers is Shambo Carpenter, who teaches World Religion and Economics.
“He’s also from the bay area and has meditation classes that I’ve taken with him,” Watson said. “He’s kind of inspired me because he’s also been in a band and is a musician himself. He’s just a really cool guy.”
With college on the horizon, Watson has applied to multiple schools and plans to go to college in the fall. His number one school choice is the University of Southern California but he is still waiting to hear back as to if he has been accepted.
His grand plan is to follow his intended career path as a singer/songwriter and a music producer, touring the world while doing what he loves.
Watson provided some advice as a young musician.
“Surround yourself with people who are excited and be open enough to learn from others,” he shared. “You can learn so much not only from your teachers, but your peers.”