Worshipping, exploring through guitar music

July 29, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Welcome to "The Pro File," a new, occasional feature in which Anne Arundel Live will introduce you to a professional entertainer, artist, musician or dancer who is doing something noteworthy in the area. Today's pro is Annapolis guitarist Rob Levit, for whom music is a religious expression.

THE PRO

When he's plucking the strings on his Heritage guitar, Rob Levit is an explorer, winding his way through the music, looking for the chord to perk up his ears, the notes to change the mood, the pause.

He is sure this is where he belongs.

"Music is my form of worship," says the Annapolis jazz guitarist. "I put it all out there and I don't hold anything back. It's a form of release, a form of expression to reach toward God. I always say, `Time to testify.' "

Amen, say the followers who flock to the 49 West coffee house in Annapolis each Thursday to hear Levit strum through sermons that pull material from a Jewish family, his Richmond, Va., upbringing and jazz legend John Coltrane.

The message is always the same: Music "is an absolutely joyous experience."

Levit starts the morning with compact discs spinning. He spends his days researching music, buying CDs and listening to new styles he can incorporate into his own, a mixture of jazz, pop and fusion with an international twist.

When his ears aren't doing the work, he's reading books on music or teaching beginning guitarists at his home. Then he picks up one of his guitars, and pours the day's preparation into four to six hours of exploration.

"A lot of times, I'll have my eyes closed and say, `Man, this is a really great experience, and I hope other people are feeling it too,' " he said.

THE FILE:

Age: 33, born in Rochester, N.Y., raised in Richmond, Va.

Education: University of Virginia, 1988, bachelor of arts in international relations; New England Conservatory of Music, 1992, master of music.

Awards: 1998 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for composition, 1997 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for instrumental performance.

Home: Hunt Meadow, Annapolis.

Personal: Married seven years to Elaine Levit, a speech-pathology master's student at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Inspired by: Saxophonist John Coltrane and guitarist and composer John McLaughlin.

Quote: "I know a secret: You can make a living out of anything you want as long as you make the commitment to do it."

Check him out: 8: 30 p.m. Thursdays at 49 West coffee house on West St. in Annapolis. (He'll take a break in August but will be back Sept 2.)

On the Web: www.roblevit.com

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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