Flo Anito's music & lyrics have a vibrancy to them, that makes her stand out - not just from her peers, but singer/songwriters in general.” - Michael Jaworek

— the Birchmere

Labor Day Weekend Music Festival 2017 The Lincoln Theatre, Washington Friday, September 1, 2017 @ 6:30pm Holiday weekends aren't usually the time to expect a three-day music festival in a major city such as DC. With so much of the local population heading out of town to visit family or get one last taste of summer, the streets seem to feel a little more empty and the events calendar looks just a little more sparse than usual. But that's all the more reason to head to the historic Lincoln Theatre for DC Arts' Labor Day Weekend Music Festival, featuring three full nights of free music by local artists. We were fortunate enough to attend the first evening's festivities, with performances by three bands—each fronted by a female vocalist—ranging in styles from jazz to indie-pop to full-on power rock. It all started with the classically-trained Flo Anito, who opened with the commercial-jingle-turned-Euro-hit A Night Like This before belting out one great vocal standard after another, backed by a band as talented as the Lincoln Theatre stage deserves.”


Art meets politics. Politics & Art, now in its fourth year, is an annual event presented by Washington Performing Arts’ Mars Urban Arts Initiative and Councilmember David Grosso. This year’s event theme is District Vox, a celebration of the human voice.  Politics & Art: District Vox spotlights D.C.-based artists who use the power of their voices to inspire, entertain, and empower in showcase performances on three stages. The evening provides a snapshot of the vibrant artistry that exists throughout the entire District. “The symbiotic relationship between art and politics is inescapable, especially in the District of Columbia. I’m proud to host Politics and Art at the Wilson Building again to showcase the vibrant arts community that makes D.C. a world-class city and provides local artists and elected officials the opportunity to meet and discuss the bright future of arts in Washington,” Councilmember Grosso. This year’s lineup features performances by more than 25 acts, including a wide range of singers, songwriters, spoken word artists, actors, vocal ensembles, and bands. The artists come from all eight wards of the District, reflecting the vital role of the performing arts throughout the community. “In a city where voices rise in song and speech it’s exciting to establish a platform—through the Mars Urban Arts Initiative—for creative artists from all 8 wards who will perform, in words and music, at the seat of our local government: The Wilson Building,” Jenny Bilfield, President & CEO of Washington Performing Arts. //MEET DISTRICT VOX ARTIST, Flo Anito // You are classically trained in voice, piano, and guitar. You describe your original music as “jazzy pop for piano and guitar,” and you also perform jazz standards. What draws you to all these different genres, and how do you see them relating to each other? I walked into jazz through a not so typical door. I started working in the theatre when I was eight, so my first exposure to jazz was the musical theatre versions of songs that doubled as jazz standards. I was collecting lots of different sounds from early on, though. I had already started playing piano and then cello, so classical music (and a bit of pop) became something not just to listen to but to do. I fell in love with Chopin and Debussy, but I was also enamored with James Taylor, Nancy Griffith, and later Ani Difranco and Jewel. My parents brought me to see singer/songwriters in concert, and when I started playing guitar, they took me to perform at open mics. I lived in a tiny town, so we’d travel an hour to sit in a coffee shop all night, so I could play a song or two – always stopping for Dunkin’ Donuts at one in the morning on the way home. When I went to college, I thought I’d be a theatre major but the music and dance professors there were terrific, and I ended up being exposed to things I’d never experienced before. I sang in a jazz improvisation class with Anthony Braxton that was wild–and by that I mean I sounded like a wild animal for half of the class; in my experimental music class I had to compose a 12 tone piece for a quartet; I played balafon for a Mande ensemble. My favorite class of all was an African dance class where we danced to live drums for 3 hours at a time. Wesleyan was where I began to write a lot of songs and with all those different sounds ringing in my ears I sort of lost track of genres. I think that’s still reflected in the music I write today. What do you like about the DC music scene? What would you like to see more of here in the future? I like that DC is so international and the culture is so rich. I’ve had the chance to play at embassies, political rallies, museums, historic theaters, and national festivals because all of those things are happening here all of the time. The National Cherry Blossom Festival used to have a stage in front of the steps of the Jefferson Memorial– playing there felt monumental. I think other cities are a little more friendly to original music. I was impressed with Austin’s live music scene. It seemed like every bar there had live artists, and so many of them were playing original music. I think it’s harder to make a living playing original music in DC. Is this your first time performing at Politics & Art? What made you want to apply? Do you see any interaction between politics and art in your music, and has that changed over the years?This is my first time performing at Politics & Art for me and my artist partner, Seth Kibel. I learned about the opportunity via Facebook, and it was perfect timing. Seth and I had just written a song for the NPR Tiny DeskContest called “Tiny Hands, Big Desk.” Seth had also just released an entire album of political songs called “Seth Kibel Presents: Songs of Snark and Despair” which I sang on. He wrote all of the songs between election day and the inauguration. I had also written a tune in response to Charlottesville, so we had a lot of topical songs that fit into the political art theme, but not a whole lot of opportunities to play them for a live audience. We play a lot of public shows that are meant to appeal to everybody, so songs that take political angles aren’t always a great fit. I think these songs are some of the most important that we’ve written and sharing them live is a very different experience than releasing them via social media. The event theme this year is District Vox. What does that mean to you?    I think that’s a great title because everybody in DC has an opinion when it comes to politics! DC is always in the news as the symbol of government but, for us, it’s our neighborhood. It’s an interesting position to be in. You’ve performed at such a wide variety of venues and with artists of many different genres. Any fun stories to share?    Well, the most famous person I’ve performed with is Lin-Manuel Miranda.  Lin and I were in “Jesus Christ Superstar” together at Wesleyan, and I guess he tweeted out a video about our performance. Feel free to share any exciting news or events coming up in your career!    I have a bunch of shows coming up, and I always post updates on my website so please check out our sites to learn more about Seth and me! Here they are: floanito.com sethkibel.com ” - Caroline Heaney

DC Trending

Flo Anito, originally from Chatham, New York, was one of numerous singer/songwriters in attendance. Describing her music as "jazzy pop for piano and guitar," she performed an hour-long set of original music that included a recently written song on the protest events in Charlottesville, Virginia, performed for the first time in public at the festival. Titled ‘Man’, the song focuses on someone observing the increasing political and social divides across the country. It just seems like everyday things are more and more divisive here, and Charlottesville when I was there, seemed like such a friendly place and everyone was very welcoming and kind," the DC-based performer said. "I just felt like we need to get beyond these dividers and I don't think that the people that are in charge right now are necessarily helping us to see what we have in common," she added.” - Nickolai Sukharev

Montgomery County Sentinel

Emerging singer-songwriter Flo Anito breathes new life into the DC music scene with a lyrically-driven, jazz-infused pop sound all her own. Following the success of her 2008 debut album No Dustbunnies, the Cleveland Park resident has been nominated for multiple Wammie Awards, opened for alt-rockers Weezer and Blink 182, and even sang the national anthem at a Washington Freedom game. Also, as a classically-trained pianist and cellist, Anito runs a monthly showcase at Chief Ike's Mambo Room in Adams Morgan. On the first Wednesday of every month, the local jazz/pop musician performs solo or with her band (along with two other artists) from 8-11 p.m. "When I first moved here, it was so hard to find a bar that was willing to let you play original music for their customers, the upstate New York native said. Rob Klein at Chief Ike's was one of the first people that was willing to say, we're going to devote one day a week to live, local music. They've been really supportive. Anito said the Mambo Room showcase is a nice opportunity to play and listen to original music in a DC bar setting. She has also performed at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Celebrate Fairfax Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Strathmore Music Hall and many other local festivals and venues. In the past year, she's composed instrumental music for a documentary, performed in a commercial for GEICO, and had some of her songs used in films. These were all relatively new experiences for me and they were a lot of fun, she said. Anito was nominated for Best Pop/Rock Vocalist at the Wammy Awards two years in a row and also earned a Best Music Video nomination in 2012 for her song Uh-Oh! It was a total surprise, she said of the nominations. I wasn't a WAMA member last year so it was really nice to even be put on the ballot and get some recognition. I appreciate the size of the DC music scene. Even if we don't all know each other, there's a good chance we've heard of one another and it always feels good to have someone recognize your work. She has written a great deal of material since releasing No Dustbunnies, which hit radio airwaves in the DC area as well as New York and Connecticut and became a best-seller through online music stores CD Baby and DigStation. I might release a lot of [new songs] as a live album because I'm really thinking about shifting gears and trying to write some material that goes in a different direction, she said. [No Dustbunnies] was so personal and it will forever be close to my heart, but I'm getting the itch to write about new topics and play with different genres. Anito said she's very interested in composing music in the dance/electronica genres and collaborating with some rap/hip-hop artists. She's also listening to a lot of Latin music and is smitten with the horn sections. The live album sounds like a good way to publish some of the music I've been performing and hopefully I'll do more of a studio album for things that I want to branch [out to] in the not- so-distant future. Anito developed her signature pop-jazz sound through the influence of 30s and 40s jazz greats. I think the jazz snuck its way into my original music because I grew up really loving what people like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Etta James could do, be it the gymnastics of scat or the emotion they could paint with their voices. As a self-described songstress first and musician second, Anito said she has always been drawn to music that is lyric-heavy and very expressive. I love songs that tell stories, she said. I think it'san amazing thing when someone writes in such detail about a character but listeners can still recognize that situation as one they've experienced or are experiencing. That is definitely something I'm hoping to achieve. In the next five years, Anito said she'd like to have a few albums out, perform and record full-time and work on a wide variety of projects. I'm interested in mixing it up more. I want to travel and see the world and have all of those experiences help me to evolve with my music. Learn more about Anito at floanito.com. Don't miss her live at Canal Park on June 26 at their weekly lunchtime series from 11:30 am to 1:30pm. www.canalparkdc.org. And check her out live the first Wednesday of every month 8 pm to 11 pm at Chief Ike's Mambo Room: 1725 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-332-2211; www.chiefikes.com.” - Monica Boland

On Tap Magazine

Before she headlines the Strathmore next Wed, we reviewed @floanito's track "Work!". Take a look and listen: Singer/Songwriter Flo Anito creates the perfect balance of piano jazz, heartbreaking but memorable lyrics ("He says it's too much drama/I'll never be happy, he'll never be good enough") and strong pop melodies. Anito refines all three talents on her track "Work!" from her album No Dustbunnies (released May '08). The arrangement itself is distinguishing, mixing bubbly piano chords and a subtle string section, with Anito topping it off with her robust and brazen vocals. Her gifts of an artist really come together here, turning a song about breaking up into a delightful gem.” - Elliot Wallace

D.C. Music Download

Washington, D.C. musician Flo Anito took the stage with her guitar, keyboard, drummer Jeff Goodwin and bassist Brian Waitzman in Silver Spring,Md. on July 22. While most of the crowd appeared wilted on what was possibly the hottest day of the summer, Flo’s buoyant melodies were bright and crisp. The show was the latest of the Friday Live! Series at the shopping center in Downtown Silver Spring. For most of the summer, the outdoor shopping center hosts free concerts on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. For two hours, Flo sang original and cover songs. Self-described as "pop with a twist of jazz", her music sounds upbeat even as she sings about the disappointments of life and romance. The switches between instruments and between original or cover songs appeared easy and fluid for Flo. The crowd sat on the mosaic tile steps of the shopping center, stood in front of the stage, and played in the fountain. Flo Anito, a multi-instrumentalist, regularly plays at D.C. venues like Chief Ike's Mambo Room, Bella Cafe, and area festivals. Her influences and knowledge of music range from musical theatre to classical, pop, and jazz. A few days before the show, Intern Edition caught up with Flo over email to find out more about her music and her experience as a D.C.-based musician for Sounds of the City. JG: As a multi-instrumentalist, which instrument do you rely on more while composing? FA: It was really hard for me to compose on the piano at first. I think this was because I was classically trained and didn't think of the piano in terms of chords and progressions - it was overwhelming, like deep-sea swimming. I taught myself guitar via a video of Jewel and tab from the internet so I learned the instrument in a chordal fashion, which made it much easier to compose on. Almost all of my early songs are guitar-based. In the last few years, though, that's really changed. I lean toward the piano when I'm writing - I like the versatility of the instrument and I'm technically a much better piano player. Besides, I think the piano has a very romantic sound. JG: What is your favorite D.C. area venue to either play or to see shows? FA: I like lots of different spots. I love playing outside - I always thought heaven would have a big field with a grand piano - so the National Cherry Blossom Festival is really beautiful - especially when they set the stage in front of the Jefferson Memorial. JG: What is the most fun thing about being a local musician in the D.C. area? FA: You get to meet a lot of really interesting people. After I played a set a few months ago, I met a man who trained the Special Forces down in Fort Bragg. We had a great conversation and he gave me a Green Beret coin and a lot of really great advice. JG: What is the earliest memory you have of music? FA: My oldest sister is a lot older than me so I remember performing for her friends when I was super tiny. Tears for Fears was definitely part of my repertoire. JG: A few years ago, you took part in the MetroPerforms! artist event and performed outside of a Metro station. Did that experience influence the way you approach an audience? FA: Singing outside of the Metro was awesome. I wish they'd bring that program back. It was an especially great experience in D.C., where everyone is always rushing from one place to the next. It was such a great challenge to figure out what would make them stop. I also love that, in that context, people feel comfortable coming up to you between songs to ask questions, exchange information, and every now and then bring you something refreshing to drink. A bottle of water goes a long way on a hot day, and hot chocolate does the trick on a cold one. JG: You seem to have a close relationship with a lot of fans through your mailing list, Facebook, and social media. How do you foster that relationship? FA: Right now I'm doing that all on my own and it actually takes quite a bit of time to keep all of the sites up-to-date and nurture those relationships. It's totally worth it, though - because of the internet, it is actually possible to be a successful recording artist sans a major record deal. That is amazing! JG: Are you able to have music as your day job? If not, how do you occupy yourself? FA: I'm doing music full-time now. I teach private piano and guitar lessons during the day and at night I sing. I'm really lucky. I get to do what I love. JG: When you think about people listening to your music, how do you picture them listening to it? FA: I picture them doing different things for different songs. I've had a lot of people contact me about some of the sadder love songs, actually thanking me and saying that they're going through something similar and that they identify. I guess I picture them in their rooms figuring things out. The more upbeat songs, I imagine people bopping around to or listening to while they're driving or running.” - Jane Gilvin

NPR Intern Edition

Month's ago, Flo Anito graced the headline banner of DC Deli's site as Artist of the Month. She had just debuted a music video off her latest album "No Dust Bunnies", and as of June 1, that video has recieved the grand prize in Ourstage's Video Finals. Our intern Jessie caught up with her to find out her musical origins, performing at DC memorials, and how she found Rod Stewart. Full interview here... (click link for interview)” - Jessie

Deli Magazine

Express Night Out Top Stops: #1 The Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Fest...[is] an impressive collection of not-well-known-but-well-loved-by-those-who-know-them mid-Atlantic musicians (including Flo Anito, pictured)” - Fiona Zublin

Washington Post Express Print Edition

FLO IN THE WASHINGTON POST! Last year's MetroPerforms! pilot program received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the public, and several artists who got a spot enjoyed it enough to audition again this season. "It went really well," Flo Anito said of her set at the bustling Gallery Place-Chinatown Station last year. "People kept trying to tip, but of course, they aren't allowed to." ... Anito, who said she is a "young twentysomething," is influenced by artists such as Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor. When she sang an original composition Saturday afternoon, the judges stopped her and asked, "Can you play something upbeat and that we are familiar with?" A pause and a visible racking of the brain followed. A few seconds later, Anito launched into a cover of Blues Traveler's "Run-Around," to the obvious delight of her auditors.” - Stephen Lowman

Washington Post