Trudy Pitts with husband Mr. C at the Meiji-En Restaurant A dream gig might be this: three nights each week in a restaurant noted for its warmth, intimacy, musical freedom, and complete support for the artist. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Well, in the City of Brotherly Love, the Meiji-En (thought to be the nation's biggest Japanese restaurant) offered such a piano trio gig to two of my favorite musicians, Trudy Pitts and Mr. C, and for the last five years it has seemed like a dream. I've been calling Trudy and Mr. C Philadelphia's best- kept secret, but the truth is that most people in the know have been hip to Trudy's piano and organ work and Mr. C's drumming and promoting for years.
Trudy is a native Philadelphian who began playing piano at age six. Her mother, too, was a musician and inspired this family tradition. "My family was deeply involved in the church community," says Trudy, "and I started playing piano for Sunday school when I was about nine or ten. As time went on, I was introduced to the church organ, and I played organ in Sunday school."
Trudy later helped with the senior choir during the main services and from there went on to her own church choirs in various other settings. As she puts it, "It was just a musical atmosphere. You did whatever you had to do wherever you were."
Earning a degree in music education was only natural for this talented prodigy. She studied at Philadelphia's Musical Academy, Temple University, and Juilliard, among other institutions. During these years she reached out to the classics and built a base from which future compositions and arrangements would spring.
Always seeking new musical challenges, Trudy accepted an offer to sit in the pit as an assistant to the pianist in the Tony Award-winning show Raisin' when it traveled through Philadelphia. "I did that for the month or two that they were in town. Then not too much later I got a call from the manager inquiring if I could join the company for the rest of the tour."
Thinking the music was truly beautiful and the show dynamic, Trudy entered yet another level in her development. "It was something I hadn't done before, and it was a great responsibility. I was playing piano and organ. She eventually became the assistant to the conductor of this nationally touring show, but she never lost sight of what she felt was her true charge, creative music.