William Knowles

William Knowles is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received a BA from Howard University (emphasis Jazz Studies) and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts. During the past twenty years Mr. Knowles has amassed credits as a Composer, Arranger, Musical Director and Pianist for many shows at regional theaters around the country, including Dallas Theater Center, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Northlight (Chicago), CenterStage (Baltimore), Indiana Repertory Theater, and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, where he has performed in eight different productions.
Other notable productions include Tambourines to Glory, directed by Kenny Leon at the True Colors Theatre Company, and the 2001 regional theater tour of Dinah Was. Mr. Knowles has collaborated with playwright, lyricist, and director Thomas W. Jones II on a number of projects. Their original works include: Slam, Pearl Bailey…By Request, Cool Papa’s Party, Fool In Love, Ladies Swing The Blues, Billie’s Song, Blackberry Daze, and Shake Loose. “At this point we’ve created a number of worlds together. We can think and solve problems in the language of our own body of work. We understand each other’s rhythms,” Mr. Knowles recently commented in an interview. The Knowles/Jones collaboration has yielded a Helen Hayes Award for musical direction 2010 for Knowles (MetroStage), and Helen Hayes musical direction nominations for Gee’s Bend (MetroStage, 2014) and for Slam (Studio Theatre, 2000).
When not traveling the country, Mr. Knowles can be seen at one of the many jazz clubs in Washington, DC, where he is a sought-after musician and has played hundreds, if not thousands, of one-nighters. Russ Bickerstaff of Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express described him as “that quiet, charismatic guy at the piano….there’s a subtle flourish to Knowles’ technique that’s a lot of fun to watch.”