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WHEATS is the solo project and stage name of Anna Elise Anderson. The name WHEATS is both Elise’s childhood nickname as well as a traditional spiritual symbol of love, belief, charity, and healing in various religious iconology. All songs on WHEATS I & II are written by Elise and produced by Josh Reynolds in Nashville, TN.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, Elise grew up as a second soprano and soloist in the church choir, singing in choral groups throughout elementary, middle, and high school. As a child, Elise played piano and often wrote and sang original piano ballads, but rarely performed her own work. After graduating with a degree in Poetry and French from Davidson College in North Carolina, Elise and three roommates, all musicians playing in local North Carolina bands, created punk/garage group Brain F. A boisterous foursome, Brain F played festivals like Hopscotch, Phuzz Fest, and Atlanta Mess-Around and toured North America with Raleigh-based punk band Whatever Brains. The group played shows with well-loved bands across the spectrum, including The Intelligence, White Lung, The Men, Tyvek, G.G. King, and No Age.
Elise also sang backup in various side projects, including a Charlotte, NC appearance with friend and rapper Joe Crush as opening act for Talib Kwali and Big Krit. Brain F dissolved when Elise moved to NYC to pursue a career in poetry and publishing.
After several years in NY, Elise began studying and singing a series of old gospel, R&B, and Spiritual songs, recording a capella versions to send to friends. This music eventually led her back to Florida, where she returned to pursue graduate school for poetry. There in 2013 Elise met and began dating fellow musician Mike Overly, and the two spent time playing music on friends’ porches, playing shows with local punk acts, making poetry and art zines for local galleries, and writing songs together.
In December of 2014, during Elise’s first semester in the masters of poetry program at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Overly passed away from a heroin overdose. His sudden death changed Elise's life in a number of ways, sparking her interest in binaural beats and sound therapy, reminding her of the emotional healing power of rhythm, and leading her back home to St. Petersburg. Elise took a hiatus from school to recover from this loss, spending the year at home, living with her parents and writing the songs that eventually became WHEATS I & II.
The gospel background, long periods of solitude in NYC, and the comfort of returning home to the porches and mosquitoes of Florida are all present in the musical arrangement and dynamics of the songs on both WHEATS EPs. Inspired by the rich variety of textures, flora, fauna, and often tumultuous weather in her hometown, Elise composed the anthemic, folky tunes as a way of healing and processing the events of 2014 by spending time in nature.
The instrumental aspects of each WHEATS song capture the eerie hum and strange nuances of the atmosphere in rural Florida, while the lyrical content of each song focuses on healing, love, and forgiveness in the face of tragedy.
Music heals the soul.