Prolific composer Chris Hewitt created music with 'a childlike joy'

Marc Shulgold, Rocky Mountain News

Published June 6, 2007 at midnight

Thousands of people have heard Chris Hewitt's evocative music without ever knowing its authorship. A versatile and prolific composer, Mr. Hewitt supplied soundtrack accompaniments for video games, cable TV programs, a NASA video and exhibits at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, among other unusual media.

"I've heard him do just about everything," said longtime friend and collaborator Mark McCoin. "He loved to play and write music - he had a childlike joy in being able to do that."

Mr. Hewitt, who died Sunday after a lengthy battle with cancer, was 52.

McCoin called him "a fearless musical warrior who put his heart and soul into everything he did, combining solid technique with a huge brain."

While creating numerous background scores, Mr. Hewitt gained a more public face in recent years, performing with local jazz musician Laura Newman's band AOA. But then, said Jeanie, his wife of five years, being in the spotlight was not a high priority for Mr. Hewitt. Composing and playing were what mattered.

"He was always consumed (by music). Chris was never a regular human being," she said with a chuckle. "Music permeated every moment of his living. He was very intense - but that intensity brought all of us joy."

McCoin marveled at Mr. Hewitt's spirituality, noting that his friend could meditate for up to four hours.

Mr. Hewitt, a native of Shreveport, La., graduated from North Texas State University and immediately set out to seek his fortune. He began his travels, Jeanie Hewitt said, "with $300, an old (electric) keyboard - and no map." His first stop was Colorado. "He looked around and said, 'This is it.' "

Mr. Hewitt leaves two sons from a previous marriage - Michael, 16, and David 14 - and a step-daughter, Jarra, 15. He also is survived by his father, Forrest, of Visalia, Calif.; and three brothers: David, of Exeter, Calif., Jeff, of Huntsville, Ala., and Clark, of Sacramento, Calif. No funeral is planned.

"A Chris Hewitt Celebration" will take place at 7 p.m. today at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. Among the performers are trumpeter Ron Miles, the Super Secret Messengers, Laura Newman and AOA, the gamelan orchestra Tunas Mekar, Colin Bricker and Janet Feder. A donation of $10 is requested. Information: 303-744-6357.

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