Formed in June 2004, Pruitt Igoe's name comes from an infamous public-housing project that once existed in St. Louis. As a child, poet/artist, co-founder Ted Washington walked past Pruitt-Igoe on his way to school. This marvel in architecture turned into a crime-plagued ghetto that even the poor wouldn't live in. After spending more than $5 million in vain, the St. Louis Housing Authority and later the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development declared Pruitt-Igoe unsalvageable and razed the mammoth, high-rise apartments.
Co-founded by Washington with local native Jon Cordova (guitar), the band has included players such as Molly Wilmot (aka Molly Whittaker, mezzo-soprano), Matthew Kerr (keyboards and samples), Chad Farran (percussion and flute), and Coco Campbell (dance), as well as collaborators Jay Hoffman, Harold Todd, and Andy Geib. The members draw from their backgrounds in classical music, jazz, funk, ambient grooves, opera, rock, electronica, poetry, dance, theater, metal, and world beats.
Washington says the group evolved "from combining the acts that I had working at the time. Before, it was always Ted Washington with 'fill in the blank.' I had a gig at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood and had all the different components set up. While I stayed onstage, everyone else would come up, play their part, and leave. Then the next person would come up. It was a circus of activity and lacked an overall cohesion. That's when I knew it had to change, so Pruitt Igoe was born."
Their debut CD was the Pruitt Igoe EP. They have performed at the San Diego Museum of Art, Sushi Visual and Performance Art, Galerie D'Art International, the Casbah, Winston's, Kava Lounge, and Capricorn Studios in San Diego; The Knitting Factory and the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Hollywood; and Bill's Place in Harlem, New York City. They've been awarded a grant from the Synergy Arts Foundation and have appeared on The Illfonics Show on KSDS-FM Jazz 88.3, The Local Pyle 94.9 FM with Tim Pyles, and Big Sonic Chill on 94.9 FM in San Diego.
As of 2019, the band had distilled down to a trio featuring Ted Washington (vocals, synthesizer), Jon Cordova (guitar), and Krista Coppedge (trumpet, synthesizer), a Jacksonville Beach, FL, transplant who moved to San Diego in 2010 to surf and start her piano tuning business. According to their bio, "The band fuses spoken word, jazz, electronica and various music genres to create an emotive landscape for poetry that explores issues of love, drugs, nihilism and socio-economic casting."
Washington has also been a bouncer at Winston's in OB, as well as founding Puna Press, which publishes poetry and art by local creators.