Elise Witt
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Elise Witt


Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"Georgia Council for the Arts"

"Elise is a state treasure and we are so proud to be able to support her and her work." - Jan Selman, Chair

"The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts"

"A performer to remember with international savvy & personal charm" - Milennium Stage

"Lincoln Center, New York NY"

"A really delightful concert from the honey voiced Atlanta songwriter who sings the world." - Out of Doors Festival

"Sing Out!"

"This may be the most diverse, interesting album I have reviewed this year."
Vic Heyman
Review of "Open the Window"
CD by Elise Witt - The Folk Music Magazine

"Le Cri Du Coyote, France"

"Wide horizons and a repertoire that borrows from many countries with a spirit of universal humanism...
I have been through your CD, Love Being Here... I thought that Marlene Dietrich was back! You have a wide scope of songs, country, jazzy, with a nice and hot (if not sulfurous) cabaret songs with a voice which travels all the way through the spine and makes one dream and vibrate for hours! Congratulations!" - France

"Critics' Choice - Best of Atlanta 2006"

"Best Local Traditional Folk Act"
"To confine Elise Witt to the narrow realm of "traditional folk" would be a mistake. True, those are her roots, and she's careful not to lose sight of folk's long-standing role in social change. Her "Open the Window" is destined to become a new signature song for change, in fact. With Witt, the notion of song that's communal, rather than just performed by an artist, is important. But Witt's absorption of song traditions from across the world - what she describes as "global, local and homemade songs" - says more about what folk represents in the 21st century." - Creative Loafing

"The Community Review"

"Fun, playful, enjoyable, exciting, thought-provoking, and just plain old good music" - Atlanta GA

"The Chapel Hill News"

"Her excellence as a composer is evident in the original songs." - Bob Nowell

"LA News"

Atlanta-based Elise Witt isn’t content simply to write and sing songs; she wears her heart on her sleeve and tells us what she believes with every word, every intelligent note. You could say that about most folk singers, but I don’t know anyone before who has invoked philosopher-monk Thich Nat Hahn in an up-tempo contemplation on death (“Looking for Ways to Disappear” accompanied by L.A. Tuten’s electric bass and Bobby Lee Rogers’ slide guitar), or dared to improvise on a beautifully complex poem by Brazilian Carlos Schroeder (“Un Dia Antes”). Both appear on her ninth and newest CD, “Love Being Here.”
Anyone who listens closely to this CD will know by the end of the 15th and final song that Elise is an artistic adventurer, a musical romantic, a world traveler and linguist, thinker, mover and agent for change.  There’s a lovely edge to this collection, like falling over the cliff just to see what’s there. What Elise finds is all positive; she’s too much in love with life to ever sing the blues.
Compared with her past CDs, this one includes more jazz and world music and her classically-trained voice enjoys the challenge. Who can resist the line “I’d love to kiss your dancing toes” in Elise’s rendering of Peggy Lee’s “I Love Being Here with You” (yes, that Peggy Lee,) and her fun, tongue-twisting jazz duet with frequent collaborator Mick Kinney in his composition “You Got Me.” You have to hear Elise and Mick play with the lyrics to understand that the words rodeo yodeling, Mnemosene, and possum really do all belong in the same song.  Elise’s composition “You Know” is more jazz than folk too, with Jez Graham’s piano setting the pace.
The thoughtful organization of the material means that the classic jazz of Fats Waller’s “You’re My Dish” doesn’t sound out of place on the same CD as the familiar “Black Orpheus” theme and Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” which Elise strips down to its melodic essentials, (accompanied by Renato Pompilio on guitar) with none of Piaf’s affectations.
Elise seems most at home when singing in romance languages such as French and Spanish (the supremely romantic tango “Si Tu Supieras”), Portuguese and Italian (her own heart-felt “Una Nuova Armonia” and Enzo Fusco’s “Dicetencello Vuje” about a Cyrano de Bergerac-style courting custom). There’s German too. Her poignant rendering of “Singen Macht Alles Gut,” with Takana Miyamoto on piano, stands nicely on its own, but read the liner notes to get the full story – and more insight into why Elise sings. Here in the States we think of world music as something beyond U.S. borders, but Elise’s gentle composition “Mimosa Time” is a sweet reminder that the South, too, is its own country with music the world can enjoy.
A talented family of musicians joins Elise on this CD including Maurice Turner, Don Erdman (both superb on “I Love Being Here With You” and “You’re My Dish”), Scott Douglas, Beverly Botsford (exotic percussion), Daniel Brown, Rodger French and many others.
* Gillian Renault is a freelance writer who has written extensively about the performing arts for the Los Angeles News, the Herald Examiner, Dance Magazine, California Magazine, and many other outlets. She has hosted arts programs for KCRW radio (NPR affiliate) and Pacifica station KPFK, both in Los Angeles. - Gillian Renault

"School for International Training, Brattleboro VT (review in Spanish)"

Quiero expresar que me encanto mucho su musica. Fue un dia super
fantastico conocerles cuando pasaron el domingo pasado aqui en SIT en
Brattleboro. Tambien quiero agradecerles por mi experiencia de cantar las canciones con Uds. Creo
que su musica hace que la cultura latina cruza muchas fronteras con
otras. Voy a tocar el CD para mis
alumnos mañana en clase.
Muchisimas gracias!
(I would like to let you know that I was thoroughly enchanted by your music. It was a super fantastic day to get to know you this Sunday when you played at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. I would also like to thank you for the opportunity to join you in singing. I believe that music creates a bridge by which the Latin culture can be connected to so many other cultures. I will play your CD for my students in class tomorrow.
Many many thanks!) - SIT Spanish professor



VALISE © 2009
EMWorld Records
Known for her eclectic taste in music, her community activism, and her travels around the world, Elise's original songs include Clothes Swap (a funky ode to the virtues of re-cycling and girl gatherings), Set Us Free (inspired by the words of Reverend Timothy MacDonald at Martin Luther King Jr.'s 80th birthday celebration at the National Historic Site in Atlanta), Venus Between Us (a tribute to Soul Music), Ma Roulotte (a french gypsy jazz waltz, co-written with partner Mick Kinney), Butterfly's Mysteries (a scientific boogie, written at the Callaway Gardens Butterfly House), Verkehrte Welt (Crazy Mixed Up World, a German paradox poem à la Oh Suzanna), and Blessed Nation (original music by Elise Witt to a poem by folk icon Pete Seeger).

Songs on the CD contributed by other writers include the dreamy Singing in My Sleep (composed for Elise by Atlanta harpist Susan Ottzen), Jackie (a brief history of Bebop by Lambert, Hendrix & Ross), Maria Elena Walsh's Como La Cigarra (Like the Cicada - an Argentine anthem to the power of music for survival), Marlene Dietrich's I Still Have a Suitcase in Berlin, and a couple of wonderful duets with the inimitable Mick Kinney.

Musicians contributing to Elise WItt's VALISE include
Moira Smiley & VOCO http://www.moirasmiley.com/VOCO_main.html
Sol y Canto musicians Rosi & Brian Amador http://www.solycanto.com
The Rosin Sisters (Barbara Panter, Ann Whitley, Jan Smith) http://RosinSisters.com
R.I.S.E. artist Leah Smith http://www.myspace.com/RisingAppalachia.com
M.U.G.A.B.E.E. Carlton & Maurice Turner http://www.turnerworldaround.org
John McCutcheon http://www.folkmusic.com
Deidre McCalla http://www.DeidreMcCalla.com
Mick Kinney http://www.myspace.com/MickKinney
slam poet Theresa Davis http://www.theresa-davis.com/
Phyllis Free http://www.myspace.com/159956118
Cis Hinkle http://cis.hinkle.googlepages.com/
PLUS Susan Ottzen, Joyce & Jacque, Virginia Schenck, Kinah Boto, Mike Haid, Neal Starkey, Bill Burke, Ken Gregory, Frank Hamilton, Don Erdman, Jonny Hibbert, the Hotlanta Horns, Craig Rafuse...

Recycled bottles hold the CD in an eco-friendly digipak.
And the 16-page booklet has all the lyrics and translations (just like our old LPs), so you can sing along.

LOVE BEING HERE © 2003 EMWorld Records
Elise Witt with guest artists Mick Kinney (piano, vocals), Kasper “Stranger” Malone (clarinet), Don Erdman (tenor sax), Maurice Turner (trumpet), L.A. Tuten (bass), Kinah Boto (drums), Beverly Botsford (percussion), Renato Pompilio (guitar), Scott Douglas (‘mbira, kalimba), Jez Graham (piano), Bobby Lee Rogers (guitar, vocals), DeDe Vogt (bass, vocals), Johnny Mosier (guitar), Daniel Brown (cello, violin)
1) I Love Being Here With You (Peggy Lee & Bill Schluger)
2) You Know (Elise Witt)
3) Dicitencello Vuje / Tell Her (Enzo Fusco, Rodolfo Falvo)
4) Una Nuova Armonia / A New Harmony (Elise Witt)
5) Mimosa Time (Elise Witt)
6) The Farmer & The Gypsy (Elise Witt)
7) You Got Me (Mick Kinney)
8) Si Tú Supieras / If You Knew (Jorge Guitart / Mick Kinney)
9) Manhã de Carnaval (Antonio Maria, Luiz Bonfa)
10) La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaf, M. David Louiguy)
11) Un Día Antes / A Day Before (Carlos Schroeder, Elise Witt)
12) Looking for Ways to Disappear (Elise Witt)
13) Singen Macht Alles Gut (Adalberto von Chamisso, Elise Witt)
14) You’re My Dish (Harold Adamson, Jimmy McHugh)
15) Bonne Nuit (Good Night) Lullaby (Mick Kinney)

OPEN THE WINDOW© 1997 EMWorld Records
Elise Witt with guest artists Joyce Williams, Jacqueline Howard, Janna Nelson, Janet Metzger (vocals), DeDe Vogt (bass, vocals), L.A. Tuten (bass), Linda Bolley (drums), Don Erdman (tenor sax), Greg McLean (trumpet), Neal McElroy (trombone), Jeff Mosier (banjo), Johnny Mosier (guitar), Mark Van Allen (pedal steel), Rodger French (accordion), Scott Hooker (piano), David Marcus (piano, percussion, vocals), Fred Moss (clarinet, flute), Susan Ottzen (harp)
1) Spiral (Elise Witt)
2) Lake Song (Elise Witt)
3) My Dearest Wish (Elise Witt)
4) Thank You (Elise Witt)
5) Too Busy for the Blues (Elise Witt)
6) Natural Phenomena (Elise Witt)
7) Au Revoir Les Bateaux / Bye Bye Boats (Elise Witt)
8) Rufus Eddie (Elise Witt)
9) Everything & Nothing (Elise Witt)
10) 21st of June (Elise Witt)
11) Those Gorgeous Fishes (Elise Witt)
12) YRRIs / Why Are Our Eyes in the Front of our Heads? (Elise Witt)
13) Open the Window (Elise Witt, inspired by a Georgia Sea Islands Spiritual)

MEZZANINE© 1993 EMWorld Records
Elise Witt with guest artists Oteal Burbridge (bass), Jeff Sipe aka Apt. Q258 (percussion), Matt Mundy (mandolin), Mauricio Amaya (charango, zampoñas), David Marcus (guitar), Johnny Mosier (guitar), DeDe Vo



Singer-Guitarist ELISE WITT was born in Switzerland, raised in North Carolina, and since 1977 has made her home in Atlanta. She speaks fluent Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English and sings in at least a dozen languages. Among her ancestors, Elise claims "Wedding March" composer Felix Mendelssohn and his grandfather, Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn; Protestant cow farmers from northern Germany; Russian chemists; Polish intellectuals; French Bordeaux wine growers; a British painter; and a great great aunt from Cuba.
Since 1977, Elise has been working professionally as a Singer, Composer, Recording Artist, Educator, and Community Activist around the United States and the globe.
Elise has been a cultural ambassador to South Africa, China, Italy, Nicaragua, and Switzerland, and she has criscrossed the United States with her Global, Local & Homemade Songs™ - from New York's Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the People's Voice Café to festivals like Clearwater's Hudson River Revival, Falcon Ridge, the North Georgia Folk Festival, and the Marin County Fair in California; from Minneapolis' Gingko Coffeehouse to Nashville's Bluebird Cafe; and from the Open Door Commuunity to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change. For the Kennedy Center's 25th Anniversary Celebration, Elise represented the State of Georgia.
The Raleigh Times says, "Her performance is like a suitcase plastered with stickers from around the world… populated with interesting characters both heroic and comic." Elise's music is as colorful as her background. She has nine recordings on the EMWorld label, and is working on 3 new recordings. Her original songs have been used in several documentary films, and include the anthem "Open the Window" (inspired by a Georgia Sea Islands Spiritual), "Why Are Our Eyes in the Front of Our Heads?" (a capella jazz vocal ); "Those Gorgeous Fishes" (an ode to snorkeling); "Natural Phenomena" (a song about spiders, lynx, salmon, eel, and humans, sung to the tune of a Greek sirtaki); "That Silver Sliver of a Moon" (a celestial love song); the irreverant "Too Busy for the Blues"; and "Au Revoir Les Bateaux" (a bluesy bi-lingual tune). Elise has collaborated with a number of choirs and vocal ensembles as both composer and conductor. Many of her songs have are available as Choral Arrangements by Michael Holmes.
In addition to her own songs and songs by songwriter friends from around the United States, a concert also introduces audiences to Chilean songwriter Violeta Parra's moving love song to life "Return to Age Seventeen;" "The Time of Cherries" (an ancient and haunting French waltz); the spirited "Michelemmà" (from Italy's sunny South), as well as songs in Kiswahili, Japanese, Danish, Hebrew, English, and Sign Language.
Elise's training is as eclectic and varied as her music. She sang for 20 years with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus under the direction of choral master Robert Shaw, as well as in the Robert Shaw Singers, which was the Resident Choir at Spivey Hall, and performed annually at Carnegie Hall. Elise has studied with masters of improvisation Bobby McFerrin, David Darling (founder of Music for People), and is currently part of a 16-voice ensemble engaged in intensive study with master teacher and singer Rhiannon.
In addition to concert performances - solo; in duo with her partner Mick Kinney; or with her Mezzanine Band - Elise also works internationally as a Teaching Artist, conducting residencies in universities, colleges, middle, high, and elementary schools. Allied Arts in Milledgeville GA calls Elise "every residency director's dream." Elise uses singing to get students excited about language and intercultural dialogue, as well as writing songs with students about curriculum subjects.
Aside from quirky song titles and international flair, the real reason to go hear Elise Witt is her charismatic stage presence and her gorgeous voice. The Louisville KY Courier says, "Her straightforward charm and pure, strong voice are truly fine music to the ears." All of Elise's songs come straight from the heart. Her voice has the power to carry you to distant lands as well as inner landscapes. And by the end of a concert, it is not unusual to have the entire audience (self-professed "non-singers" included) to be singing in fabulous four-part harmony!

"A performer to remember with international savvy & personal charm"
-- The Kennedy Center    

"A really delightful concert from the honey voiced Atlanta songwriter who sings the world."
-- Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival

"Fun, playful, enjoyable, exciting, thought-provoking, and just plain old good music"
-- The Community Review    

"Wide horizons and a repertoire that borrows from many countries with a spirit of universal humanism"
-- Le Cri Du Coyote, France

Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, New York NY