"Global, Local & Homemade Songs™
"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
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 www.mindspring.com/~emworld/pages/choral.html.
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!
"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