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 just released Valise, her 11th recording on the EMWorld label, http://www.mindspring.com/~emworld/pages/record.html and two other recordings are in the progress. 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 ); "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).
Elise has collaborated with many choirs and vocal ensembles as both composer and conductor. Ten of her songs are currently available as Choral Arrangements by Michael Holmes, and more are in the works. http://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 Argentine songwriter Maria Elena Walsh's moving "Como La Cigarra/Like the Cicada" about the power of singing for survival; "Ich Hab' Noch Einen Koffer in Berlin / I Still Have a Suitcase in Berlin" first made famous by Marlene Dietrich; 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 http://www.bobbymcferrin.com, David Darling http://www.mfp.org, and for the year 2008 was part of a 16-voice international ensemble engaged in intensive study with master teacher and singer Rhiannon http://www.rhiannonmusic.com. 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.
Elise also teaches adult community singing classes in Atlanta, and community singing workshops on tour. Elise says, "So many people in this western culture have had someone at some point tell them they are "unmusical," "tone deaf," or some other deflating and demoralizing comment/criticism. That is the reason I teach my classes - because I just don't believe that anyone can't sing. We are all born singing, and in cultures before this busy, hectic, modern one, singing was the main way we had of communicating and remembering our stories.
We sang babies into the world, sang to celebrate marriages and festive occasions, sang our grief, and sang to accompany someone to the next life. We need to sing and we love to sing. Singing vibrates our bodies and brings healing and joy. We all need to sing - as individuals and as community!" Her current workshops include Singing for Fun / Glorious Impromptu Chorus / Vocal Improvisation / and Harmony: A World View http://www.mindspring.com/~emworld/pages/classes.html 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 multi-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 Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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