Three Reviews of

by Elise Witt
on EMWorld Records ©2003 (EMW-1009)
Review by Gillian Renault*

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.

Love Being Here
Elise Witt EMW-1009
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by Allen Price (

One of the joys of reviewing music is the opportunity to find artists and music which would never have otherwise blipped your radar screen. It remains a longstanding truism that some of our finest artists and not well known in the general population. Such is the case with Elise Witt.

Swiss-born, Elise Witt makes her home in Atlanta. She speaks five languages fluently and sings more than twice that many. She has performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to South Africa. Her music is as eclectic as her background, Love Being Here being her ninth album.

Many of her songs are sung in languages other English, reflecting their origin or inspiration. This is presented simply, even matter-of factly. In her liner notes, all lyrics are presented, with English translations for most of the non-English songs. These are mostly unnecessary thanks to Elise''s ability to communicate music in a manner that transcends language.

The title comes from the opening song, a Peggy Lee classic. Elise does the song justice, giving it a swinging, jazzy piano-based take which would give even Peggy tapping her toe and snapping her fingers.

Record shop owners would have a hard time figuring out where to place this CD. It is jazzy, but rootsy. It is classic, yet contemporary. It is international, but deeply personal. It would be best to create a new category: "Damn Fine Music."

Copyright 2004, Peterborough Folk Music Society. This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.  

Love Being Here
EMWorld 1009
A Revie
w by Vic Heyman, "Sing Out!" magazine

Atlanta based Elise Witt takes her time between albums, her last being the sterling "Open The Window" in 1997. There are good reasons for that. She carefully hones each song, whether sung in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, or German. More than half of the 15 cuts are her own composition, while others are from her international repertoire like "La Vie en Rose," a Brazilian move theme, an Italian song, or a Cuban tango. Some are jazzy, some are smoky, some are solo while others have strong supporting vocals.
The instrumental accompaniment is as rich and diverse as the vocals, styles and lyrics. Piano, accordion, guitar, drum kit, tenor sax, congas, acoustic bass, trumpet, kalimba, 'mbira, and a host of other instruments appear as needed and then fade away. Never overpowering, they are as subtle seasoning in a good stew.

Elise's alto voice is clear and charming, her lyrics are enunciated with crystal clarity. Frequently there is a playful character to her vocals, as if there were subtle jokes hidden away for the audience to find them. She carefully delivers each song, never overpowering the song.

Elise spends most of her time educating students from Kindergarten to college. I suspect she spends most of the rest of her time educating her audiences on how diverse one performer can be in delivering an evenings entertainment. Recommended!

Vic Heyman
"Sing Out!" magazine
Spring 2004

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