I met Elise Witt years ago when she came to Minneapolis to lead a singing workshop. In that afternoon together, I learned songs from her that I am still singing today. It was also the beginning of long, deep and inspiring friendship, fostered by my frequent visits to Atlanta. What a blessing that she lives in the same town as my brother and his family! We have sung a number of concerts together and always cherish the way our work – like our voices – intertwine.
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The idea that sound goes on forever, and that any sound we make is in the universe forever, is something to deeply consider in these controversial times.
I was born in Switzerland and came to the US at age 4. I was sent to a nursery school where all the children were communicating with each other in strange sounds that I had never heard.
Elise and the Global Village Project, along with Ecuadoran/New Orleans performance artist José Torres-Tama,are featured in this article for Public, a Journal of Imagining America, exploring higher education and public engagement.
For the past 40 years, Alternate ROOTS has been a champion of, and resource for, artists, cultural workers, and progressive movement builders in the southern United States. In this article, Nicole Gurgel interviews two longtime ROOTS members—Elise Witt and José Torres-Tama—and explores these artists’ responses to the global challenges the Deep South is facing.
In music, a tuning fork is a classic vibratory instrument providing true pitch, used as a guide to all other tonal relationships. In life, it is Elise Witt.
Born in Switzerland to survivors of Nazi Germany, raised in North Carolina, Elise makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia. Speaking fluent Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English and singing in more than a dozen languages, Elise’s passion for music and language has carried her around the nation and across the seas. “My work and my life are all about sound,” says the multi-instrumentalist and longtime member of the Children’s Music Network.
My song “Amoeba” won a Silver Award at the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, awarded by the Songwriters Association of Washington!
From the Archives at The Children’s Music Network: Thank You by Elise Witt. “Thank You” was written during a residency at Garden Hills Elementary School in Atlanta GA. My students spoke 40 different languages among them, and we all shared the way our culture says “thank you.”