3 quick questions . . .
with Alicia Witt
On Thursday, December 17, Alicia Witt will perform at The Hotel Café at 1623 North Cahuenga Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The show begins at 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. For those not familiar with Alicia Witt, Witt is an American singer-songwriter, pianist and actor.
While many might recognize her more from her work as an actress on such television shows as Friday Night Lights, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Two and a Half Men and Cybill or movies such as 88 Minutes and Mr. Holland’s Opus, she is a professional musician as well. Her songwriting and live performances have been compared to those of Billy Joel, Carole King and Elton John. Recently, Witt took a few moments to respond to our intimate inquiries.
Here are the three questions asked of Witt:
1. People no doubt recognize you as an actress. (In fact, I have a VHS copy of Mr. Holland’s Opus you could autograph sometime, believe it or not.) But what was your first paid gig in the music industry and how did it feel to be paid as a singer-songwriter/musician for the first time?
Witt: Well, my first paid gigs were as background pianist at various restaurants, lounges etc. That paid my bills starting at age 10 (classical piano lessons) through age 18 – by which point I was playing at the Beverly Wilshire 5 nights a week to pay my rent and everything while I worked at being an actor. In fact at the time I filmed Mr. Holland’s Opus I was still playing at the hotel to support myself.
But my first gig as a singer-songwriter- I think that was a tiny instrumental piece I wrote for the end credits of a movie I was in called Playing Mona Lisa. I still get minuscule ASCAP payments for it. At the time I wasn’t taking my writing too seriously yet- but I never get over the thrill of having my music used in movies or TV that I’m in.
My song “I’m Not Ready For Christmas” just became not only the theme of a Christmas movie I did, but also they titled the movie after the song- I was bouncing all over with glee at that.
2. Do you think being a woman in the music industry (as compared to acting) helps or hurts you and why?
Witt: It’s so hard for me to know since I have only had my experience as a woman. I think one assumption – which men probably experience in reverse – is that I sing songs that relate more to women, when I think in truth I might have more of a masculine kind of bent to my storytelling than many female singer songwriters do; but who knows!
The thing I’ve come across more is the assumption, being known more for acting, that I am not as much a musician; that I’m just trying this out as a hobby, when in fact I’ve been a musician just as long. It just took me longer to take it as seriously, to release music of my own, to play gigs and get brave enough to get over my nervousness about it.
3. What’s next for you?
Witt: I am about to start filming the second half of Season 4 on ABC’s Nashville, which is a dream come true in every way. I’m playing a successful singer who’s managed to cross over from country to pop during her 20 year career, and there will also be some romance as I understand. It’s not the first time I’ve played a singer or musician in an acting role, but it’s by far the most high profile, and the first time since I actually had a meaningful career.
I’m beyond words thrilled to have the chance to make music with these incredible artists and be a part of a show that I’ve watched and loved since the very beginning. I also have some exciting – very exciting – guest starring roles airing soon which I’m not allowed to mention just yet, but you’ll hear about them soon!
So there you have it, boys and girls, 3 quick answers from Alicia Witt. Hopefully, you found these 3 quick questions entertaining and interesting.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.