Spotlight: Alicia Witt

Spotlight: Alicia Witt

5 Episodes

Alicia Witt is a classically trained musician with a three-decades long acting career.
Follow along as she walks us through her process of songwriting and write your own song!

Years before kicking off her career as an indie-pop songwriter, a seven year-old Alicia Witt took her first classical piano lesson. She landed her debut movie role that same year, appearing in David Lynch's sci-fi epic Dune. Decades later, Witt has built both passions into a thriving business, balancing an acclaimed string of movie, television, and stage appearances with solo records like 2018's 15,000 Days.

Her fourth release as an independent songwriter, 15,000 Days is a sweeping, big-hearted record, its songs rooted in modern arrangements and timeless melodies. Witt wrote the material during a busy period that found her starring in the TV series Nashville, stealing the spotlight with an appearance on The Walking Dead, and playing shows — including a performance on the Grand Ole Opry — in the wake of her previous album, Revisionary History.

She had recorded Revisionary History with producer, songwriter and fellow piano-pounder Ben Folds, resulting in a collection of vintage-inspired songs that looked to the past for inspiration. Outlets like NPR Weekend Edition and the Nashville Scene loved it, with the latter publication calling the album "piano-pop gem that sounds by turns like 'Grey Seal'-era Elton John, an alt-universe Fiona Apple and a film-noir chanteuse notching her nights in cigarette burns on the fallboard." Building on that, with the 15,000 Days EP she sources her influences from the contemporary world, working with producer Jacquire King (Kings Of Leon, Tom Waits) along the way.

As its title suggests, 15,000 Days is a record about time — specifically, the number of days and life lessons that all led to Witt's full discovery of her musical voice. During the years following her introductory piano lesson at age seven, she became a childhood prodigy, tackling the works of Baroque composers, Romantic-era pianists, and other classical bigwigs before she was old enough to drive. When she moved from her Massachusetts hometown to Los Angeles as a teenager, she supported herself with a recurring gig at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where her repertoire also included show tunes, big band numbers, and pop standards from her parents' era. The experience felt like an education in the best music of the past, giving Witt a steady foundation upon which to build her own songs. Meanwhile, her acting career flourished, as well, with Witt appearing in Twin Peaks, winning an award for her appearance in the Sundance-approved "Fun," playing a woodwind in the musical film "Mr. Holland's Opus," and enjoying a multi-year run in the TV series Cybil.
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Spotlight: Alicia Witt