Nancy Witt is the graceful and talented pianist at Billy’s Place, and also the Pink House on Tuesday nights. Although she’s comfortable in her corner of the world, she’s still very much well known among the good folks who call Savannah their hometown. Here, she talks about how her church has influenced her music, her dream gig in Savannah, and much more.
1. What are some of your earliest musical memories?
All I can remember is having a piano in the house and I wanted to play it. I loved everything about it. I didn’t listen to much piano music, though. I listened to pop music and country but my hobby was sitting at that piano and picking out songs. I still have that very piano I sat on as a baby. It is in my living room even today. I love it like my best friend.
2. Who are some of your musical influences?
First, I guess was the old church ladies playing stride piano to hymns. I copied them. Second was anything and everything I heard. If I heard it, I copied it. Period. I have had many teachers and mentors but truly everybody who played the piano or any music was my mentor. I copied everyone.
3. When, and how did you get into songwriting?
First time I ever fell in love probably. I wanted to write a song. First song I ever wrote went something like, “If I could be with the wind, I’d be a summer breeze … Blowing softly through the trees. Or if I could be with the clouds, I’d just float away … But I would bring to you a rainbow each day.” I think I was eleven years old. I like to express myself by talking, dancing, singing, laughing etc. Songwriting is just one of those ways.
4. How has Savannah influenced your songwriting?
Savannah is home. I love my city and having grown up here I often say everywhere I look there is a memory. I actually put that in a song, It went, “… Streets filled with memories.” Savannah has a little bit of everything but it has a true soul and spirit you can feel. Tourist feel it when they visit. It’s the kind of place you fall in love with, and it loves you back.
5. You also write jingles, do you have a favorite one? If so, what is it?
“Poor little kitties wanna play the piano with me!” Actually I wrote a version of “Jesus loves Me” that is sort of an “Island” version of it. It has become a standard in my church and people get it stuck in their head and sing it a lot. I’m not sure they even know I wrote it.
6. Have you ever wanted to collaborate with any other Savannah artist or musician but never had the chance to?
I don’t know many musicians so no one comes to mind. I grew up playing with a drummers so I miss that a lot. A good drummer makes my job a thousand times more fun. If Sting ever comes to town though, or Bocelli.
7. How did you link up with Billy’s Place?
Billy needed a piano player and gave me a call. It seemed to work out. I kind of fit in there and everyone has been so good to me. It feels like home.
8. How did you link up with the Pink House?
Word of mouth they heard about me and invited me to be a part of their entertainment. It’s such a fabulous place I was honored to be one of many exceptional musicians who have performed in the Tavern.
9. What are your thoughts on the current state of the Savannah music scene?
Savannah is the best place ever, we have the best musicians! I say my dream would be small stage performing venue. That would be fun. Have weekends filled with local musicians and talent doing shows. Something like 200 person seating more or less. Could be called, “Savannah Sounds Theater” If I were a rich man … Ya da da da da da da da da …
10. Do you have any upcoming projects, interests, or events you’d like to mention?
Not a darn thing. However, my fabulously talented, and amazing niece and Nephew (in law), CC and Pat with Lyn Avenue have big plans for next year and I am in awe of everything they have been able to do. Check them out. My biggest event I see in the future is one day being a grandma and teaching grand children to play the piano.