Writer, musician, photographer, and graphic artist Patti Witten has lived in Ithaca, NY, since college. Originally from Connecticut, and classicly trained on violin and flute, she pursued a strong interest in acoustic guitar and alternate tunings as a self-taught player. In the early 1980s, she took master classes with Oregon band members Ralph Towner and Paul McCandless, but preferred the role of a "sideman" in local bands.
Patti quit music in 1990 after the sudden death of her first husband and worked as a graphic artist and illustrator. Nearly a decade later the hiatus ended when a homemade audition tape earned her a place in Rosanne Cash's coveted songwriting workshops in upstate New York.
Inspired by the workshops, Patti's catalog grew quickly. No fewer than ten songs from her 1999 debut, Land Of Souvenirs, won numerous awards including Grand Prize in the Great American Song Contest. Working with longtime collaborator and producer Rich DePaolo, Patti went on to release a six-song EP named for their band, Prairie Doll, in 2000, followed by Sycamore Tryst in 2003.
Cash contributed liner notes for Sycamore Tryst, saying, "I was struck from the first verse I ever heard her play. She is a gifted, original songwriter who delivers her songs with a clarity and strength that are quite rare."
Along with reviews in Paste, Sing Out! and Dutch pop music magazine Heaven, Sycamore Tryst earned an Editor's DIY pick from Performing Songwriter plus a Spotlight DIY feature. Tracks were selected for compilations, notably Artists For Literacy’s benefit CD Songs Inspired By Literature Chapter Two alongside cuts from Steve Earle, Rosanne Cash, and Tom Waits. Sycamore Tryst was also a local Best Contemporary Folk CD of the Year, a Top 5 of 2003 for Indie Acoustic Project, and tracks were added nationwide on community and college radio, in Europe, and they’re still played on XM's "The Loft" and "The Village."
Patti's third full-length solo album, Tell The Wind, earned a Top 12 DIY review in Performing Songwriter magazine, Outstanding Achievement In Songwriting Award from the Great American Song Contest, a Songs of Note Award from the Indie Acoustic Project Contest, 4 stars from Maverick magazine in the UK, and a "Jimmie" award for Best CD of 2006 from the Ithaca Journal.
All told, Patti's songs have earned more than thirty honors and awards from a list of international and regional competitions, and have appeared in several network TV shows and independent films. Patti has showcased at the Durango Songwriters Expo and special events during SXSW in Austin, TX, the Americana Music Association conference in Nashville, regional Folk Alliance conferences -- and she often gives thoughtful and thought-provoking radio interviews. Find her CDs and downloads at CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes.
Other projects and activities:
Host, Water Street Songwriters Group (since 1997)
Eckerd College Writers in Paradise Conference (2018, 2020)
Richard Thompson's Frets and Refrains (2014, 2015, 2016)
Only Joni Open Mics, Ithaca NY
Joni Mitchell Tribute Concerts, Ithaca NY
Moxie (mythic-Ithaca 80s acoustic R&B band with Eric Seidler, Don Karr, Dee Specker, Shauna Guidici and a host of locals)
Lorelei (with Joanna Green and Jody Kessler)