Rachel Witort’s presence can be deceptive. Young, soft hair, lovely voice, big eyes, quick to laugh, earnest, holding a ukelele, the strength of her presence when she sings can be surprising. But in Art or Evidence?, she’s the singer-songwriter yin to Victor DesRoches’s yang as they stand side by side at the mics. Strong, capable, and communicative in her music, she stands poised to launch even more fully into her musical life.
Rachel is an American Sign Language interpreter by profession, but a musician and songwriter every other spare moment of the day. With her Minor in Music from Fresno state, 15 years of piano experience, an expressive ukulele, and a lifetime of singing in choirs and musicals, Rachel is in the process of creating her first album.
You may see Rachel performing around town with Charis Calvert as “Wild Parsnips”, playing originals and covers. You’ll also find her swing dancing, going on runs, making art in her bullet journal, practicing kickboxing (occasionally), and sipping her favorite green tea.
Get a glimpse of Rachel’s work here.
In one word, describe your present condition.
In one sentence, what’s going on in your world?
I’m doing new things with new confidence.
With no restrictions on content or form, describe the present condition of your artistic outlook.
My artistic outlook right now is good, although sometimes maintaining work and social life alongside art is challenging.
Rachel and Charis did Rogue Festival last year for the first time. Tell us about your experience.
Last year, my first Rogue Festival experience was full of new activities. I had never played an original song to strangers, nor put together a full show, nor attended a fringe festival. From last year’s experience, I found that people whom I didn’t know, liked my songs and were interested in my performance. I also learned more about the local art scene in Fresno.
What does Art or Evidence bring to your creative life that you don’t get anywhere else?
Art or Evidence? is different than other parts of my creative life, because our group is very eclectic in ideas and in the members’ backgrounds. It pushes me to look for new concepts to include in my songwriting, and I’m learning how to promote mine and others’ art.
How would you describe Art or Evidence: Tea Liturgy in its present state?
Right now, Tea Liturgy is many parts in the process of being assembled into one whole.
What other creative or performance endeavors are you wrapped up in these days?
My other creative activities include working on producing my album and swing dancing.
What do you find exciting about the creative work you’re involved with right now?
Tea Liturgy is exciting, because I’m learning how to make a show alongside others, which is very similar to swing dance. You improve your own technique, but your connection with your partner/team is truly essential. I’m also excited about making my album, because I get to talk about personal, important topics in a creative and open way.
What makes a great audience for you?
A great audience is one that has an open mind and is excited to see the show.
What’s your vision for the next five years?
My vision for the next 5 years (artistically) is to have finished and produced my first album, have started a new album, do more local performances, and continue to swing dance.
What’s one thing you hope to find or experience at Rogue Festival this year?
At Rogue Fest this year, I hope to see a show that sparks some creative ideas. I also want to get to know the local art community and make some friends.
Art or Evidence?: Tea Liturgy runs during the Rogue Festival in Fresno’s Tower District.
Friday, March 1 — 8 pm, Sunday, March 3 — 3 pm, Friday, March 8 — 8:30 pm, Saturday, March 9 — 4:15 pm (added show), Saturday, March 9 — 6:45 pm
(Latecomers welcome. Runtime: 45 min)
Location: Fulton Street Art, 1118 N Fulton St, Fresno CA 93728 In the Tower District
Tickets: $7. Tickets online or at the door 30 minutes prior to showtime. www.roguefestival.ticketleap.com/tea-liturgy