Lizz Wright

Harlem EatUp! : Lizz Wright

Lizz Wright was born in the small town of Hahira, Georgia. Her father was a minister and her mother sang in the services. As a child, she began playing piano and singing in church with her two siblings. In high school, she broadened her musical horizons by studying choral music, performing with groups of various sizes and winning several regional and national awards.

Wright subsequently studied voice at Georgia State University in Atlanta. . "My major was music performance; I only did one year. There wasn't a vocal jazz program and I didn't want to do classical. On the side, I would work with small jazz combos so I could learn standards.”

In the summer of '98, Lizz relocated 200 miles south to Macon. It was a turning point. "I figured out what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it. I would drive two hours several nights a week to Atlanta just to sit and hear some jazz. After a bit, I was sitting in at jam sessions." It was at a jam session in 1999 that Wright was “discovered” and invited to join the Atlanta band, In the Spirit. Within a year’s time, Creative Loafing, Atlanta’s alternative newspaper, anointed In the Spirit the best jazz group in Atlanta and said of Lizz Wright: “Wright is truly a singer’s singer. . . She has it all.”

Her debut album, Salt (2003), introduced Wright as both an accomplished songwriter and an effortlessly magnetic performer, delivering subtly persuasive performances in understated jazz/R&B settings. Salt won international acclaim and was praised by The New York Times' Stephen Holden, who wrote that Wright's "astonishing maturity and poise stirs jazz, gospel and rhythm and blues into a reflective, flowing style that elongates songs into prayerful meditations...," and described her singing as "pitch­perfect, with a smoky, full­bodied texture... impressive in its steadiness, control and rhythmic subtlety."

Dreaming Wide Awake followed in 2005, expanding Wright's interpretive range on a broad array of material ranging from Fats Waller to Neil Young and reached the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart. Her third release, The Orchard (2008), was largely self­penned as she continued to mine her own experiences to create an unmistakably personal musical statement.

Wright’s newest recording, Fellowship, (2010) continues her genre­defying journey, a nod to her roots in gospel on the one hand and her gospel of eclecticism on the other.


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