LIZZ WRIGHT / “Lizz Wright Mixtape”
Lizz Wright is an extraordinarily striking figure. An immediately recognizable and captivating voice. Her image is iconic—not blond, not light-skinned, not skinny—a serene figure, big, bold, black and beautiful. Unprocessed hair. No thongs, thigh high mini-skirts, nor lingerie masquerading as a fashion statement. She don’t drop it. Is more like your cousin from the country. The one who talks slow but doesn’t ever miss what’s really going down. Who doesn’t ever seem to be in a hurry but is always catching on faster than anyone else on the set. Who never made straight A’s but who never failed at anything. The pretty boys never noticed her, nor she them. But somehow, all the older men knew who she was. As did the older women too. She seemed to know things well beyond her years or her education. Is that why some call her “wise eyes”? Not surprisingly, she signifies “Hit The Ground” as one of her major songs. Lizz declares “It marks my journey from being raised in a church beneath the weight of heavy ideals and dogma, to learning about other musical perspectives.” She left Hahira, Georgia migrating to ATL. Lizz reveals, “I studied opera for a year at Georgia State University, but I wasn't interested in that meticulous, technical approach to music. So I left school and went back to jazz… Music is primal; when it's done without pretension, you can really feel the shape of someone's soul.” Born on January 22, 1980, Lizz joined the gospel ensemble In The Spirit in 2000 and that led to two major developments. One was a slot on the Billie Holiday Tribute program that included Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves. Don Heckman wrote in the Los Angeles Times about the 2003 show. He proclaimed, “Lizz Wright walked on stage at the Hollywood Bowl last summer a virtual unknown. Fifteen minutes later, she walked off a star.” The second major development was signing to Verve Records and the release of her debut album Salt in 2002, which won all kinds of critical acclaim. There have been two more albums since then, Dreaming Wide Awake (2005) and The Orchard (2007). None of those recordings bowled me over although all three were strong statements. What really got to me however were the broadcasts and bootlegs of her performances, mostly in Europe where jazz is broadcasted much more frequently than in the United States. Some of these recordings are no longer available as the sources come and go, so we at BoL share them with you. Today, I am a huge fan of Lizz’s serious singing. Lizz Wright is both an antidote and an authentic alternative to the blahs that the commercial music industry attempts to pass off as serious music. Hopefully, after you check out these songs taken from three different concerts, you will join me in embracing this meditative music. —Kalamu ya Salaam Lizz Wright Mixtape Playlist The first four selections are from a WXPN radio broadcast of a daytime concert at the World Café in Philadelpia. 01 Band Introductions 02 “When I Fall” 03 “Thank You” 04 “Hey Mann” Tracks five and six are from a concert in Switzerland. Marvin Sewell is featured on guitar. 05 “Blue Rose” 06 “Dreaming Wide Awake” The last nine songs are from a October 29, 2008 concert at the Paradiso venue in Amsterdam. 07 “My Heart” 08 “Stop” 09 “Walk With Me” 10 “Hit The Ground” 11 “Leave Me Standing” 12 “Speak Your Heart” 13 “Peace Flows” 14 “Salt” 15 “MIA”
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