Lizz Wright has been the recipient of nonstop critical acclaim and ever-increasing audiences ever since her Verve debut. Like so many vocal greats, Lizz began her singing in the church. For her it was a small church in Hahira, Georgia where her father served as musical director and where she soaked up the sounds of songs of faith. She was also surrounded by varied types of secular music at home especially jazz and soul. Wright moved to Atlanta in the late 90s to attend Georgia State University and began singing classical repertoire under Dr. Dwight Coleman. She also began singing jazz, both solo and as part of the popular local group In The Spirit. She made a name for herself in other parts of the country in 2002 as part of a touring concert tribute to Billie Holiday, where her poised, emotive performance stole the show.
A year later Wright was signed by Verve Records and worked with legendary jazz producer Tommy LiPuma on her debut album, Salt. It topped the contemporary jazz charts and became one of the most acclaimed albums of 2003, mixing standards with new material and styles ranging from Gospel to Soul to Jazz to Blues with ease. And her clear, deep voice and mature phrasing certainly belied her age (then 23).
Following Salt, Dreaming was both a critical and commercial success, and paved the way for 2008’s The Orchard, another excellent CD that paired Wright with with producer Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson, KD Lang, Norah Jones). It was followed byFellowship, a more inspirational-focused released.
Over her four albums, Lizz Wright has demonstrated that she is a top notch songwriter and also has the interpretive skills to become a premier popular song stylist. She is a complete artist who has both talent and musical instincts well beyond her young age, and one whom I hope will continue to stretch her boundaries in the years to come. I believe she will and that twenty years from now we will be talking about Lizz Wright as one of the great popular singers of her generation.
In December 2016, Wright returned to the recording studio with renowned Americana producer Joe Henry for her much anticipated sophomore album with Concord Records. Her sixth full-length studio album summons her Southern heritage and the spirit of the earth for a standout collection of new songs to be released in September 2017.
Photo Credit: Jesse Kitt