Lizz Wright has been charming music fans worldwide ever since she appeared on the late pianist and composer Joe Sample’s 2002 disc, ‘The Pecan Tree’ (Verve). The following year, she gained even wider recognition for her critically acclaimed debut record, ‘Salt’ (Verve). Produced by the legendary Tommy LiPuma – best known for his award-winning work with George Benson, Diana Krall, and Natalie Cole – the album helped introduce one of the most captivating female vocalists of her generation as it raced to number two on Billboard’s “Top Contemporary Jazz” chart.
Lizz was born in the small town of Hahira, Georgia. A preacher’s kid, she sang during most services, and it is there, deep in the joy of ministry, that one can find the roots of the voice and spirit that so captivates listeners. With peculiar focus, she seamlessly weaves through the genres of gospel, jazz, folk, pop, and blues, handling them like colours on a palette. Ultimately, it is the voice, the stories told and the call to connect that transcend categorisation and stir her audiences.
‘Grace’ is her sixth album, produced by Joe Henry, it captures her in the act of lovingly shoring up her relationship with the Southern hamlets and resilient inhabitants that shaped her at a moment of great social and political tumult. She spends the exquisite 10-song collection creating generous space rather than offering commentary.
In breaking with her personal practice of composing the title track on her records, "Grace" was written by Rose Cousins, and given the royal Wright treatment, the choir returning for an encore. Wright contributes her romantic magic on the standard "Stars Fell On Alabama," while Bob Dylan’s "Every Grain of Sand" is transported to a place where poetry, country and blues melt into the setting sun. There is an undercurrent of sensuality evident in Wright's voice, which she can conjure up at will, as she does on "Wash Me Clean," a k.d. lang ballad, converted into a soulful yearning moan. She co-wrote "All The Way Here," with Maia Sharp, a biographical tale of coming to terms with where she's been and what she has become, as the album comes to an end.
There are few singers that are comfortable in a variety of styles while maintaining individuality and quality in the process. Lizz Wright can take any song into another dimension, yet she chooses with care as she is a firm believer in song as a means of message and hope. Her voice has a kind and tender quality that is evidence of her engagement with life on the higher spiritual plane from which she sings.