There have been some exciting musical times in my short life including seeing Rachelle Ferrell twice in one night because she did not hit the high note in “With Open Arms” during the first show, meeting Shirley Horn, and having the film jam twice in my camera when I met Patti Austin for the first time (we finally got 6 shots from the 3rd roll of film.) There have been other memorable moments as well but nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced when I saw Lizz Wright perform Friday night at this year’s Monterey Jazz Festival.
I cannot find enough words to describe Lizz Wright. Her warmth, character, presence, spirituality, and love for the music she sings just eminates from her. Her beautiful and clear alto voice evokes thoughts of Oleta Adams and Sarah Vaughan but she definitely has a sound all her own. The highlight of the evening was an accapella version of “The Nearness of You”. The room was absolutely silent in anticipation of every note. Other notable songs included “Afro Blue”, “Nature Boy” and “Softly As The Morning Sunrise” and she also included a couple of her own compositions. Only 22 years old, the Georgia native grew up singing gospel and it is definitely reflected in her sound. Her band included a very energetic piano player, bass guitarist, and drummer who accompanied her well. I had the opportunity to speak with her briefly after her performance and all I could say was “God Bless You”, gave her a hug, and thanked her for sharing her wonderful gift.
She is already signed to Verve Records and her album should be out in Spring 2003. She has also sang on two tracks on Joe Sample’s current release, Pecan Tree which is also on Verve Records. I think you will definitely love her.