Vocalist Lizz Wright, who will perform at Penn State for the first time, brings vibrancy to compositions by some of the greatest American songwriters. From her debut album Salt to her latest release, Grace, Wright earns acclaim as one of the most venerable singers of her generation.
On Grace, the singer summons her Georgia heritage to explore the web of story and song that bind together the many traditions at the soul of the American South. The album’s landscape brims with Wright’s interpretations of classic and contemporary songs by Ray Charles, Allen Toussaint, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, k.d. lang, Bob Dylan, Frank Perkins, Mitchell Parish, Rose Cousins, and Birds of Chicago.
“On her sixth album, Grace, Wright translates with phenomenal fluency between inner awareness and outward demonstration, individual seeking and conscious communion, ecstasy and empathy,” writes an NPR reviewer.
Through an inimitable voice that a New York Times reviewer describes as “a smooth, dark alto possessed of qualities you might associate with barrel-aged bourbon or butter-soft leather,” Wright sings with a soaring reflection of the cultural fabric of America.
Gospel was the bedrock of Wright’s musical education. She was once the music director of a small church for which her father was pastor. Later, at Georgia State University in Atlanta, she sang classical repertoire. At The New School in New York City, she studied jazz and spirituals. On her own, she explored folk music and the Great American Songbook. Her accumulated learning has fostered a keen interest in developing her own voice across diverse genres.
In concert at Penn State, Wright will be backed by her band, which features pianist/organist Kenny Banks, guitarist Chris Bruce, bassist Ben Zwerin, and drummer Jack DeBoe.
Artistic Viewpoints will not be offered before this concert.
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Mimi Barash Coppersmith
support provided by
Glenn and Nancy Gamble Endowment
Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support for engagement programming related to this performance.
This event is part of a season-long focus, The American Experience: Through an African-American Lens.