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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 04
Lizz Wright returns to her Seattle home
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Lizz Wright returns to her Seattle home

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

If you don't recognize her by name, you might by face. That's because Lizz Wright once shopped at the same grocery stores, grabbed a latte at the same coffeeshops, took in a late showing at the same movie theaters, and probably put away a three-star pad thai at the exact table you were just at. The accomplished jazz-soul-gospel artist is a former resident of Seattle's Capitol Hill district, a place she visits now every couple of years due to her North Carolina relocation and a demanding schedule of recording sessions and national tours. Wright released her fourth studio album, Fellowship, in 2010 and will include selections from it on her upcoming road outing, returning the singer-songwriter to Seattle for a one-night performance at The Triple Door (www.thetripledoor.net) on February 1. I caught up with Lizz Wright this week by phone and here's what we chatted about inside The Music Lounge.

Albert Rodriguez: How long has it been since you were in Seattle?

Lizz Wright: I think it was when I was at Jazz Alley last, about two years now. I remember going to the Greek food festival.

Rodriguez: Aside from the Greek food festival, do you have any fond memories of Seattle?

Wright: Oh yeah, I lived on Capitol Hill just up from the Arboretum. I toured a lot; in the year I lived there, I did maybe over 180 shows, so when I got home I always thought I was on vacation. I would leave my bags in the apartment, walk down to the Arboretum, and I'd be in the woods in like 20 minutes. Café Flora is one of my favorite restaurants and there's a wonderful little tchotchke shop down there, Last-Minute something, across the street. I have lots of favorite little nooks in Seattle.

Rodriguez: Have you considered moving back?

Wright: No, but I am so thankful for my time there because I realize that I love the mountains. Some people need to be near the sea and they'll do almost anything to be near the sea, and I feel that way about mountains. With all the traveling that I do, they help ground me and get comfortable very quickly.

Rodriguez: Tell me about your show at The Triple Door. Will you have a full band? What will your set list be like?

Wright: I'll have a full band with me. I'm going to do a lot of music from Fellowship. I've really enjoyed singing gospel since it came out and I'll do songs from all my records and some stuff I haven't recorded. It'll be a good mix of things, but it will focus on Fellowship since I haven't been to Seattle since I released it.

Rodriguez: Gay men and women tend to shy away from gospel music because it rejects our lifestyle and culture. Now that you're part of this musical community, do you feel it's actually more open than we think it is?

Wright: I can't speak for the church and their feelings about homosexuality or any of that. I just know that my intention is to be an element of nature. What I do and the sacredness of it is definitely open to all, and I celebrate it with anyone who wants to be in it, and I've never had a problem with it. I certainly grew up in a church where we were taught that that wasn't the way, but I've been out in the world on my own for a long time, and I've connected to and learned from so many people that I just have to focus my eyes on the undercurrent that connects all of us and brings us back to that place. That's all I can really speak for.

Rodriguez: Those who've attended your live shows know how diverse your audience is - you have Gay male couples and Lesbian couples out in the crowd.

Wright: I'm very happy that people who usually wouldn't be together are together to hear me sing. It makes me excited.

Rodriguez: What do you recommend to anyone pursuing a career in music?

Wright: It's important to learn as much as you can about the business, but even before that it's important to learn yourself as you would learn an instrument or a vehicle. Because you have to know what turns you on, what turns you off, inspires you, moves you, heals you, and brings you back. By the time you get in the business you really need to have all that stuff in place to know how to take care of yourself, so you can be prolific, excited, and joyful no matter what happens in the business or doesn't happen.

Rodriguez: What can we expect from Lizz Wright in 2011?

Wright: More music, probably another record - I'm looking to make another one soon - and lots of my shows.

Rodriguez: I remember you looking fabulous on stage. How do you decide what to bring or not bring with you on tour?

Wright: I'm such a feeling person, I literally stand in front of the closet and grab a range of things that express where I'm at in my life.

Rodriguez: How often do you replenish your wardrobe with new clothes?

Wright: Not as often as I should. There are a couple of reasons for that, one is that I really don't like shopping a whole lot, but the other reason is because I really love the things my friends make for me - I have a girlfriend in Ohio named Agape and she has a line of clothes called Goddess Wear and she makes the best stuff for me. It's the sturdiest, best-fitting stuff I've ever had, and she just can't work fast enough.

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