Wright By Her Roots

Well, hell, the book’s only been out three days, and I’m already finding artists who’d be stellar candidates for a part two. Lizz Wright is one of them. I interviewed her for an unrelated feature article, but the RBHR threads in our conversation were unmistakable. Born into the United Holiness Church with a minister father, she grew up in small-town Georgia singing gospel, and only gospel. And yet, over the course of several albums she’s come to be known as a singer and songwriter of sophisticated yet rootsy blues, soul and jazz with decidedly nonsectarian—what I’d call open-armed—spiritual sensibilities. Then, last year she made her very first, and very fine, gospel album called Fellowship; it’s her version of gospel, blending her strong church roots with the everywhere-but-church spirituality of Hendrix, Clapton, Meshell Ndegeocello, and even Gladys Knight and the Pips. Wright saw the album as a way to let her family know that even though she’s come to look at the world differently than them, she gets what’s so valuable about the musical-spiritual heritage they share. You could say she needed some space to flesh out her own thing before she could go back there on her terms.

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About Jewly Hight

Jewly Hight has written about popular music for more than a dozen outlets, including Nashville Public Radio, American Songwriter, Relix and The Nashville Scene. Born in North Carolina and raised on both coasts of Florida--the domain of manatees, sea turtles, airboats and alligators--she now lives in Nashville in an 112-year old, mint green house with her husband, their energetic dog and their 1975 Rodgers drum kit. She has a master's from Vanderbilt University Divinity School and happens to be an avid clogger. Right By Her Roots is her first book.
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