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.


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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