Atlanta Life and Culture

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Jazz singer Lizz Wright draws influence from Georgia, Ella Fitzgerald and more

Among Georgia’s long list of musical contributions is Lizz Wright. Throughout her career, the soulful jazz singer hailing from Hahira, Georgia has been praised for her vocal depth and agility.

On Dec. 7, she will return to the state for a sold-out show at City Winery before retreating to California to begin recording her sixth album, scheduled for a 2017 release.

Wright, who now lives in Asheville, North Carolina, said the upcoming album began as a reflection of her time in the South, but grew into a project about her current perspective on America.

Still, Wright’s upbringing in Georgia is still has a major influence on her art.

“It’s where I cut my teeth in music,” she said, citing her time studying music at Georgia State University and performing at former jazz club Churchill Grounds. “There’s a relationship with rhythm [in Georgia music] that can be traced to how we live and how we interact with one another.”

The last few months have been hectic for Wright, who returned from touring in Europe just before Thanksgiving. Prior to that, she recorded a centennial tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and posted it on her Facebook page. The video, in which Wright performs “The Nearness of You,” has been watched more than one million times. She also participated in “100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella” alongside Patti Austin, Andra Day and David Alan Grier.

“What tickled me was that that song is like the second jazz standard I learned and that that pianist is the first pianist I ever played with,” Wright said of “The Nearness of You.” “We have done that song so many times, and I was literally standing in a living room and just decided to do this little thing.”

She said the fact that the familiar song resonated with people on that level speaks to the power of Fitzgerald’s music.

Wright’s City Winery show will consist of music from the singer’s previously released projects, songs popularized by Fitzgerald, as well as a sample of what’s to come from her in 2017.

“I’m excited to come home, this time because I feel like the people have an opportunity to send me back to the studio with their blessings,” she said. “This winter I’m really busy building all of the things I want to launch when the sun comes back out.”

Join the wait list for Wright's City Winery show here.

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About the Author

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native, Georgia State University graduate and entertainment reporter. She typically covers local events.