Lilli Lewis debuted “My American Heart” from her eagerly anticipated upcoming “Americana” album at The Kennedy Center’s “Voices of America” show in October, 2020, introduced by poet iCon as “a powerhouse performer adding her unique voice and talent to the national discussion of the state of social justice in America.”
The Americana soul artist and activist Lilli Lewis, known as the Folk Rock Diva, ushered in 2020 curating Folk Alliance International’s Louisiana Red Hot Records Roots & Rhythm Showcase as Label Manager and A&R Head, and is spearheading FAI’s new “Committing to Conversation” cultural equity, race and social justice initiative.
“Even when we don’t agree we’re still responsible for each other and the world we live in,” Lewis says. “We are living in deeply divided times where connection matters. Musicians have the ability to help people relate to one another now more than ever.”
In March, Lewis literally brought down the house at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s “Chanteuse: Celebrating New Orleans Women in Music” https://www.jazzandheritage.org, — the show was the Foundation’s last before Louisiana’s statewide shutdown.
Trained as opera singer and classical pianist, Lewis has been a composer, producer and performing artist for over two decades. After spending two decades carving out space for herself as an African-American lesbian of size, Lewis is lending her voice to the music industry’s need to diversify its precepts.
She was a featured panelist in Americana Music Association’s “Black Equity in Americana: A Conversation” livestream in August, covered by Billboard, Rolling Stone and American Songwriter: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanaMusicAssociation.
“Black artists and black art have been at the heart of Americana since its inception, and now we’re in a position to address what this means from a relatively new point of view,” Lewis said. “It’s as if we’re being invited to celebrate the reality of the genre and its participants in a more overt and direct way.”
Lewis has composed in every tradition inspires her, including soul, Americana, classical, folk, jazz, rock, gospel, blues, soul and R&B. Lewis integrated elements of New Orleans funk while singing lead for Dirty Dozen Brass Band founding member Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove.
“If Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Odetta had had a baby, and that baby had had a baby, and that baby had had another baby… well that baby would probably be me,” she describes.
Lewis has two recent critically acclaimed releases on Louisiana Red Hot
Records, the 2018 solo piano album “The Henderson Sessions,” and 2019’s Lilli Lewis Project’s We Belong.”
Ushering Louisiana Red Hot Records to OffBeat Magazine’s “Record Label of the Year” three times, Lewis is also Chief Operating Officer for Marketing, Merchandising and Distribution firm, SunRea Enterprises, LLC. She often serves as a music industry panelist, production consultant, and advocate for diversity in the community.
In August, Lewis released a single she co-wrote, co-produced and performed — the “Mask Up” anthem for the #MaskUpCovidDown campaign from Louisiana Red Hot Records and WHIV-FM. The effort benefits Masks for America’s giveaway of free N-95 masks to first responders.
Lewis not only has a hotly anticipated album release on the horizon, but has been commissioned by Loyola University’s Opera Workshop to contribute 12 original compositions for a cycle of micro-arias entitled “Cura Personalis.” As always — stay tuned.