"the most mesmerizing and soul touching combination of jazz, blues, gospel, and field folk imaginable. The audience went fn nuts." - Middleton O'Malley, Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
ABOUT LILLI LEWIS
Who Is Lilli Lewis?“Most slept on black folk singer. I listen to her when I want to be high on my soul.” - Youtube Listener
Before 2020's live music scene ground to a halt, Lilli Lewis and her quintet The Lilli Lewis Project brought down the house at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation's "Chanteuse: Celebrating New Orleans Women in Music” in one of the last concerts before the statewide stay at home order.
"At the moment, we are living in deeply divided times where connection matters," Lewis says. "Musicians have the ability to help people relate to one another now, more than ever." Lewis’ genre-bending music is mesmerizing, with the binding agent being her singular voice of rare grace and grit. The music she makes is driven by a desire to embolden listeners to reach inside and discover the super-powers embedded in their most vulnerable places.
Performing her layered and multi-hued music, Lewis has spent two decades carving out space for herself as an African-American lesbian of size in an industry just now catching up to diversifying its precepts about looks, sexuality and marketability. She has continually reinvented her sound, composing and performing inside, outside and around every tradition that has inspired her including classical, folk, jazz, rock, gospel, blues, soul and R&B. Folk music from the African American tradition has always been hard to pigeon-hole, and Lewis says: “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.”
This summer, she'll be getting her (socially distanced) band back together for livestreams. LLP spans multiple generes, from Afrobeat to progressive jazz to R&B. But until the live music world is truly open for business again, Lewis has offered quarantunes reflecting her mantra of “Practice radical decency.” Her performances, from radio to sponsored streams, include solo piano, and acapella sets with harmonizing vocal loops – a one-woman Sweet Honey in the Rock. To help give back, Lewis is also participating in Letters from the Porch where performers lift spirits in the New Orleans medical community; and one-on-one mentoring calls for Folk Alliance International.
Since taking up residency in New Orleans, Lewis has integrated elements of the funk rock vibe that was born there. She has taken a seat among tradition holders, singing lead for Dirty Dozen Brass Band founding member Kirk Jospeh’s Backyard Groove, and running one of New Orleans' premier indie record labels, Louisiana Red Hot Records with a catalog that has included Trombone Shorty, Cyril Neville, and Allen Toussaint protogé Roland Guerin. Humbled by the charge to help build something forward-thinking and positive for New Orleans and Louisiana musicians, Lewis' end game is to bring more music industry to the city, while helping artists realize their vision of success. With her music executive hat on, Lewis headed up Folk Alliance International's Louisiana Red Hot Records Showcase in early 2020.
Lewis herself has two releases on Louisiana Red Hot Records, the 2018 critically acclaimed solo piano album “The Henderson Sessions,” and 2019's LLP (The Lilli Lewis Project) "We Belong" of which Downbeat said: "In a meshing of genres where Lewis’ soulful, r&b-tinged vocals meet impressive arrangements on a panoply of songs, her New Orleans-bred chameleonic dexterity gets brought to the fore." Both are available on vinyl: www.louisianaredhotrecords.com.
Three-time recipient of OffBeat Magazine’s “Record Label of the Year” while General Manager for Louisiana Red Hot Records. Lewis is a sought-after music business panelist, production consultant, and advocate for New Orleans’ musical community with 20-plus years of music industry experience as composer, producer, and performing artist. Lewis is also Chief Operating Officer for Marketing, Merchandising and Distribution firm, SunRea Enterprises, LLC. She co-hosts community radio show “The Internal Weather Report” on 102.3 FM, WHIV Social Justice Radio in New Orleans, and is a guest reviewer for OffBeat Magazine.
Lilli Lewis Project
QUOTES & REVIEWS
“the kind of experience that challenges you not to accept the artist so much as your own self.” - OffBeat Magazine
A riveting a cappella opening to Lilli Lewis’ ‘Coretta’s Song’ brings to mind a Negro spiritual, and pulls the listener in for a taut, acoustic beacon to the resilience of black women."
Lilli Lewis is one of the best for pure emotional impact and sincerity in her artistry. If you haven't heard her then do yourself a favor and become enthralled.”
Lilli has a voice with depth and inspiration that takes the best of jazz, folk, and pop and simply soars.”