“Light” on Louisiana Red Hot Records


"Light" single (Louisiana Red Hot Records, 2016)
“Light” single (2016)

The single, “O, Let Your Light Shine Bright” was picked up by OffBeat Magazine’s 2015 Record Label of the Year, Louisiana Red Hot Records. LRHR is a vanguard label that has launched the careers of up and comings from Trombone Shorty to Hunter Hayes, and is currently home to power house New Orleans favorites like Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and Honey Island Swamp Band. The only deep south label with distribution with Entertainment One, this partnership means the song is being represented by the world’s #1 independent distributor. 

“Light” is a warm reminder that we all might be better off by allowing ourselves to celebrate each other for who we are. The song is offered with a “B Side” called “Walk Upon the Water,” an epic folk-rock number that recalls that it’s totally ordinary for people to achieve the extraordinary when we all do art part. If this sounds like something you could get behind, by all means, download today!

Recordings


RELEASES FROM LILLI LEWIS


THE SHIZ


ALSO APPEARS ON


The Shiz: Meet You in the Morning (2013)

Produced by The Shiz and TJ Barends
Recorded in Bogalusa, LA by Ben Mumphrey for Studio in the Country and Hammond, LA TJ Barends for Sir-Reel Studios.
Copyright: Elysium House Music 2013, ASCAP

“Meet You in the Morning” co-produced by The Shiz and TJ Barends (Bare Sounds Productions at Sir-Reel Studios, Hammond, LA) is an ambitious 70 minute 14 song opus with a wide ebb and flow reminiscent of Tom Petty (one of the band’s most obvious heroes) from his “Wildflower” days. Singles include “Juggernaut,” “Driftin’, ” and “For the People” from Hogan, and “New Jim Crow” and “Sleep Baby, Slumber” from Lewis. But as with any album conceived project, the songs, diverse as they are, belong to each other, and are held together by the quartet’s “electric chamber music” approach and Barends’ roots based sensibilities, yielding a youthful, transparent authenticity to the relatively mature and nuanced collection. Challenging industry and ideology from the BP Oil Spill to the prison industrial complex, the themes are both topical and existential in nature, and rely on their southern/bluesy roots to keep the much of the most weighted material in a context of light touch confrontation. A notable exception to this, however, is the 7 minute tone poem “Boxcar,” a song written by Lewis and Hogan after experiencing an exhibit of the same name at a Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, FL in 2012.

The deluxe edition of the recording, only available for download at theshiz.bandcamp.com, includes a studio outtake of “Broken Wings, ” the only original love song in the band’s repertoire to date. When asked about the glaring the absence love-based themes in their writing, Lewis mentions that so many of the love songs she knows “don’t seem to be about love of the requited variety.” She says sometimes their most political action is “just showing up as themselves” as they’re Uncle Sam had once put it, and since she and Hogan are currently lucky enough to enjoy a relationship that actually works, they are free to use their music to work on other ideas like personal sovereignty and redemption.

The album features a number of worthy collaborations, most notable are the contributions of violinist Andrew Robin and guitarist Owen Scott, III. Owen Scott, a friend and former band mate of the late B52′s founding member Ricky Wilson, is a fellow Athens, GA native who left the city the same year Lewis was born. Lewis recruited Scott after a coincidental meeting in Baton Rouge, LA, just as the band was going into pre-production on the new album. Owen is featured on “New Jim Crow” and “For the People,” along with the decidedly Athens / REM influenced “The Rapture.”


The Promised Land (2011)

The Promised Land is an uplifted and soulfully rendered collection of Spirituals from the African-American folk tradition. 

These nineteen songs were chosen based on my personal connections with each one as well as the story at which they collectively aim. I cannot remember a time when these songs did not direct me towards a universal human narrative that speaks to the rich redemption of the human spirit, regardless of the obstacles faced. But something unexpected occurred when studying these works this time around. I began to touch some of the stories that might live beneath the surface of these praise songs, work songs, shouts and hollers.

“Sweet Little Jesus Boy” became about a newborn infant who would know great toil in his lifetime, but would nonetheless remain a regal and cherished child in the hearts of those who cared for him. “He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word” was sung through the eyes of a woman watching in disbelief, indignation, and finally resigned mourning as a loved one is beaten and laid to rest. “Steal Away” is sung from the dark cover of night forest, calling away those who might be ready to face the terrifying and arduous journey of their escape to the north.

Whether the matter be painful or humorous, expressing the truth of one’s humanity directly was not possible for the 19th century slave. By necessity, these stories had to have been sublimated and intertwined in the story of the savior of the slave’s master, allowing a full spectrum of self-awareness to be expressed. In this light, “Ain’t Got Time To Die” takes on a tinge of sarcasm and “I Got Shoes” becomes a potent manifesto of ultimate liberation: “I have everything I need to exist in this world. You may not see it, inside I am already free and walking, singing, flying all over this land. Not everybody who lays claim to this so called ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ will ever come to know in his heart what that type of freedom truly means.”

The Freedom Suite narrates the story of one who seeks liberation “on Earth as it is in Heaven.” The subject recognizes his place and simply reiterates a rejection of his condition. When he embarks on his path, he wades in troubled waters, both a practical throwing off of scents and a spiritual rite of passage. He’s lost to a dark wilderness, but has heard of something better, and can only do his best to get there. A ghost of a chance is offered as “The Gospel Train” approaches, which at once represents both the Underground Railroad and a path to an enlightenment. It might be a rough ride, but it is afforded to anyone willing to “get on board.”

Finally, the listener is asked to “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning.” In the language of the old Testament, it means being prepared for whatever opportunity may come your way. In the language of the Underground Railroad, the lit lantern in the window meant a safe space to the weary fugitive, even though such flagrant compassion could mean the very life and well being of the one extending that helping hand. In the language of my time and of my intention, this song begs us all to be prepared to do and pursue whatever is required to accept that we are all in this together, that we cannot turn our backs on our own journeys any more than we can neglect the needs of our neighbor. The voices of our past tell us not to get weary, not to give in. They say, with all the wisdom and conviction of our forefathers and foremothers who sit in the spaces bend time, that the divisive journey of our past will soon be over, and the time for the evolution of our collective story is now. May their voices lead us to The Promised Land.


The Shiz: Where We Stand (2009)

The Shiz’s debut presents a taut brand that straddles every branch of the roots rock tree from bluegrass to afro-punk, proving to be unexpectedly stirring and a damn good time. The offering skillfully balances expansive grooves without losing sight of the anatomy of a great song, yielding easy tunes with a message and an edge, drenched in the soul of the south.


Very Small Things (2009)

As heard at the Y2K10 International Looping Festival in Santa Cruz, CA, “Very Small Things” is the follow-up companion to Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award winner “Out from Yonder.” A diverse, heart-felt collection of original songs inspired by Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bobby McFerrin and Pete Seeger, all written and performed on a BOSS RC-2 looper.



Out from Yonder (2008)

Lilli Lewis has been playing the piano since she was three years old, and composing music for just as long. Raised on a dirt road outside of Athens, GA, the award-winning classical pianist and soprano now pursues a subtler muse and her unexpected journey has yielded a world of insight matched with “innovative, soulful music that will never go out of style.” mp3.com

Lilli’s early immersion in classical music is now met with blues, folk and soul traditions that conjure rich echoes of Odetta and Roberta Flack. She has self-produced four LPs since 2003, each capturing a unique snapshot of the American musical terrain, ever revealing the heart of a truthful sojourner.

“Out From Yonder” won runner-up for Best Folk/World Album in the 2009 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards, and rendered Lilli a regional finalist for the acclaimed Mountain Stage Newsong Competition.

Inspired by the landscapes of Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, CO, the collection reveals stirring melodies mingling with snaps, claps, drums, Hindu mantra and Tuvan throat singing. In August 2008, original selections from “Out From Yonder” rendered Lilli a regional finalist for the acclaimed Mountain Stage Newsong Competition.

Known to audiences from Seattle to Paris, Lilli has been moving audiences with her original music since 2002. With just her voice Lilli weaves a one woman expedition through universal themes like beauty, peace, self-declaration and without a doubt, love.


Sleepers Wake (2006)

“Sleepers Wake”, Lewis’ third album, is a journey of beauty and pain, of longing and love, of inescapable truths and infinite possibilities. In these six songs, Lewis brings the listener deeper than ever before in a quest for home, justice and love, and finds a path to them all in her own heart.

Lewis’ “innovative, soulful” music defies conventional genre categories. Those who try to capture her sound have conjured names like Alice Coltrane and Cassandra Wilson, but perhaps the most accurate description was coined by poetess Kemi Bennings, who described her as an “operatic, r and b, folk songbird.” Lewis herself maintains her only goal is “to make music that makes sense to me.” She does so with an elegant poise, her versatile voice showing itself in one moment a pure and longing stratospheric pianissimo, the next a low and earthy rumble, dancing across her range with arresting beauty and ease.

A two-time 1st place winner in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) vocal competition, Lewis actively performs in every idiom including classical, jazz, folk, gospel and soul. Lewis has recorded with Laszlo Gardony, John Lockwood, Mark Shilansky, Jerome Duepree & Blake Newman. Bands have included Coriander, The Reverend and ETQ (www.elevatethequest.com) and in 2001 she composed the score for the award-winning documentary “NINE.”


Castles of Her Crystalline (2005)

“Lilli Lewis, a chanteuse, a pianist with one of the widest hearts and deftest touches in songwriting I have ever heard…uniquley poignant and heartfelt…” Tom Daley, poet

The “innovative, soulful” Lewis writes with elegant poise, her versatile voice shows itself in one moment a pure and longing stratospheric pianissimo, the next a low and earthy rumble, dancing her across her range with arresting beauty and ease.

“Words don’t do justice to the music Lilli Lewis creates- a true dichotomy of sound. Vocals that straddle the spectrum from Patti (as in Tuck &…) to Oleta Adams, and music that combines intricate jazz chords and syncopated rhythms most singers would need a month to master. Lewis is the light at the end of the tunnel …innovative, soulful music [that] will never go out of style.” – mp3.com


The Coming of John (2003)

“With a sultry voice as smooth as melted butter, Lilli Lewis croons a lush blend of jazz and R&B sensibilities, backed by utterly masterful instrumentation. Sometimes melancholy and always deeply mature, the music…will move you on multiple levels.”

Ampcast.com

Lilli Lewis comes from the famously enigmatic Athens, Georgia where she studied classical piano and voice. An “innovative, soulful” singer and composer, Lewis writes with elegant poise in a style where Gabriel Fauré meets Pharoah Sanders. As she sings, her versatile voice shows itself in one moment a pure and longing stratospheric pianissimo, the next a low and earthy rumble. Lilli dances across her broad vocal and musical range with arresting beauty and ease.

Her band, The Lilli Lewis Project, which features Lewis on piano and vocals, is augmented by award winning clarinetist and composer Todd Brunel who unfailingly presents “tremendous virtuosity and heart” (Eileen Pfeiffer, Boston Globe). A veteran of the Montreal Jazz and Aspen Music Festivals, Brunel plays with breathtaking energy paired with an intimately nuanced lyricism.

“Pianist, composer and awe inspiring singer that merges classical, negro spiritual and soul musics. Her original songs are vocal tour de forces…” Boston Fielder