When Eliza Lynn tosses her long red hair back and steps up to the microphone to sing, a world of music comes pouring out. Foothills folk, backwoods hollers, playful pop, lilting Texas Swing and deep country blues; over the course of her young-but-well-traveled life, the Nashville and Asheville based singer/songwriter has absorbed it all.
With a career bolstered by community support through album pre-sales and individual and business sponsorship, Lynn is taking the idea of community participation in her musical career a new level in 2011. This fall she will be releasing a Community Produced Album, her first collection of cover songs. Each track has been chosen and sponsored by members of her fan base, what she calls her Circle of Support. The album, the first of two volumes, will include songs by John Prine, Mississippi John Hurt, Dougie MacLean, Old Crow Medicine Show, and many others and is being recorded in Asheville, NC with musicians Will Straughan, Rayna Gellert, Jon Stickley and Alia Clary. This album is a return to her roots after the critical acclaim of her career-defining third full length collection, Haven.
On Haven (2009), Lynn worked with Nashville producer/guitarist Thomm Jutz [Nanci Griffith, Mary Gauthier], and a core group of Music City's finest players (including Griffith drummer Pat McInerney and longtime Ricky Skaggs bassist Mark Fain). Haven hit a deeply traditional vein only hinted at on her two previous critically acclaimed releases, 2005's Frisky or Fair and The Weary Wake Up from 2007.
It was "Sing A New Song," a track from her debut album, that helped to spread the singer's reputation beyond her loyal Asheville fan base and kicked off the chain of events that would lead up to the making of Haven. Citing Lynn's "enormous talent," Putumayo World Music featured the song on their 2007 compilation release, Americana. Lynn rode the success of that track all the way to London, where, accompanying herself on guitar and clawhammer banjo, she dazzled her hosts at famed Abbey Road Studios in a live worldwide broadcast for XM Radio/Worldspace/AOL. From there, she was off to the 2008 Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, where she first encountered both producer Jutz and Scottish folk star Dougie McLean, who subsequently invited Lynn to join him at his own festival, Perthshire Amber, in Scotland.
Built on a sturdy Appalachian foundation and soaked in the blues, Lynn's evocative singing voice, which has drawn comparisons to everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Peggy Lee, is the driving force and centerpiece of her albums and live shows. Rarely has time-tested tradition sounded so utterly fresh and contemporary. Whether she's displaying her clawhammer banjo or Piedmont guitar chops or letting the band's sultry groove carry her away, every song provides brilliant musical proof that Eliza Lynn is an artist whose time has come.
"Eliza Lynn may as yet an unheralded talent but mark my word she will become a force, and it won?t come a day too soon." - Americana UK
"This is as classy as classy can get" - Alt Country Forum
"This girl's ready to take on the world." - PopMatters.com
Eliza Lynn Solo - Vocals, Guitar and Banjo
2011 - Together, Civility Records - Release later this year!
2009 - Haven, Civility Records
2008 - Grit Pixies - Live EP, Independent
2007 - The Weary Wake Up, Civility Records
2007 - Americana, Putumayo World Music
(This compilation includes Eliza's track "Sing a New Song")
2005 - Frisky or Fair, Civility Records
Eliza Lynn - TOGETHER UK release March 2011
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Subtlety is a great thing I guess, but can a great thing afford to be subtle…? I guess the fact of t...Subtlety is a great thing I guess, but can a great thing afford to be subtle…? I guess the fact of the matter is (and I speak from the vantage point of experience here) that unless you shout loud enough, most of the time you won’t be heard. And I fear that this wonderful, wonderful (yes, I meant to repeat it, lest saying it the one time was too subtle) album may be a case in point. So allow me to do some shouting on its behalf.
The premise is pretty simple, but inherently ‘quirky’: It's an album of cover versions performed by an emerging American singer-songwriter backed by a sympathetic, almost entirely acoustic band… and then there’s the quirky bit. The twist is that it’s also a community project of sorts with all the material chosen and co-produced by people other than Lynn herself – her fans were asked to decide what she should sing and how she should sing it. Okay, so as ‘quirky’ goes, maybe it’s not that mind-blowing, I mean we’ve all seen this song and dance plenty of times before (and often for all the wrong reasons), but you have to concede that, in this instance, for such a little-known artist to hand her craft over to ‘the fans’ in such a committed way is a brave move.
Regardless, the gamble pays dividends and ‘Together’ is a record brimming with a sense of warmth that is palpable. Solidly performed, but imbued with a certainty and self-assuredness that stretches beyond the effortless musicianship on display. Granted, it loses pace a couple of times (most notably during an a capella rendition of “Sit Down Servant”) and there are moments here and there when Lynn sounds a little hesitant, but the odd slip up is more than compensated for by the whole.
Sit back, enjoy and then go tell your friends about an amazing album they probably won’t get to hear about by any other means.
Co-bill with Dougie MacLean article and show review
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PERTHSHIRE AMBER FESTIVAL SPREADS ITS WINGS TO BLAIRGOWRIE Jun 3 2010 by Alison Lowson, Blairgowri...PERTHSHIRE AMBER FESTIVAL SPREADS ITS WINGS TO BLAIRGOWRIE
Jun 3 2010 by Alison Lowson, Blairgowrie Advertiser
IT will be a homecoming of a different kind for Dougie MacLean when he performs at Blairgowrie Town Hall on Wednesday, November 3, at 8pm as part of his ever-growing Perthshire Amber Festival.
“I went to school in Blairgowrie,” Dougie told the Blairie.
“And in the early 70s I was involved in running the popular and successful Blair Folk Club which hosted such folk greats as Archie Fisher and Barbara Dixon.
“We are thrilled to be coming to Blairgowrie Town Hall, it’s a fantastic venue and we have a history of seeking out special and lovely venues whether they’re castles, crannogs, cathedrals or concert halls.”
As well as going to school in Blairgowrie, Dougie and his family are based in Butterstone, midway between Dunkeld and Blairgowrie where they have their home, offices and recording studio.
At the concert in Blairgowrie Town Hall, Dougie will share the stage with two top American stars, Eliza Lynn and Will Straughan.
Nashville born Eliza’s bluesy Americana style with guitar and banjo is expected to go down a storm. Steeped in the blues, her evocative voice has drawn comparisons to everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Peggy Lee, but it is in her own soul-searching songs that it is used to best effect.
Multi-instrumentalist Will Straughan (acoustic guitar, dobro, mandolin, lap and pedal steel) has performed alongside the likes of James Taylor, BB King, Dennis Trucks and Ben Harper and has recorded and collaborated with numerous top American country-blues artists.
Dougie declared: “Eliza was a total hit with the audience at the Caledonia Concert during Perthshire Amber 2009 and I am delighted that she can return to this year’s festival with guitarist Will Strachan to join me for my first festival concert in Blairgowrie Town Hall. It should be a wonderful night!”
Tickets for the Blairgowrie Town Hall concert and the other concerts in the festival, as well as a full programme, can be found on the Amber Festival Website: www.perthshireamber.com.
Triumphant homecoming for Dougie MacLean
Nov 11 2010 Blairgowrie Advertiser
MORE than 200 people packed Blairgowrie Town Hall to watch Dougie MacLean in his first ever Perthshire Amber concert in the venue.
It was a form of a homecoming for the international singer-songwriter, who grew up in nearby Butterstone, where he now lives, and went to school in Blairgowrie.
Dougie explained: “I have been looking for another reasonably-sized concert hall to put on events as part of the Perthshire Amber Festival and was surprised and delighted to find the perfect venue right on my doorstep.
"I haven’t performed in Blairgowrie for many years and we’re keen to make our festival reach to audiences in all parts of Perthshire.”
The enthusiastic audience were treated to a stunning performance from flame-haired American songstress Eliza Lynn and her musical partner Will Straughan during the first half of the concert last Wednesday.
Nashville-born Eliza has performed her exciting blend of Texas swing, country blues and playful pop at the festival for the last three years and was thrilled to be able to bring Will with her this time.
She enthused: “I’ve travelled all over the world but this is one of best venues I’ve ever sung in. The acoustics were perfect and the sound was really special.”
After a welcome break with tea, coffee and biscuits, an energetic Dougie MacLean bounded onto the stage and treated the audience to a virtuoso solo performance of songs old and new from his 30-year career. He even broke his self-imposed rule of never repeating a song during the festival to allow the audience to hear his iconic song of longing for home – Caledonia.
“I think I might have risked being lynched if I hadn’t performed Caledonia,” explained MacLean, who admitted a touch of nervousness about performing on home turf. “I was amazed by the warmth of the welcome from the Blairgowrie audience. The atmosphere in the hall was really special.”
And the festival-goers were enjoying themselves too, joining in the choruses of the better known songs, encouraged and aided by MacLean from the stage.
Eliza Lynn “Haven” (Civility Records, 2009)
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Nashville & North Carolina-based Eliza Lynn spans blues, folk and country with alarming ease — an Am...Nashville & North Carolina-based Eliza Lynn spans blues, folk and country with alarming ease — an American cousin of Canadian act, the Be Good Tanyas Perhaps?
Apart from her prowess as vocalist and songwriter Lynn also plays fine claw-hammer banjo. The bustling old style ‘Pulling Tides’ and enchanting stripped bare ‘Apron’ though contrasting tunes are both excellent demonstrations of this.
The foreboding blues fuelled ‘Chicken Bone’ also has a magnetic resonance to it. ‘We Will Pray’ is a tidy package where she speaks of good old-fashioned home values; while, with her commanding superb vocal control ‘Here To Hold’ offers an intimacy of the grandest order. Such is the slide guitar work of producer Tom Jutz (Nanci Griffith) and upright bass (Mark Fain) and sombre ambiance created on this song alone the personal statement made is enough to prompt ordinary acts to stop playing (and the listener want to hear again and again).
‘Lazy Day’ takes the listener back down through the back roads of Mississippi to when slavery was the way of life as she combines black origins in splendid fashion. It sounds like Bonnie Raitt meets Rory Block, and if Lynn can repeat music of this standard she is a name set to be on people who know real music's lips.
Lynn in the main relies on songs from her own pen, and there is nothing wrong in that and when it comes to her choice of imports old gospel standards in ‘I’ll Fly Away’ and ‘Be Thou My Vision’ fit the bill just fine. The former is a song I have heard many times but not in such a refined and articulate fashion as done by Lynn! Performed in an understated rambling blues fashion she turns the song around. While her version of ‘Be Thou My Vision’ with Jutz on electric guitar as her only accompaniment is the more powerful statement and something you want to hear again and again. Such is Lynn’s masterful vocal treatment of the song.
Eliza Lynn may as yet an unheralded talent but mark my word she will become a force, and it won’t come a day too soon.
Date review added: Saturday, September 26, 2009
Reviewer: Maurice Hope
Eliza Lynn "Haven" album review
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Eliza Lynn "Haven" album - Release date : October 2009 - "Haven" is Eliza Lynn's third studio albu...Eliza Lynn "Haven" album
- Release date : October 2009 -
"Haven" is Eliza Lynn's third studio album, released in 2009 by Civility Records. Working with Nashville producer/guitarist Thomm Jutz [Nanci Griffith, Mary Gauthier], and a core group of Music City's finest players (including Griffith drummer Pat McInerney and longtime Ricky Skaggs bassist Mark Fain), Lynn hits a deeply traditional vein only hinted at on her two previous critically acclaimed releases, 2005's Frisky Or Fair and The Weary Wake Up from 2007.
At its worst, music is a source of irritation and aggravation. A mental and physical agony along the deepest depths of the human revulsion. Anyway, by figure of speech because fortunately the on/off button brings consolation. To me bad music can even lead to an aversion for the performer(s). In that respect I should learn to show some more perspective, though I fear it’s too late for that.
On the other hand, good music often offers comfort, inner peace and stability, and feels like a trusted haven where you can build the home you’re always welcome to, and where people let you be yourself. Like ‘Haven’, the excellent new CD from singer, guitarist, banjo player and ‘red head’ Eliza Lynn from Ashville, New Carolina (yep, once again I am deeply impressed by a red-haired singer). In this carefully-balanced album, her third since her 2005 debut ‘Frisky Or Fair’, the listener is treated to a delicious mixture of country, blues, western swing, folk, and jazz – already defined as Americana, but much broader and deeper than this definition suggests.
On ‘Haven’ Eliza Lynn is assisted by some very fine musicians who have the ability lift up the songs to a higher level. Producer / guitarist Thomm Jutz (Nanci Griffith, Tom Rush, Mary Gauthier) understands Lynn’s songs perfectly and places her voice up front, making it seem as if she’s singing in your living room. And great folks like pedal steel guitarist Robby Turner (Willie Nelson, Tony Joe White), bassist Mark Fain (Ricky Skaggs, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) and drummer Pat McInerney (David Olney, Emmylou Harris) put the emphasis right where it should lie. This is as classy as classy can get.
High lights? Well, by picking some songs, I feel like I’m doing too much harm to other songs because this album is exceptionally consistent. Anyhow, one way or another, you develop a slight preference for certain songs. ‘Rush Of The Fall’ is such a song. Superb lyrics, laid back, yet sharp. And a beautiful melody. Or the bluesy ‘More’ that links great lyrics to a strong melody. Or the ‘bare’ traditional ‘Be Thou My Vision’ in which Lynn and Jutz dig deep in their musical heart and soul. Trust me, there are no weak songs on this set, this album has so much beauty to offer.
And that is exactly what I mean by a ‘haven’ to come home to: ‘You used to break my fall / And hold me in my pretty dress and let me tell you about it all / while others clapped hands, all I needed were yours / But the feel of your touch I cannot recall anymore / And I’ll Go On, I’ll find my way / Through silent nights with you far away / And at the top of the hill, I should take a deep breath / Cause with the rush of the fall it may be all I have left’. Beautiful ...
*** by Martin Overheul, Alt Country Forum ***
The Importance of Being Earnest
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The importance of being earnest Eliza Lynn's new model for the music biz by Alli Marshall in Vol. ...The importance of being earnest
Eliza Lynn's new model for the music biz
by Alli Marshall in Vol. 14 / Iss. 08 on 09/19/2007
It’s possible that Asheville-based singer/songwriter Eliza Lynn took the lyric “good things come to those who wait, not to those who wait too late, we got to go for all we know” to heart. Not that her sometimes gritty, sometimes sweet songs bear much resemblance to those of Bill Withers (except for the surprising soul with which she performs and the ‘60s and ‘70s grooves pushing their way into her newer material), but she rides that line between monk-like patience and ladder-climbing persistence.
Singing a new song: Singer/songwriter Eliza Lynn proves nice gals can finish first. Photograph By Sandlin Gaither
Apparently, diligent is the new dilatory, and it seems to be paying off.
“I got lucky,” Lynn tells Xpress. Indeed, her recent inclusion on world-music label Putumayo’s Americana collection happened as if by providence. Lynn’s former employer, Band Village, relocated to Nashville, Tenn. There, at an industry event, the indie-promoter company’s founder, Peter Flemming, sold Lynn’s debut, Frisky or Fair, to a Putumayo representative. The result: The Asheville musician’s song, “Sing a New Song,” appeared on the recently released Americana (Putumayo, 2007) disc, and Lynn spent recent weeks touring to promote the CD, performing radio spots and representing both the Asheville music scene and the Putumayo world-music initiative.
But is all that luck? Not really. Lynn is hardly one to rest on her laurels. According to her bio, she fell into song writing as a Warren Wilson College student when it occurred to her that if she was going to find the perfect song, she’d better write it herself.
Her low, bluesy, roots-meets-modern style seems to come from years (if not lifetimes) of digesting influences, styles and experiences. In fact, Lynn has considered herself a songwriter for less than a decade. Previously, she’s studied and performed as a dancer, worked as a personal trainer, traveled to India and South Africa, spent time in a Zen monastery and developed the Asheville YWCA’s Diabetes Wellness Project.
When Lynn went into the studio to record her sophomore effort, The Weary Wake Up (2007), she employed her tenacious work ethic to the project—not just in composing music but in raising funds. Following a model used by local artists such as Valorie Miller and Stephanie’s Id, Lynn pre-sold her CD to raise capital. Pre-sales guaranteed fans an advance release, as well as a chance to partake in the creative process.
“One hundred thirty people pre-ordered,” Lynn notes. Add to that business sponsors Appalachian Realty, Mountain Magnolia Inn, Studio South, Early Girl Eatery, Claying Around, fiber artist Jude Stuecker and Band Village—along with a handful of private donors—and Lynn was able to pull off a sleek project complete with pop production and eye-catching cover art.
Still, Lynn claims she doesn’t have it all figured out. “I feel all the time like a kindergartner in Algebra 2,” she admits. Listing Asheville-made folk artists Christine Kane and Davids LaMotte and Wilcox among her musical heroes, she hopes her successes will inspire other up-and-comers just as those Asheville musicians who “made it” on the national stage have inspired her.
Citing the spiral on her album cover, the singer says, “That’s the circle of support. My whole emphasis is existing within that circle of support so I can bring forth my gifts.”
Though Lynn’s release party for Weary is a chance for her to celebrate with those who contributed to the album (not to mention choreographed dance routines and a banjo suite), it’s likely that the musician is headed for new (read: less grassrootsy) forms of support. With a Putumayo track to her credit, one tour just finished and a new one about to begin, Lynn seems poised for the next big step.
“I feel a real responsibility for this project,” she says, including both Americana and Weary in that sentiment. “I want to get it out to as many people as possible.”
A lesser talent would be kicked back by the phone, waiting for the record companies to ring.
Eliza Lynn’s CD release party happens at The Grey Eagle on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Quick Six opens. 8 p.m. $10. 232-5800. Other CD release parties include Thursday, Sept. 27, at The Back Room in Flat Rock with a screening of Eliza’s Putumayo music video (8 p.m. 697-6828) and on Saturday, Sept 29, at the Mountain Magnolia Inn in Hot Springs (5:30 p.m. No cover. Dinner reservations required. 622-3543).
Eliza Lynn, The Weary Wake Up
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Eliza Lynn hails from the mountain town of Asheville, N.C., but she belongs to the world. The slim y...Eliza Lynn hails from the mountain town of Asheville, N.C., but she belongs to the world. The slim young redhead with the big, room-filling voice—think Peggy Lee meets Bonnie Raitt—wields her guitar and banjo against a sensual, sassy backdrop of jazz-flavored blues, old-time country folk and classic Memphis soul. One moment she’s a revelator of weary resolve in the banjo/martial drums-powered “Conrad”; the next, a bruised-heart ex-ingénue in “Hold My Breath,” a pop nugget aglow with George Harrison riffs and a smoky B3; and the next, a finger-snapping temptress with strange tastes in nocturnal suitors in the “Fever”-like “Stared at Me.” Intriguingly, Lynn funded her project through individual and business sponsorships. Arts patronage has a long and colorful history, but in contemporary times it’s all but disappeared from the music sphere. When you get dividends as rich as these, however, clearly it’s a tradition worth reviving.
By Fred Mills
First printed in November 2007
Show review: Eliza Lynn at the Grey Eagle
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Singer-songwriter Eliza Lynn could teach most bands a thing or two about how to throw a CD-release p...Singer-songwriter Eliza Lynn could teach most bands a thing or two about how to throw a CD-release party. Her Sept. 26 launch of The Weary Wake Up was, well ... a party.
The Grey Eagle was packed, newcomer duo Quick Six (Chris Padgett and Melissa McGinley) opened, and the audience ran the gamut of families, young artist-types and middle-aged men in Hawaiian shirts. There were, notably, a lot of Hawaiian shirts present.
But once Lynn started playing, it became clear that she not only can pull a diverse crowd; she appeals to listeners across decades and genre lines. It might be because her soulful, bluesy, folk-rock style isn’t immediately definable and so fans of all of these schools can claim the singer-songwriter as their own. More likely, it’s because Lynn performs with such whole-hearted exuberance that — say what you will about folk/Americana/roots music — you can’t listen to her without getting caught up in her gravitational pull. And for a petite person, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Genre-defying and enthusiastic feats aside, Lynn also has a star-studded cast of friends willing to back her up in the recording studio and on stage. The CD release party featured her band (Sean Foley on keyboard, Mike Alexander on bass, Jon Corbin on guitar and drummer Ian Cunningham). Special guests included blues harmonica diva Jill Fromewick, vocalist Stephanie Morgan, Chuck Lichtenberger on keys and a Virginia-based banjo player virtuoso who composed a banjo suite for the evening.
To which Lynn herself performed a modern and African-inspired dance.
Yes, danced. Lynn, a former dancer with Common Ground, also performed a choreographed African-inspired piece to a recorded version of one of her own songs (accompanied by local dance luminaries). Swing dance instructors Jaya Dorf and Michael Gamble cut a rug, and Salsa teacher Maria Voisin took part in a sassy trio with two other dancers.
By the finale, the entire audience was on its feet.
So, was it the most technically great musical performance to stand on the Grey Eagle stage? No. But Eliza Lynn’s CD-release party was easily the most inspired and inspiring show I’ve seen for some time. If Lynn has something to show her fellow musicians, it’s how to really go for it, what ever it may be.
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter on 09/28/2007
Sing Out! review of The Weary Wake Up
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Eliza Lynn, The Weary Wake Up Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine, Spring, 2008 by Michael Tearson ...Eliza Lynn, The Weary Wake Up
Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine, Spring, 2008 by Michael Tearson
Eliza Lynn packs a saucy kick both as writer and performer. The songs' bluesiness feels ripped from some earlier era decades back, and Eliza's sassy, soulful singing recalls the first several Bonnie Raitt albums. Her backing packs a good kick that propels the songs.
I especially like "Intolerance Blues," a reaction to those jingoistic, vengeful "rah rah America" songs Toby Keith and his ilk sing supporting the Iraq war. One listen to Eliza Lynn and you won't soon forget her distinctive voice and musical attack.--MT
COPYRIGHT 2008 Sing Out Corporation
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning
Sing Out! Review of Frisky or Fair
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Off the Beaten Track - (Summer 2006 - Vol. 50 #2) Eliza Lynn Frisky or Fair One of my biggest t...Off the Beaten Track - (Summer 2006 - Vol. 50 #2)
Eliza Lynn Frisky or Fair
One of my biggest thrills as a radio host and CD reviewer for a couple of publications is that all-too-rare discovery of a great album by an artist I'd never before heard. Such and artist and record is Eliza Lynn's Frisky or Fair, an all-original set of winning songs variously rooted in old styles of jazz, old-time Appalachian music, blues and country that flow seamlessly from one to the other unified by Lynn's effortless vocals. The mostly-acoustic arrangements feature some fine playing by varying combinations of Lynn's musical friends from around the Asheville, NC area. Lynn's own banjo playing - which is very good - is featured on four of the songs, including one that is completely solo.
The album begins with "Not 10 Miles," a piece of advice about giving up a futile search. The song has an infectious swing arrangement highlighted by some delightful muted cornet playing by Dale Roberts. Lynn develops the lyrical theme of the opener a couple of songs later with "Tunnel." This is one of the songs featuring Lynn's banjo playing in a haunting minor-key arrangement that sounds like an old folk song.
Other highlights on the CD include the title track, a blues song featuring Lynn's voice gliding on top of an arrangement highlighted by Jill Fromewick's harmonica playing and "You go round corners," which pairs Lynn's singing accompanied only by Joe Mohar's rhythmic tap dancing. That number is a perfect lead-in to “Sing a new song," an upbeat bluesy piece about the joy of singing on which she's ably supported by Bob Willoughby's piano playing, Grant Cuthbertson on bass and drummer Teal Brown.
Eliza Lynn is a young artist that I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from in the years to come.
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MAY 31, 2011 BY ROBIN TOLLESON Eliza Lynn can't ever remember not singing. "Music has alway...MAY 31, 2011
BY ROBIN TOLLESON
Eliza Lynn can't ever remember not singing. "Music has always been my medicine," she says. " Singing and dancing — it's how I feel comfortable being alive." Lynn is now releasing her fourth album, Together, a collection of covers hand-picked by her fans.
"Singing is like a way of being for me. I'll be walking around and realize, 'Wow, I've been singing for the last ten minutes, I wonder what I've been singing.'"
Born in Nashville, TN, Lynn moved with her family to Chicago when she was two. "I grew up singing old gospel stuff," she recalls. "I would sing lead and my dad would sing the harmonies.
"My parents were very musical. My dad was from the Deep South, Georgia, and he sang in quartets growing up, and played trombone in jazz bands when he was 14. My mom was a tap dancer, and danced on TV when she was a little girl. She was a great singer, and played the banjo."
Visitors to the Lynn home were often treated to an early glimpse of Eliza's talent. "I had to sing for them, and do the clog," she smiles. "My parents would put me on the phone for everybody who called, before I was two, to sing 'Georgia On My Mind.' I remember writing songs on the way to pre-school."
Music sometimes took a back seat as she went through school, but even a grueling gymnastics schedule couldn't keep her from singing. "I actually made up song sheets for the gymnastics carpool," she recalls. "I would sing to them, and taught the whole gymnast group 'Mama Tried.'"
On a college search in 1996, Lynn decided to visit Warren Wilson. "I knew I would be on work study, so I wanted to go someplace where everybody was doing that," she says. "I remember driving onto campus — it was my first time in North Carolina. We came on Halloween weekend, and the colors were unbelievable. I was just stunned."
She enrolled at Warren Wilson, balancing world religion and social justice studies with lessons on clawhammer banjo, and sessions with the Common Ground Drum and Dance Ensemble. She made trips to Africa and India, and also discovered her songwriting voice. "I had written songs as a kid and a little in high school. But I remember at college, I constantly wanted this low bluesy song. I craved it but I didn't have the follow through to find the song I wanted. I was in the cafeteria when it hit me — 'If you know the song you want to sing, just sing it.' That was the beginning of my songwriting."
Lynn grew up listening to a cappella vocal groups like Sweet Honey In The Rock, and old country music from the likes of Lefty Frizzell. At Warren Wilson she fell in love with the acoustic music of Africa. "My favorite album still is Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate's In the Heart Of The Moon. It calms me down," she says. "The relationship to the music is most important to me, just the experience of it.
"I love roots music. I love that low, belting, bluesy stuff. The last ten years I've been obsessed with old blues — Reverend Gary Davis and those kinds of folks. I just love acoustic music. In Nashville lately I've become obsessed with classical music. I love that pure sound."
It took a few years after college before Lynn convinced herself that music could be not only her medicine, but her life's work. "My mom and dad were community organizers, and also ministers in the Episcopal church," she explains. "My mom runs the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. Social justice was so huge in my family, I really thought I needed to do something that was more literally helping people. I didn't really understand how much art helps people, and that it's enough."
In 2005 Lynn left her job as a Diabetes Wellness Coordinator for the Asheville YWCA to concentrate fully on her music. Some of her first shows were at The Back Room in Flat Rock. "The Back Room was an amazing help," she recalls. "When David [Brannock] opened, he let me have Fridays for four weeks. That was a real performance lab. I would play for three hours and go through all the songs I knew. I learned a lot there."
That year she released the album Frisky Or Fair, followed by The Weary Wake Up in 2007. In 2007, Lynn's "Sing A New Song" (from Frisky Or Fair) was featured on an Americana compilation album put out by the Putumayo label. That exposure led to the singer being invited to perform annually in Scotland at Dougie MacLean's Perthshire Amber festival. In 2009 she released Haven, recorded with Nashville producer (and Nanci Griffith guitarist) Thomm Jutz. "My songs have been the mending of me," she says. "Even if I'm writing a silly song, a lot of the time it's coming out of feeling that same uncomfortability, or just feeling lost and broken. Singing and writing makes me feel better. It's a real literal experience."
Since moving back to Nashville, Lynn has found several songwriting partners. "I've explored the self-healing aspect for myself," she says. "It's neat to take it to a different place with other people who have different skills, and craft something. I never had a desire to craft anything before. But it still has that medicinal thing, even when you go, 'Hmmm, let's see how we can make that a little bit better.'"
When the singer returns to the Purple Onion on June 25th, it'll be her first solo show there. "Dougie MacLean's manager has been trying to get me to play solo full time," she says. "I'm excited about it. It's just been settling into myself in a different way. I'll probably do a bunch of original stuff and some songs from the new album —close and intimate."
Used to Mean
We Will Pray
I'll Fly Away
Frisky or Fair
Not 10 Miles
Hard to let it hurt
How Many Times
The Dogwood Blooms Again
There are no upcoming dates at this time.