Lizz Wright awarded the Ella Fitzgerald Award
The trophy will be presented to her by Laurent Saulnier, vice-president of progamming, tonight at 8 p.m. during the artist’s concert in Salle Ludger-Duvernay, Monument-National, part of the Jazz Beat Hyatt Regency Montréal series.
Thanks to her minister father and religious schooling, jazz singer Lizz Wright holds the power of gospel in her spellbinding voice, calling on the entire legacy of African-American music. Born in Hahira, Georgia, Wright discovered music in the church where her father was minister and her mother sang gospel. She developed her vocal talent in high school, singing in the school choir, then pursuing her musical studies at Georgia State University and the New School in New York. She then joined the vocal quartet and took part in a tribute to Billie Holiday in 2002. The following year, the singer-songwriter launched her solo debut, Salt, fusing jazz and R&B, followed by Dreaming Wide Awake (2005), The Orchard (2008), Fellowship (2010) and Freedom & Surrender (2015). The supremely gifted singer would release a string of acclaimed albums on Verve, climbing the jazz charts. Her style, a blend of soul, jazz and pop with solid gospel roots, has won her comparisons to Anita Baker, Regina Belle, Cassandra Wilson and Tracy Chapman.
Lizz Wright is the 19th winner of the Ella Fitzgerald Award. The Festival created the award for its 20th anniversary, in 1999, annually conferring it upon a jazz singer of significant talent who has had a major impact and influence in the international scene.
In accepting the prize, Lizz Wright will be following previous Ella Fitzgerald prizewinners Gregory Porter (2016), Erykah Badu (2015), Diana Ross (2014), Holly Cole (2013), Liza Minnelli (2012), Sade (2011), The Manhattan Transfer (2010), John Pizzarelli (2009), Aretha Franklin (2008), Harry Connick, Jr., (2007), Etta James (2006), Al Jarreau (2005) Tony Bennett (2004), Bobby McFerrin (2003), Dianne Reeves (2002), Diana Krall (2001), Dee Dee Bridgewater (2000) and Diane Schuur (1999).