Liz Mc Comb
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In the battered but untamed, displaced but not uprooted souls of the slaves emerged the afro-american song. Like the slopes of a gigantic mountain :

- On one side, deep and dark, began to rise the howl of blues, blowing with the lonesome hoboes, whistling with the chaingangs and fugitives in the evil of cottonfields, also accompanying their exodus to the gloomy ghettoes.
- In the same time, filling the air with a soft and misty light, emanated the spirituals and gospel songs. The whole community gathered to spread the literal and absolute message of the Bible, a message of peace, justice and love, through the preacher’s liturgy that fed hopes and fueled revolt against oppression.
- This generous music inspired landscapes of harmony and contrasts.

This melting pot of sacred but erotic, or profane but inspired voices gave birth to musics that marked the 20th century with its universality : jazz, from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane, who claimed their declaration of "love supreme"; rhythm'n'blues, that saturday night fever before the Sunday moming fervour; soul music, which is nothing but gospel by preachers on a spree; funk, this trance dragged out of the church thanks to James Brown ; reggae, beaming out like a sunsplash upon jamaican spiritual singers; rap, a new breed of preachers down the streets... and last, but not least, rock'n'roll : Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis began by singing in the temples of the Pentecostal Church.

Liz McComb is also a member of this Church, the most african and extroverted part of the fondamental Holiness Church, where the audience is caught up by the frenzy of dance, clapping and ring shouts. This is clearly expressed in “ Soul Say Yes ”, a song of “ call and response ” which is an obvious legacy of Western African Rituals.

Liz McComb is the perfect embodiment of this authentic and timeless inheritance. On stage, her energy would make green with envy the most hysterical female rock stars. She brandishes her mike like a torch, shouting her faith with an outstanding and ever improving voice she shares with others as a gift of God. Her own history is the history of her people : she grew up in the inner city of Cleveland, where her mother is a minister and was bom in Mississipi, the deep south of USA which is, keep in mind, situated at the same latitude as Egypt...

Liz is more than a singer : she is a “ cantatrice ” - as she would be called if she were a “ griote ” in the French speaking part of West Africa. Her exceptional range from contralto to soprano - places her as a non academic équivalent of Barbara Hendricks or Jessie Norman.

This, her second album (the first one was recorded in studio) shows the art of Liz laid bare : on stage, in the most ruthless conditions, yet closest to the liturgy... a capella, or through her own solemn piano chords, played in a simple but colorful style coming from the organ players... without any embellishment, except in the friendly dialogue she engages with her bass player David Levray.

This album is an offering. You will discover some of the spiritual and gospel classics as recorded during the 1993 french tour that brought her from the Lavaur Cathedral to the Casino de Paris. Many of them, like “ Steal Away ” or “ It'Il Be Alright ”, are among the famous and oldest black american songs of freedom. The listener will be amazed by the originality of Liz's interprétation of the old chestnut “ Deep River ”, and the way she departs from her models in “ Rock My Soul ” (which Louis Armstrong immortalized in “ The Good Book ”) and “ In The Upper Room ” - The favourite tune of her elders sisters Mahalia Jackson and Marion Williams.

No matter where she sings, a medieval church or a fashionable music hall, a single and symbolic floodlight illuminates her from above : the listener is literally transported with delight. Her very personal voice arises from the depth of her soul and she manages to reconcile the two characters evoked by the french poet Louis Aragon “ Celui qui croyait au Ciel et celui qui n'y croyait pas ”... “ He who believed in God and he who did'nt believe ”.

Gérald Arnaud (translation Laurence Tsogo Onana)

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