"ROCK MY SOUL"
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
- 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.
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.
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
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 ”.
Arnaud (translation Laurence Tsogo Onana)