Liz Mc Comb
- home - discography - Fire
To Order Video Box Audio Box



The whole history of African-American music is a long way, from home roots to universal art, from anonymity to worldwide recognition. This is the emblematic destiny of Liz Mc Comb : born in Cleveland, Ohio, from a modest, Deep South rooted family, she became the most celebrated gospel singer overseas... Thanks to her, gospel is now welcomed everywhere, even in the very temples of classical music like Theatre du Châtelet in Paris where she just performed and sold out on October 26th and 28th.
She owes this wonderful success to her exceptional musical gifts (both as singer and pianist), her magic relationship with any audience and her faithfulness to the most authentic heritage of her ancestors.
Her childhood was mainly dedicated to music and religion. Her mother - now in her 80's - is still pastor of the Pentecostal church where Liz began to pray and sing among her sisters.
About 20 years ago, Liz Mc Comb flew to Europe, taking part in the famous "Roots of Rock&Roll Tour". Far from disoriented, she fell in love with this "old continent", so new for her but always a promise land for gospel, jazz and blues singers.
So she decided to settle in Paris. There the first "jubilee singers" were already welcomed in the 1870's, and her "grand sisters" - Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams - were greeted like queens. France was a real homeland for the greatest African American musicians like Sidney Bechet, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Bill Coleman, Bud Powell, the Golden Gate Quartet, Big Bill Bronzy, Lester Young, Johnny Griffin, Memphis Slim, John Lewis and Screamin'Jay Hawkins …
The ascension of Liz Mc Comb in Paris was slow, careful but irresistible. Soon after her arrival, she was the guest star who opened local shows for James Brown and Ray Charles. At the same time, she took part in the beautiful and short-lived gospel quartet "Psalms", she then began to perform and record on her own.

Her first album "Acoustic Woman" (1992) establishes her singular style, both archaic and progressive, alternating ancient but totally renewed spirituals and original songs sounding better than most of the "soul" hits at the time.
The following "Rock my Soul" and "Live", still mostly a traditional gospel repertoire, confirm her ability to deal with frantic tempo and subtle chords while setting a mystical relationship with "The Everyone".
That's the point, and it's the key to "Time Is Now", the fourth album that got the prestigious "Mahalia Jackson Prize 1996". Now's the time when Liz Mc Comb reveals herself as a composer : pearls like "Song of Freedom", "What Happened to the Love?", "Give Him Up" and of course "Time is Now" rival the masterworks of gospel song. Their secret is that they were not only "written" but improvised, at first, in front of (and together with) the friendly audience of Liz Mc Comb.
Because the truth is Liz has a miraculous gift for dealing ideas and feelings with people, however different they may be. It's the main reason why she lives and sings, and you can feel it from her first note when she lands on stage, rushing to her piano, and striking furious chords while introducing her fellow musicians with a soft and tender voice…
This is Liz Mc Comb : a strange cocktail of rage and sweetness, of passion and shyness, which makes whatever she sings something of her own life.
Secret life : giant posters show her face along the streets of Paris, but nobody knows how or where she lives. Nothing to do with "stardom" : on the contrary, she's an humble person who refuses absolutely any kind of self-centredness. She flees from the cameras, for her an interview is a martyrdom!
However, she's a real star now, in Europe and abroad. In France, all of her shows are sold out in the most prestigious places, and everyone is a special event :
At the Casino de Paris (where Josephine Baker led the "Revue Nègre")… At the Olympia (where Edith Piaf, Aretha, Jimi Hendrix and so many others performed), she gave two free New Year's day concerts for the homeless. Either at the old Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (where "The Rite of Spring" was created) or in the brand new Opéra de Lyon - where she sang along with dancer Bill T. Jones - Liz succeeded in bringing together all human beings, regardless of their class, their color, their language, nationality or religion.

Her Parisian home is not nothing more than a base for her, a kind of aircraft carrier for an artist who is constantly in flight. She opened the Bimillenium in Palestine, where she was the "ambassador" of the USA for the celebration of Christmas 2000 in Bethlehem ; and at the end of the same year, she has been chosen to be the first gospel star in China to perform in Peking and Shanghai.
Meantime she discovered Africa, the motherland, touring in Senegal and Ivory Coast. This was a big shock for her to realize the terrible situation of these countries, yet the least poor of this region…
It was a big contrast with the " World Economic Forum of Davos", in Switzerland, where she sang the same songs, with the same sincerity, in front of the "Forces of Money".

One can hear in the voice of Liz Mc Comb the kind of heartbreak which is pure passion, much more than compassion about her Neighbor. She couldn't sing only for the pleasure of singing, yet she enjoys music at its highest level.
Many people can giggle by listening to the traditional evangelist song : "Don't Let the Devil Ride". "Devil" means nothing for them anymore, but for Liz, it symbolizes everything she rejects, like "The Man Upstairs" expresses her faith in Jesus, the only God who accepted to suffer like a man.
"Fire", sustained by the beautiful organ grooves of the Reverend Harold T. Johnson, is a funky hymn which could have seduced Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye.
"Whenever You Pray" is probably the best "résumé" of Liz Mc Comb's life. She prays and sings everywhere around the globe, and discovered in concrete terms what's the basis of all religions according to their greatest historian Mircea Eliade who names it "theophany" : God is at first the topical and topographic center of any place where people pray.
For Liz Mc Comb, "Jesus is a Rock". But her faith is solid like a rock, and her passion is an active volcano. All the daily problems that most people deal with are centered around material aims, she brings them into the spirituality of her life and songs.
Musically, she's a wonderful improviser, and her voice often seems like the sound of a great saxophone player. But it's not what she seeks.
Her musical enjoyment, that brought to her so many people from many countries, is not so important. And the word "art" is secondary for her.
"Love" is her main concern. "Passion" is her sole source of energy, and to understand that, listen to this final song, the outstanding "Chant de Liberté", where she moves from a very simple song to a kind of trance, speaking "in tongues"... She has even been called "The Extremist of Love" !
This album is only a sample of the art and life of Liz Mc Comb : somebody who expresses her faith far from home, bringing the Gospel around the Globe.


DvD and video
Concert calendar
Photo album

mail to webmaster