Liz Mc Comb
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THE WASHINGTON INFORMER (December 28-January 3, 2001)

Liz Mc Comb "European Gospel Sensation"
Over the years, Paris, France has continued to retain its reputation as a great supporter of the Arts. With her many venues, there are numerous platforms for artists to share their gifts, as well as available opportunities for citizens to satisfy their insatiable thirst for the options available as a result.
Along with Classical, Jazz and Blues found their way into many of those venues years ago. Today, that love affair continues to flourish. In the eyes of Europeans, Gospel has always ranked up there with the two, but has begun to establish a rightful place of it's own. Much of that newfound interest is a direct result of the hard work and perseverance of one lady, Ms. Liz McComb.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, McComb relocated to Paris in the mid-eighties after travelling extensively throughout Europe with the famed Jean Austin Singers. After experiencing great success through this liaison, she soon realized that working as an individual artist, performing solo at the piano, would afford her the opportunity to not only share her gift, but defend the authentic roots of Gospel front the racist stereotypes and crass commercialism often seen throughout the years. Now approaching fifteen-plus years since making the decision to set up base in Paris, she has no regrets. "I love it here. The city is so beautiful and the French have always supported me, which I appreciate so much ! I feel much frer over here", she states.
First living in Switzerland upon her decision to relocate, things began to take off. Soon Paris became her base while travelling throughout other parts of Europe. It was then that she met manager Gerard Vacher, whom she credits as being a pivotal component in her career. Since beginning their association over ten years ago, the two have been essential in elevating the art to the level enjoyed today, bringing Gospel into major venues not just in Paris, but throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia as a whole. Appearing in music festivals from Spain to Senegal, Palestine to Morocco, McComb has carried the banner, offering Gospel in many Nations. She has done extensive work in European television, has shared the stage with the likes of Ray Charles, Bessie Griffin, Taj Mahal, and James Brown, as well as Gospel legends The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Rev. Clay Evans, and Dr. Bobby Jones to name a few. She participated in the Diana Ross tribute in Cannes as well as the millennium celebration in Bethlehem.
In conversation, she constantly pays homage to her forefathers for paving the way for her in the country. "The French has always carried a great respect for Gospel. Clara Ward & the Ward Singers and Sister Rosetta Tharpe paved the way," she states. An avant-garde performer influenced by Mahalia Jackson and Marion Williams, she realized years ago that it was possible to successfully take the spiritual experience out of the church and move it into concert halls. In those performances, she gives all she has, using her rich voice and "jazzy piano savvy". As a result, she has built a legion of followers that now places her at the top of the genre in the eyes of Europeans. "I am a strong believer in spontaneity and creation, pushing yourself to give that little extra," she admits. ! "Living outside of your own culture gives me that extra push."
Recently, I saw Ms. McComb at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. Equipped with a New Orleans styled brass ensemble, a Turkish cellist, and a back up trio that included Washington resident Lisa Bellamy, she gave-attendees everything they expected and more ! The house was packed for both performances ! As special guest, Mr. "Oh Happy Day," Edwin Hawkins was featured. Creator of the first Gospel song to transcend all ethnos, it was her first appearance with him, and her first in Paris in many years. "I have a big respect for Edwin Hawkins. I am truly honoured to have the opportunity to share the stage with him !"
In a couple of weeks, McComb will complete her hectic 2000 World Tour with a Christmas concert in China. She will begin her next year of touring on New Years Day as she travels to the United States to participate in "Take It To The Bridge - 2001 at Houston's famed Astrodome. Billed as the "greatest Gospel gathering, Liz will share her magic in Texas, then travel on to New York City for a January 6th concert at the Lincoln Center. This USA leg of the tour will coincide with the release of her latest (of many) DVD and Video project, "Live At Olympia."
In closing, it's easy to see why Liz McComb is the #1 Gospel artist in Europe. She is fiercely dedicated to her art. The French now claim her "as their own ! Their outpouring of love and support mirrors their love for the African-American and our music. For more about Liz McComb, check out her website.
By Kenny Taylor

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