Lizz Wright's "Fellowship" is a moving feast of songs that hark back to her gospel heritage. The 12-track album is the focus of her nationwide tour, which will allow Washington area fans to savor Wright's caramelized voice at both the Birchmere and Ram's Head in Annapolis. This album is a u-turn from "Salt," her first album that reached number two on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz chart, and "Dreaming Wide Awake," a blend of jazz, pop and folk. Her third album, "Orchard," hailed by CBS Sunday Morning as "one of the best albums of the year," signaled her dedication to African-American music.
|IF YOU GO|
|Where: The Birchmere|
|When: 7:30 p.m., Feb. 11|
|Info: $35; 703-549-7500 or birchmere.com|
|Where: Ram's Head, Annapolis|
|When: 8 p.m., Feb. 14.|
|Info: $35; tickets.ramsheadonstage.com|
"Fellowship" is a seamless blend of traditional church songs; Wright's own thoughtful "I Remember, I Believe," and "Presence of the Lord" and "In From the Storm," covers by Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, respectively. It ends with her thoughtful interpretation of "Amazing Grace."
"When I began thinking about a new recording, I wanted to sing songs for my family and to incorporate my spirituality that's always present in things I need to address," she said. "I decided that nothing could be better than singing the good songs in the way we used to sing them. After going through a really long time of touring, I want nothing more than to see my family. This is for them."
Wright's father, a pastor, taught her to concentrate on how she was making people feel during the service. She sang in the choir and played the piano, transporting the congregation with her voice to celestial heights. Along with the traditional gospel songs, she acquired an interest in jazz and blues.
Wright's Web site and album design celebrate human fellowship, with photos of foods fit for a feast, one of her passions for sharing with others. A purveyor of favorite family recipes right down to her grandfather's tasty recipe for squirrel, she honed her cooking skills while attending the National Gourmet Institute.
"I enjoy finding a common link with people in many ways," she said. "For this reason, I want my next recording to dig deeper into a simplified version of gospel. I'm always writing to reach people, and when I perform I love to feel close to the audience and see their faces. It's like visiting good friends."