Liz Brasher

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When:
Fri 5/04
12:00pm-12:30pm

Where:
Ponce De Leon

Bio

"These​ ​songs​ ​are​ ​dark,"​ ​says​ ​​Liz​ ​Brasher​ ​​of​ ​the​ ​material​ ​on​ ​her​ ​debut.​ ​"But​ ​they're​ ​about​ ​having​ ​strength through​ ​the​ ​darkness." The​ ​27​ ​year-old​ ​Memphis-based​ ​chanteuse's​ ​debut,​ ​"Cold​ ​Baby"​ ​b/w​ ​"Painted​ ​Image"​ ​(Fat​ ​Possum, 11/03/2017)​ ​is​ ​a​ ​stunning,​ ​smoldering​ ​slab​ ​of​ ​wax​ ​ - ​ ​a​ ​document​ ​of​ ​love​ ​and​ ​disillusion,​ ​faith​ ​and redemption​ ​ - ​ ​that​ ​instantly​ ​heralds​ ​Brasher​ ​as​ ​a​ ​thrilling​ ​new​ ​voice​ ​in​ ​American​ ​roots​ ​music.

Born​ ​in​ ​Matthews,​ ​North​ ​Carolina​ ​near​ ​Charlotte,​ ​Brasher​ ​was​ ​raised​ ​among​ ​a​ ​family​ ​of​ ​singers performing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Baptist​ ​Church​ ​ - ​ ​albeit​ ​one​ ​with​ ​a​ ​twist.​ ​"My​ ​family​ ​is​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Dominican​ ​Republic​ ​so​ ​it was​ ​an​ ​all-Spanish​ ​congregation,​ ​much​ ​different​ ​than​ ​you​ ​would​ ​imagine​ ​a​ ​white​ ​Southern​ ​Baptist​ ​church to​ ​be,"​ ​she​ ​says. "I'm​ ​first​ ​generation,​ ​so​ ​we​ ​only​ ​speak​ ​Spanish​ ​to​ ​one​ ​another.​ ​What​ ​that​ ​did​ ​was​ ​force​ ​me​ ​to​ ​be​ ​diverse in​ ​every​ ​realm.​ ​That​ ​varied​ ​background​ ​translated​ ​into​ ​my​ ​influences​ ​and​ ​how​ ​I​ ​write,"​ ​says​ ​Brasher,​ ​who came​ ​up​ ​studying​ ​the​ ​powerful​ ​spirituals​ ​of​ ​Mahalia​ ​Jackson​ ​and​ ​the​ ​close​ ​harmonies​ ​of​ ​Lennon​ ​and McCartney.

She​ ​got​ ​her​ ​showbiz​ ​start​ ​appearing​ ​with​ ​her​ ​family​ ​on​ ​local​ ​televangelist​ ​programs,​ ​then​ ​fronted​ ​a​ ​series of​ ​rock​ ​bands​ ​in​ ​high​ ​school.​ ​But​ ​Brasher​ ​found​ ​her​ ​true​ ​creative​ ​direction​ ​when​ ​she​ ​moved​ ​away​ ​to college​ ​in​ ​Chicago​ ​and​ ​began​ ​studying​ ​the​ ​roots​ ​of​ ​American​ ​music.

Brasher​ ​went​ ​directly​ ​to​ ​the​ ​source​ ​devouring​ ​the​ ​earliest​ ​Delta​ ​Blues​ ​sides:​ ​Geeshie​ ​Wiley,​ ​Elvie Thomas,​ ​Son​ ​House,​ ​Leadbelly.​ ​"And,​ ​in​ ​a​ ​way,​ ​that​ ​led​ ​to​ ​Bob​ ​Dylan,​ ​because​ ​Dylan​ ​took​ ​from​ ​all​ ​those people,"​ ​she​ ​says.​ ​"I​ ​fell​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with​ ​Dylan​ ​and​ ​the​ ​way​ ​he​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​write​ ​pure​ ​folk​ ​songs​ ​ - ​ ​songs​ ​for the​ ​people."​ ​She​ ​soon​ ​picked​ ​up​ ​a​ ​guitar​ ​and​ ​began​ ​teaching​ ​herself​ ​how​ ​to​ ​play.​ ​"What​ ​happened​ ​was my​ ​own​ ​songs​ ​started​ ​flowing​ ​out,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​kept​ ​coming​ ​every​ ​single​ ​day."

Her​ ​material​ ​was​ ​imbued​ ​with​ ​the​ ​elemental​ ​beauty​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Staple​ ​Singers'​ ​earliest​ ​work.​ ​"Pops​ ​Staples played​ ​these​ ​really​ ​singular​ ​guitar​ ​riffs​ ​and​ ​wrote​ ​songs​ ​based​ ​on​ ​that,"​ ​she​ ​says.​ ​"I​ ​wasn't​ ​the​ ​best​ ​guitar player​ ​but​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​what​ ​he​ ​was​ ​doing​ ​was​ ​simple​ ​enough​ ​to​ ​sing​ ​and​ ​write​ ​around.​ ​So​ ​I​ ​started​ ​to​ ​imitate that."​ ​Evolving​ ​her​ ​brand​ ​of​ ​spiritual​ ​soul,​ ​she​ ​found​ ​sustenance​ ​and​ ​further​ ​direction​ ​in​ ​the​ ​discographies of​ ​great​ ​Southern​ ​labels​ ​like​ ​Stax,​ ​Fame​ ​and​ ​Goldwax.

Moving​ ​to​ ​Atlanta,​ ​Brasher​ ​began​ ​performing​ ​professionally,​ ​fronting​ ​a​ ​trio​ ​with​ ​​Todd​ ​​Kerstetter​​ ​​on​ ​bass and​ ​​Lee​ ​​Corum​​ ​on​ ​drums​.​ ​In​ ​early​ ​2017,​ ​she​ ​booked​ ​a​ ​session​ ​for​ ​her​ ​first​ ​album​ ​with​ ​Memphis producer​ ​​Scott​ ​Bomar​,​ ​the​ ​analog​ ​recording​ ​guru​ ​and​ ​leader​ ​of​ ​Bluff​ ​City​ ​retro​ ​soul​ ​band​ ​The​ ​Bo-Keys.​ ​"I sought​ ​out​ ​Scott​ ​because​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​make​ ​a​ ​record​ ​that​ ​was​ ​truly​ ​me,​ ​that​ ​didn't​ ​mask​ ​anything,"​ ​says Brasher.​ ​"I​ ​wanted​ ​the​ ​songs​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​breathe​ ​and​ ​speak​ ​for​ ​themselves.​ ​That's​ ​reminiscent​ ​of​ ​how records​ ​used​ ​to​ ​be​ ​made​ ​and​ ​Scott​ ​was​ ​very​ ​much​ ​on​ ​board​ ​with​ ​that.​ ​He​ ​said​ ​'That's​ ​pretty​ ​much​ ​all​ ​I know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​do.'"

In​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​Brasher​ ​and​ ​her​ ​rhythm​ ​section,​ ​the​ ​sessions​ ​featured​ ​guest​ ​appearances​ ​by​ ​St.​ ​Paul​ ​and the​ ​Broken​ ​Bones​ ​organist​ ​​Al​ ​Gamble​ ​​and​ ​Bo-Keys​ ​horn​ ​men​ ​​Kirk​ ​Smothers​​ ​and​ ​​Marc​ ​Franklin​.​ ​While the​ ​bulk​ ​of​ ​the​ ​recording​ ​was​ ​tracked​ ​at​ ​Bomar's​ ​​Electrophonic​ ​Studio​,​ ​he​ ​and​ ​Brasher​ ​ventured​ ​to other​ ​historic​ ​Memphis​ ​studios,​ ​including​ ​​Ardent​ ​​to​ ​add​ ​strings,​ ​and​ ​​Royal​,​ ​the​ ​home​ ​of​ ​Hi​ ​Records,​ ​to cut​ ​horns.

First​ ​single​ ​"​Cold​ ​Baby​"​ ​plays​ ​like​ ​a​ ​lost​ ​Etta​ ​James​ ​Chess​ ​classic.​ ​"It's​ ​the​ ​same​ ​story​ ​that​ ​probably every​ ​human​ ​has​ ​dealt​ ​with​ ​in​ ​a​ ​relationship:​ ​not​ ​feeling​ ​appreciated,"​ ​she​ ​says.​ ​"It's​ ​actually​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the first​ ​songs​ ​I​ ​ever​ ​wrote​ ​--​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​it​ ​fully​ ​realized​ ​with​ ​the​ ​beautiful​ ​string​ ​arrangement​ ​is​ ​really​ ​amazing."

The​ ​b-side​ ​is​ ​"​Painted​ ​Image​,"​ ​a​ ​haunting​ ​rumination​ ​colored​ ​by​ ​Brasher​ ​and​ ​Memphis​ ​Symphony Orchestra​ ​cellist​ ​​Jonathan​ ​Kirkscey​.​ ​Peering​ ​into​ ​the​ ​embers​ ​of​ ​a​ ​dying​ ​romance,​ ​she​ ​refuses​ ​to surrender​ ​herself.​ ​"It's​ ​about​ ​not​ ​giving​ ​up,​ ​not​ ​giving​ ​into​ ​the​ ​darkness,"​ ​says​ ​Brasher,​ ​offering​ ​a​ ​neat summary​ ​of​ ​her​ ​work.

"The​ ​music​ ​I've​ ​always​ ​loved​ ​most​ ​has​ ​always​ ​been​ ​about​ ​that​ ​ - ​ ​defiance​ ​in​ ​the​ ​face​ ​of​ ​despair.​ ​If​ ​I've managed​ ​to​ ​capture​ ​some​ ​of​ ​that​ ​feeling​ ​with​ ​these​ ​songs,​ ​then​ ​I​ ​feel​ ​like​ ​I've​ ​succeeded."