Liz Vice

Liz Vice has always had a love for storytelling. The Portland native who currently resides in Brooklyn, started her career working behind the scenes in the world of film and video, only to accidentally find herself behind the mic. Liz Vice’s sound is a fusion of Gospel and R&B, with dynamic and soulful vocals, and lyrics, deeply rooted in spirituality, that give her work a timeless feel.

Vice got a knack for performing early. She was raised by her mother as the middle of five children. Every morning growing up, she was awaken by her Mother’s voice singing “rise and shine and give God the glory.” She also found herself frequently stealing away to the basement to dance and lip sync songs from the radio, and soundtracks from her favorite films. Liz taught herself how to play piano, marking the notes on the piano using blue painter’s tape on the the notes of a keyboard, placed by her friends who were taking piano lessons. Her Aunt bought her headphones that she would make young Liz sit with on her head in the living room for hours mimicking the notes she would hear from an instrumental CD.

At the age of 19 Vice’s health declined, and she found herself on hemodialysis for the next three years. Her illness left many scars on her body including those from surgery on a fistula (abnormal connection between an organs). Vice received a kidney transplant in December 2005, which marked the beginning of a time of great healing and perspective.

A year later, Vice became a member of a local church and felt a nudge, that would not leave her alone each Sunday, to sing background vocals on the worship team. Suffering from stage fright, Vice knew that fear could never overpower this unknown “call”. She said yes to the nudge and sang her first solo during a Sunday evening service, “Enfold Me”. The rest is history.

For the past four years, Vice’s music and live performances have put her on the map as an artist to watch. She has been praised and featured by Oregon Public Broadcasts’ One Song, NPR’s World Cafe, Mountain Stage, eTown, NPR’s Weekend Edition, Relevant Magazine, and more. Vice has also been a featured artist in Portland for such events as Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, Moon River, Forecastle, Portland Soundcheck, Soul’d Out Music Festival, Siren Nation Music Festival, Music on Main Street and more.

The title track for her first album “There’s a Light” received over one million streams on Spotify. The success of the record , led to performing and/or sharing the stage with artists such as Joss Stone, Blind Boys of Alabama, Boz Scaggs, The Temptations, Rodriguez, Lake Street Dive, Lecrae, Cody Chesnutt, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Eric Early of (Blitzen Trapper), John Mark McMillan,Sandra McCracken, Josh Garrels, Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Luz Mendoza (Y La Bamba), Eshon Burgundy (Humble Beast), and more.

No matter how large the venue, her genuine approach to her work and playful interaction with the audience makes everyone feel like their sitting at home on the couch watching a friend sing their heart out. Vice is very passionate and has overcome many personal obstacles; she credits her adventurous life to not forcing anything and being willing and available to wherever it is that the LORD leads. "It's all about risk, and taking risk is never regretful...well, most of the time.”
Born the middle of 5 children and raised by a single mother, Vice grew up in Oregon with dreams of becoming a filmmaker. She faced an unthinkable plot twist at the age of 15, though, when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and her kidneys began to fail. By 19, she'd begun what would turn into three-and-a-half years of dialysis, during which time she faced down congestive heart failure, dangerous weight loss, and a series of hospital-borne infections that could have proved fatal to someone in her condition.

"Instead of praying that I would be healed, I was just so tired that I would pray for death every day," she confesses. "But every day I woke up, I decided to live that day to the fullest."

When well enough to work, she put herself through medical assisting school and was blessed with a much-needed kidney transplant. The new lease on life encouraged her to pursue her dream of filmmaking, long-since put on hold in the face of her struggle to survive.

"I decided I was going to make films and put people of color in them with no stereotypes attached," Vice explains. "I wanted to make movies that encouraged people to go out and do something in their lives, that wouldn't make them feel limited because they grew up in a certain neighborhood or family situation."

While working in film, she began attending a new church in Portland and inexplicably found herself compelled to audition for the worship team, a small group of singers and musicians who led the young congregation in contemplative, folk-inspired songs. Overcoming her intense stage fright, she auditioned for Josh White, the pastor of the church and who wrote much of the material for the worship team, and their connection was immediate. Vice began singing in smaller, laid back services during the week, until one Sunday, Vice was called to sing solo in front of the full congregation of nearly 400 parishioners.

"I remember as I was singing, it felt like every pore in my body opened up, and I was just covered in sweat like I had water poured on top of my head," she says. "I was so overwhelmed with the adrenaline of singing a song of that magnitude by myself in front of that many people. It felt like I just went to a new place and everyone disappeared, and then the song was over. There was so much emotion happening I had to sit down. My friend walked onstage in tears and she said, 'What was that?' I looked at her and started crying and said, 'I don’t know.'"

It was a life-changing performance. White decided to give Vice songs he intended for his own solo project. After just one rehearsal, she and the band headed into Jackpot Studios to record all of the instrumentation live to tape. The buzz about the music they were creating was so strong that when they announced a local release show, it sold out almost instantly. Her riveting performance led to dates with Cody Chesnutt and St. Paul & The Broken Bones, as well as a slot at the prestigious Blues Fest, and now, an international release for the album on Ramseur Records.

'There's A Light' opens with the funky R&B of "Abide," Vice's voice sounding like something straight out of the Stax vault over top of a slinky bass and drum groove. On "Empty Me Out," the keyboards take over front and center as Vice's voice grows in rich, expansive layers of harmony. It was hearing the recording of the slow-burning "Entrance" for the first time, though, that convinced her she was creating something special with White.

"When I first listened to the final mix, as soon as it gets to the first 'ooohs,' I couldn't believe that voice was mine," she remembers. "It was the first time I ever heard the things that people kept saying they heard when I sang. I started tearing up and had this moment of, 'Can I cry to my own song?'" she laughs. "It felt like an out of body experience."

The wailing vocals on "The Source" are the stuff that goosebumps are made of, while Vice found herself channeling Michael Jackson on "Everything Is Yours" and pushing deep into the kind of questions about faith and spirituality that one rarely has the courage to ask in church on "Enclosed By You."

Though it's not filmmaking like she originally dreamed of, Vice has found music to be a vehicle for the same type of positive social influence she hoped to have as a director. She imagines the up-tempo gospel of "Pure Religion" as the kind of song a mother might sing to her children to keep them on the right track, and "All Must Be Well" is a message of resilience and survival through hard times. It's perhaps on the title track, though, that we hear the purest expression of love and hope, with Vice joyfully singing "There's a light shining over me" throughout the two-minute, feel-good album closer.

There is indeed a light shining over Liz Vice. It saved her all those years ago just when she thought her life was ending, and it shone down upon a new calling, one in which she gets up onstage every night and shares that light with the world. Come what may, Liz Vice is gonna let it shine.

Zoser

Tapping into the current musical zeitgeist, the music of singer-songwriter, Zo, is shaped by musical mix masters such as Ed Sheeran, Lenny Kravitz and John Mayer; combining elements of seemingly disparate musical forms and influences, to develop a sound that is wholly and truly his own.

The young Augusta, GA native turned Seattle artist began playing guitar when he was just 10-years-old and by the time he reached 12, Zo was penning his own lyrics. Although Zo has been writing and performing for years, 2018 will see the first commercial release of his music.

In Zo’s hands, a simple six-string acoustic becomes both a beat box, lending percussive bass to his hip-hop rhymes, and a direct ticket to Laurel Canyon, recalling the free and easy feelings of the California folk rock revolution.

And while Zo willfully and wantonly pulls from any musical movement he finds appealing - from rock, pop and soul to folk or hip-hop - there is a component too often found in a typical young songwriter’s toolbox that is notably missing.

Affectation.

You see, Zo never sounds like his influences. He infuses each performance – be it his own tune or a carefully curated cover – with the sense of self and assurance that separates mere performers from true artists. His greatest gift is his ability to serve the song while willing it to become an extension of his own aesthetic.

The result is something spectacular to behold: a voice that conveys a world-weary ache and a bright optimism, a sense of musicality that is at once, both rhythmic and infectiously melodic. He is a singer, a storyteller and something of a revelation – not necessarily a soul singer but something more rare and precious – a singer with soul.

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