With vocals said to have “enough energy to power a large city, Lilli Lewis is a singer, pianist, and composer of rare grace and grit. Paired with a love for music that began before she composed her first song on the piano at age three, her progressive, provocative, and conscientious presence is fueled by a boundless appetite for poetry and rhythm. Whether looping solo a cappella as “a one woman Sweet Honey in the Rock,” throwing down with full on soul psychedelica, the Athens, Georgia native has the power to stir even the stiffest listener.
Even though she was born to a Baptist minister in the deep south, Lewis grew up studying classical music, spending countless hours at the piano decoding Brahms and Beethoven well into the late hours of the night. She also knew she loved to sing from a very early age, and her near obsession with harmony led to early experiments in recording and overdubbing her voice to analog tape, a practice that ultimately made her a 2008 NewSong Competition regional finalist, and the A Cappella Recording Awards 2009 runner-up for best world-folk album, a title she shared with the Grammy Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It was upon her first hearing of the earthy a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock as a young teenager that Lewis determined she would have a musical story to tell outside of the world of classical music.
Since then, she’s been a featured performer on main stages across the US and abroad, making her home in New Orleans in 2014 and quickly becoming a sought after side arm to some of New Orleans’ most musical elite, including Dirty Dozen Brass Band founding member and sousaphone master Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove. Equal parts unassuming and fearless, her own full band known simply as the The Lilli Lewis Project, features the Dozen’s own Takeshi Shimmura on lead guitar. The 8 piece is a rhythm and soul orchestra ensemble of depth, girth and decibels that delivers “innovative, soulful music that will never go out of style.”