Written by 3:56 pm Art Is Essential

Art Is Essential January 2021

Writers on the art that matters to them. #ArtIsEssential

Deep, Dank, and Holy

Lisa Poulson

I sit in my apartment in San Francisco, avoiding the virus, listening to the blues. Lizz Wright’s opulent, custardy voice singing “Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You” contains all the ravishing wisdom, love, voluptuous misery, and joy a woman’s soul can express. Eyes closed, ears open, I find myself swaying, awash in exquisite and bittersweet feeling, near tears.

Something buried in me unfurls itself–feelings so old and deep that no words can meet them, feelings that have lain unseen, unspoken, unhealed. I didn’t know that my heart had been waiting for a translator that could speak its wordless language, that it would recognize itself in her first slow and perfect word, “Darling.”

Ultramarine is a color of power. It vibrates with magisterial and celestial life, demanding to be seen. Cerulean is hopeful and radiant, the sky behind the putti in a Boucher painting. Slate is sturdy and ubiquitous, the quietly complex color of rooftops all over the world. Turquoise is a place– the American southwest, Tibet. None of these colors is what I feel when Lizz sings. No, her voice is a deep, velvety indigo.

Within her gorgeously layered performance lies a knowing, holy hope– a hope that can be trusted because it has felt every corner of despair. Her voice pours itself into my shadowy lost places, inviting me to see that I am not and never have been alone, reminding me that the world may be broken now, but we will heal.


Lisa Poulson is a San Franciscan who writes about the complex beauty of female power.


American jazz and gospel singer Lizz Wright was born in Georgia in 1980. Her first album, entitled Salt, was released in 2003 and reached number two on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz chart.

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