"Most slept on black folk singer. I listen to her when I want to be high on my soul." A quick youtube search on the Lilli Lewis moniker will reveal plenty of earnest little morsels from the artist, and comments like this one followed up with the inevitable "Why haven't I heard of you before?"
It could be because for the last 5 years, the deceptively shy soul/folk songstress from Athens, GA has been living in Louisiana, making "hallelujah and shake your booty" music with The Shiz, an original roots rock and soul band said to have "enough energy to power a large city." (indie-music.com)
Lilli formed The Shiz with her wife, Liz Hogan in January of 2009 when they moved to Liz's hometown of Hammond, LA after spending one and a half years working at a Buddhist retreat center in Northern Colorado. Hogan, herself a folk artist to the bone, with a penchant for silt rivers and old songs in minor keys, says they found their indie rock alter-ego because "being an artist and being gay in small town Louisiana makes people want to be loud sometimes."
The two were already mutually inspired by the likes of Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Indigo Girls, and Toshi Reagon, but on long road trips across the country they began to discover deeper resonances in their respective musical languages. Liz shared artists and icons like Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty, and her personal giant, Neil Young, while Lilli handed down the likes of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Giant Steps himself, John Coltrane.
Hogan and Lewis found in each other's writing, a compulsion to speak on weighted truths more elusive than what they tended to hear from their peers, and when they finally started writing together, they found the substance in their differences made it real.
The line-up was nailed down in 2012 with the addition of Wade Hymel on drums and David Alan Craig on bass, and in 2013 the band climbed to Reverbnation's Top 10 New Orleans Rock Charts, was a regional finalist in the Hard Rock Cafe's Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands, was an inaugural feature for the re-launch of indie-music.com, and gained "Next Big Thing" kudos on AfterEllen.com. Recent singles can be heard on radio all about the region, including New Orlean's signature station, WWOZ.
The band name first designed to keep the project from taking itself too seriously has now come to represent a calling. It calls for its members and fans alike to invest in things that are good, things that matter. They affirm that art still matters, music still matters, and people pouring their everything into something for no other reason than the love they may hold for it still matters. Any music born in that room is what this band proudly calls Shiz Rock.