Liz Brasher makes her own kind of southern music — one that's caught halfway between the garage, the church, the bar, and the bedroom. She's a soul singer. A guitar-playing rocker. A one-woman girl group. A gospel revivalist who sings the praises of secular bands like the Box Tops.
It's a diverse sound rooted in the influence of Brasher's two homes: her adopted hometown of Memphis, where she recorded her debut LP, Painted Image, for Fat Possum Records; and her childhood stomping grounds in rural North Carolina, where she was raised in a musical, multi-ethnic household.
"I'm half Dominican, half Italian, and also Southern," says the songwriter, who grew up singing Baptist hymns in an all-Spanish church. "It's a different type of southerner, and that's why the music I make sounds like a different type of the south. By nature, I'm mixed. That's been my whole life — having to reconcile two different cultures, or the religious and secular world, or the different genres that have all influenced me. From the time I was born, I realized I was going to be a big mix."
Brasher's musical horizons expanded as she grew older. Raised on everything from the spirituals of Mahalia Jackson and harmony-heavy hooks of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, she moved to Chicago during her late teens. There, as a college student living far north of the Mason-Dixon line, she gained a new appreciation for the sound of her southern roots. She dove deep into the early icons of American music, from Stephen Foster to Delta Blues heavyweights like Geeshie Wiley and Leadbelly. That led to an appreciation for latter-day pioneers like Bob Dylan and the Staple Singers, two acts that modernized old-school American traditions to suit a new generation. Inspired, Brasher taught herself to play guitar, then began writing songs shortly thereafter.