I adore people like Lilli Lewis. Besides being an extraordinarily talented artist who creates outstanding music, she is a mover and shaker positively influencing the community through her grassroots, social change efforts. Lewis’ single “My American Heart,” off her upcoming album, “Americana” demonstrates a caliber of genius. Lewis’ voice is breathtaking. She launches the song gently, sweetly and then soars effortlessly, displaying operatic qualities. (This makes sense since she was trained as an opera singer.) When Lewis hits the high notes, she personifies a contemporary Jessye Norman if folk rock had been her genre. The first lines introducing the perfectly placed, dramatic, rich expressiveness denoted in opera envelop my being. “My American heart. Knows you are more than just an able body. Hopes if your able body ever falters. Your wellness won't have much in the way.” All the instrumentals provide the appropriate support to Lewis, with the acoustic guitar and fiddle grounding the tune creating an ideal folkie, warm flavor.
It’s not at all surprising “My American Heart” has been hurting. Failed leadership, astronomical COVID deaths, inequity, losses surrounding normality are just some of the challenges underscored in 2020. Lewis’ lyrics are moving, bringing attention to our current climate. Particularly, the single illustrates Lewis’ commitment to making sense of the issues while simultaneously working towards the greater good. “We're in a difficult conversation. One that might go on for years. But in this difficult conversation. I want you to know I can see you, know I can hear you. Know I still pray for you. With my American heart.”
Lewis’ drive to make a positive impact seems to be a motivating factor in her music career. She collaborated with Corey J The Rapper and Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove to create the “MASK UP!” video that promotes wearing face coverings for the betterment of public health. The alliance showcases her varied repertoire. Through rap Lewis brings a critical message to the youth of New Orleans. (I know Lewis will be busy promoting her album, but in 2021 we need her to take on another vital gig. A pro-vaccine PSA must be next considering the success of “MASK UP.”) I am confident Lewis’ new record, “Americana” will be marvelous, not just in musicality but in creating deeper awareness of critical issues. Hope could have been lost this year. Lewis and dynamic people like her reignite my faith in humanity.