Lizza Connor Since art is a reflection of life, singer/songwriter Lizza Connor welcomes the listener to her perspective via her tastefully executed debut, Runaway. Connor, winner in the prestigious Merlefest songwriting competition, fuses her personal journal of experience and observations on life in song. The result is a unique blend country, bluegrass, gospel and folk music.
As a daughter of Northern Florida and now a Nashville transplant, Connor grew up on an eclectic diet of sounds from country singers like George Jones and Tammy Wynette, cowboy poets Ian Tyson and Eddy Arnold, pop songwriters such as Simon and Garfunkel, and southern gospel/bluegrass staples like Ricky Scaggs and Jeff and Sheri Easter. She hit her own musical stride at 15, when a golf tournament inspired her to her current profession.
A friend of the family set up a charity tournament to raise support for Connor's father's regional political campaign, and Vince Gill signed on to attend the event and perform a benefit concert at the request of a participating golf pro/campaign supporter. Over the course of 18 holes, Gill got word that Connor was a big admirer of his and shared his love for acoustic music.
Mid-concert Gill invited Connor to share the stage for a song, and the event became the catalyst that prompted her to pursue her passion for music. Following the concert, Connor bought her first guitar and has since been honing her musical skills with weekly guitar lessons and a regular schedule of writing.
Throughout high school and college, Dennis Dunn, a Florida folksinger and blacksmith for the family's farm, took Connor as a musical apprentice. He encouraged her to write about real life, instructed her on studio techniques at his studio, and invited her to sit in and play at his own locals gigs.
Connor continued to pursue her love of music and writing at small liberal arts school in the Appalachian Hills of East Tennessee. Her creative writing professor pointed her toward the music of Nanci Griffith, and she added singer/songwriters like Neil Young, Emmy Lou Harris and Bob Dylan to her list of influences while incorporating the mountain sounds of the region into her own art.
In 1998, Connor won a scholarship to study English and Irish literature at London's Imperial College, and the following year, she attended England's Oxford University for religious studies. During her time abroad, Connor took the opportunity to backpack across Europe and Britain. Her travels inspired a deep love for landscapes, a curiosity for other cultures, and an interaction with characters that would color her writing.
This March, Connor releases her debut album, Runaway. Produced by Andrew Osenga and Connor, both 25, Runaway is 'sure to move a variety of music lovers,' says Chicago Tribune writer Andy Argyrakis. Awards in various singer/songwriting contests, the latest being a prize in the Merlefest songwriting competition which launched the likes of Gillian Welch and Tift Merrit, a recent semi-finalist win in the International Songwriting Competition from over 11,000 entries, and top honors in the singer/songwriter competition at Suwannee Springfest (Florida's premier folk festival) have affirmed that Connor is on track for what she's always known as her first love and calling.