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Byron Shire
June 1, 2023

People get ready, Li’l Fi and gospel is comin’

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Ll’l Fi is launching her new recording this week and The Echo’s Mandy Nolan had a chat with her about what’s new.

I hear you are playing at the Blue Kat on Wednesday night?

Yes, I’m looking forward to that. It’s with most of the musicians that I recorded the album with so it’ll be a great to play the gospel set to an audience again. The last time was on the day of recording. We all went in to the Brisbane Jazz Club and had a hoot. Thierry (the bassman) said he’d never seen that crowd up on their feet before, and we all laughed. So it will no doubt be a memorable evening.

Why a gospel album?

Well, why not? Every other god gets a look in around these hills; I thought I’d speak up for the real one. Also I have been threatening to make a gospel album for many years and it seems like the right time to lift up my voice and sing some praise and hallelujahs. It’s a music so closely associated with the blues. Most of the blues came from the bible belt of the Deep South and I wanted to pay some respect to the influences that have educated me musically and spiritually over the years. I just love the spirit of it, the reckless faith of throwing it all up and seeing what lands. Choosing songs has been a quite a journey; the more you look the more there is.

Li'l-Fi-AAF-24.08.2013 EJTFWho are these influences?

Tommy Dorsey, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples, even Harry Belafonte and Stevie Wonder can be named; certainly Ray Charles… the list could go on and on. I really love the Appalachian sounds too. The movie Cold Mountain was hugely influential as was O Brother Where Art Thou? I have tip my hat to all of the above. The album is about half originals and half reinterpreted covers.

Tell me your favourite track?

Well so far it’s Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho and Shadrack Mechack Abednego. Both cookin’ New Orleans-influenced jazz numbers, but the good old Peace in the Valley and People Get Ready are crackers too. Martha Baartz and Mal Wood were outstanding on the album and Steve Russell’s piano and Hammond are sublime. We had so much fun. Pete Wilkins and Thierry are a remarkably good rhythm section; they really did a fantastic job – it’s just such a joy to play music with them all. This music has contagious joy in it; you can’t help but feel saved when you hear it.

What’s next?

Well I am going in tomorrow to organise the backing vocalists and get some guitar parts down with some of my favourite artists. It’s a bit of a who’s who of guitarists really. Fiona Boyes put a track down, Scrubby Pete Hurcombe is putting a couple on and so are Rupert Jenner and Chris Harvey, so it’s going to be a load of fun.

Then it’s mixing and mastering and artwork from there. The album is being launched in June at the Cooly Rocks festival at Twin towns on 6 June so it’ll have to be out by then. I’m also going to launch my new clothing line Lil’ Fi’s Rockin’ Frocks at that festival so there’s a lot to get on with really. I’ll let you know more about the frocks as it unfolds. I’ve turned them into skirts. There’re too many variables with women’s bosoms.


The Blue Kat at SOHO Lounge this Wednesday.

Opening vocalist will be Amanda Bennett. Limited seating. Tix $20 online atthebluekatbyron.com, limited tickets on the door. Doors 6.30pm for $8 sunset cocktails tiil 8pm. Show 7.30pm. SOHO Lounge, 9 Fletcher Street, Byron Bay.

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