“I need to see swaying, I need to see smiles and I need to hear laughter.”
On Friday night, gospel and R&B singer Liz Vice breathed Dimnent Chapel to life with her warm, commanding and soulful voice. Opening with her own downtempo rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Vice proved that her vocal range is as deep as the ocean and her own spirit is ageless.
Her honesty made the audience feel like her friend. She was open about how she prefers to sit for most of her performances, because she both hates wearing heels and still has stage fright, even after performing for three years. She especially earned our trust by admitting to student loans she still carries from her days in film school. Vice used her time on the stage for more than just singing her songs — she talked to us in-between songs about her journey as a musician, asked us to dance and sing her backup and asked the audience to come together and hold hands as we sang along.
Accompanied by her pianist and drummer, tambourine in hand, Vice performed a variety of songs from her 2015 album, “There’s a Light,” songs that will be released on her upcoming and currently untitled album and sprinkled in covers of the aforementioned “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Magic” by Coldplay, “Crazy” by Gnarles Barkeley and “No Diggity” by Blackstreet. Every song exuded power, as each instrument took turns demanding to be heard in all their glory. There is an obvious influence of jazz and classical music in Vice’s sound, and it made members of the crowd roll their shoulders, snap their fingers or clap their hands, loosening invisible ties with every beat.
“Baby Hold On” is Vice’s most vulnerable song on her upcoming sophomore album, which will come out in the spring. She explains that at one point she told her friend, “I don’t know why I’m doing this, I’m tired [of making music].” Vice, like many artists, was in the process of writing new songs and became frustrated, fearing she was not good enough. What she told us next was pure inspiration: “You can either see yourself as a burnt-up piece of wood or you can see yourself as a piece of gold being refined… and that is how gold becomes more pure – when you’re in the fire and there is pressure.” Throughout the song itself, Vice sings about how God will always be there for her throughout her pain and strife as she moves along in her life. No matter how tired or doubtful she may get, God is there to remind her to “hold on.”
“Now I’m going to take a poll on this next song, does anyone know ‘Empty Me Out’?” she asked, while the crowd cheered. “Alright, I need a choir. You can climb on the stage, I don’t know the rules!” She went on to say that she has sung this song so much since releasing it in 2015 that she wanted people from the audience to sing along with her. It did not take long for her to realize the impact she had on Hope students with this one song, as the stage began to fill, and all were eager to sing their favorite worship song with the musician who created it.
It’s not often that you have the opportunity to meet the artist behind the music you hold dear to your heart. For many of the chapel-goers that constantly yearn for “Empty Me Out” to be played by the worship team every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Nov. 11 was truly a night to remember and Vice did not disappoint. The combination of her authoritative voice and endearing personality made for an inspiring performance.
For more information on Liz Vice, her tour, press or upcoming album, visit www.lizvice.com or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.