Dear Liz McComb,

Your destiny reactivates the voices of the past. As a new diva of the Gospel to
jazzy variations, your song multiplies the mediations between the sacred and the
by taking him out of the churches, by offering the world his credo
vibrating so singular that oscillates between pain and ecstasy. Glossolalia
African-American music and the most mystical forms of the Negro
Spiritual” are the energy of your music. The voice is lively, scratched and
serious, escalating crescendo octaves effortlessly and with power
as generous as it is subtle that moves body and soul, you have joined
in two decades the legends of American black music in him
bringing what musicologist Bill Carpenter calls you the
“world gospel”. In turn earthly, aerial, I paraphrase Tina
Turner in “Proud Mary”: you never do “easy”,
“you always do it nice and rough”, and your flame carries the sweet intoxication
metamorphoses on the scale of feelings.

The sacred fire of Gospel culture has been with you since childhood. Daughter of a
of the few women to serve as pastor in a small
Pentecostal community near Cleveland, your mother’s temple will
conservatory for your promising young voice. In the family,
open-mindedness and musical nomadism predominate: we cross the
Gospels, blues and jazz; The Staple Singers,
Sister Rosetta Tharpe and especially Mahalia Jackson, and today you yourself
also open to Rap or Hip Hop. Your brother became trumpeter
reveals the great figures of jazz, from Louis Armstrong to Charlie
Parker, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan and Aretha Franklin to Max Roach,
Clifford Jordan or John Coltrane.

As a teenager, you join the school and then the troupe of the Karamu House, center
Cleveland, where you learn about African American history and culture.

Everyone compliments you on your voice, and you
secretly dream of Broadway boards. That’s when sustained
by your cousin Annie Moss, you audition and are recruited
in the group The Jean Austin Singers; you discover then the scenes
touring the travelling magazine Roots of
Rock'n'Roll. Then you start your European period, and that’s when
Montreux festival in 1981 that you make your first appearances
flamboyant alongside sacred monsters like Bessie Griffin, Taj
Mahal or Koko Taylor in the first parts of Ray Charles and
James Brown.

Gérard Vacher quickly identifies everything you can bring to the scenes
European music: he becomes your producer and with him, you
will take the road of success. From this meeting will be born two albums in
1992 and 1993, Rock my Soul and Acoustic Woman, and you become this
jazzy gospel superstar you are today. You revisit the
biblical metaphors and the oldest spirituals who carry within them the
from all segregation, such as “Down by the Riverside” or
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. You’re also a high priestess.
of the «melting pot» of all musical styles whose hen’s chair is
The credo, I think of Soul but also Funk.

Located in France, you share between Paris and Cleveland, where
incognito you become from time to time a gospel singer
among others in your mother’s temple, you renew with the
origins of New Orleans’s impetuous cadences in
recording Spirits of New Orleans, a musical testimony from before the
devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. In 2007,
traditional Caribbean drums and blues that inspire and
give us a new opus Soul, Peace and Love. Over the years and
albums, you imposed yourself by an exceptional work
and syncretic. 2006 is a year of consecration: you
receive the Mahalia Jackson Award for Jazz Victories.

Great heiress of the gospel and jazz cultural heritage, which we
found in your last album I Believe, magnificent profession of faith
in religion and music, you are like Aretha Franklin or Nina
Simone an excellent pianist who knew how to surround herself with musicians of

You are a citizen of the world with a voice that rises above the
and is committed to fighting segregation. You are a
ambassador of the Gospel spirit worldwide, as Edith Piaf
could be of the French song. And like Coltrane, you bring
the bustle of jazz the joy of spiritual experience. Today, you
are a great among the great.

Dear Liz Mc Comb, on behalf of the French Republic,
Let us present the insignia of officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.