Elizabeth Sullivan is a girl adrift. The New York based singer/songwriter pens moving, ethereal numbers that seem lost in time, songs culled from a lifetime marked by emotional hardship and spiritual exploration. “Like a flower upon your chest,” Sullivan’s softly evocative words land quietly but summon much. Comparisons to Tori Amos are frequent and wont, but Sullivan is writing her own fairytale and cutting an emotive style from her own cloth.
Since the age of six, Elizabeth Sullivan has turned to music—first the piano, later guitar, always singing—as “a way to escape into another world.” Singing for Sullivan was from the beginning something “instinctual, like breathing.” Youthful choir experiences and subsequent voice lessons led her eventually to the Ithaca School of Music to study vocal performance. After 2 _ years in school, however, a tragic revelation that would come to mark the most significant moment in the young songwriter’s life, forced her to leave her schooling behind and to immerse herself deeper into music.
These are songs that are romantic, in the traditional sense. Mysterious, airy, ethereal, remote—belonging in some undeniable way to a bygone era of chivalry and catharsis. Elizabeth Sullivan writes songs as confessionals. The result is an encounter with intimacy, a poetic liaison whose purpose of healing cannot be ignored. “I just didn’t see the point in going to class everyday when my mother was dying,” says Sullivan about learning of her mother’s cancer. Following her mother’s death, the songwriter rediscovered the musical escape she had so cherished as a child. She wrote intensely and finally began sharing her music with the world.
The resultant offerings filled the spaces of small New York City clubs, transporting audiences as Sullivan herself was transported daily by her songwriting. What followed for the songwriter was a wealth of life experience—“traveling, searching, growing, writing.” Always writing. After landing back in Ithaca, Sullivan found her way into Zen Buddhist meditation at a nearby Zen Center. There she stayed for six months, studying Zen, realizing life. Of late, Elizabeth Sullivan has been collaborating with accomplished songwriter/producer Dante Lattanzi, a versatile artistic professional who has worked with the likes of blues artist Shemekia Copeland and New Orleans legend Dr. John, and whose passion for music has met its mach in Sullivan. The two assert a bond beyond their partnership in songwriting, instrumentation and production, one that serves only to enhance the quality of the work they bring to life. Says Lattanzi, “We work so comfortably and fluidly together it’s as if we’ve known each other musically and spiritually for years.”
Elizabeth and her band are currently performing in the New York City area, and preparing for a national tour. A native of Upstate New York, she was classically trained as a voice major at Ithaca College, and has travelled about the country since college in search of her true path, spreading rose petals along the way in places like LA, Seattle, Syracuse and Ithaca. An Oswego, N.Y. native who now lives in Green Point, Brooklyn, her formative musical years involved coping with the untimely death of her mother, whose inspiration and strong heart gave rise to many of Elizabeths early lyrical musings. After a journey to many parts of the country, including a summer spent at a retreat in a Zen monastery, she has gathered her strength, focused her vision, and is at the top of her vocal, lyrical and songwriting game.
Her grief has been turned into strength, and her soulful serenity projects a solid on stage presence that will leave you moved, touched, and wanting to sing along. Her latest recording, “All that I am” is now available on iTunes, and she is working on the release of several other songs which will soon join her Itunes repertoire. Her song “Nothing at All” helps you to rise from the valley to the mountains, and eventually to the clouds! Once you hear Elizabeth Sullivan, your heart will be hooked and your soul set on a transformational path.
Elizabeth Sullivan’s music is a testament to all of this and more. Her songs have the strange tendency to betray both vulnerability and confidence, melancholy and triumph. We might expect the former from a young voice drawing on so somber a life experience. It is a tribute to her poetic buoyancy and sheer songwriting skills that Sullivan invokes the latter as well.