Authenticity. Many say it is what is lacking in today’s country music. New on the scene is Liz Moriondo, young and beautiful with an immensely powerful voice, and most definitely one that is… authentic.
Liz grew up on a farm in Mt. Vernon, MO - one of three children who valued family, God’s love and hard work. Nothing displayed Liz’s strong work ethic more than her life-long devotion to basketball. She was a star in high school, as well as on the road all summer long with her AAU team, earning her a scholarship to play for Drury University, less than an hour from her hometown and large extended family.
“Basketball has taught me so much and allowed me to excel in music,” she claims. “Really the same values that I have applied to my music career, I learned in basketball first. It taught me discipline and sacrifice while learning to work with a team.” That team of music industry professionals is what she has surrounded herself with in order to propel her music career.
She has worked with renowned musician John Willis for over a year, learning to sing in the studio and helping to define her own style. In the studio, Willis jokes with her often, saying that she need only put the “Liz thing” on part of a vocal - referring to a stylistic flourish that is uniquely her own.
She recently went in the studio with producer Paul Jefferson to cut a new EP of tunes that she has written with a stable of A+ writers, including Steve Mitchell, Mark Stephen Jones and many others. "We write really well together - it just clicks. I have really enjoyed learning from them and honing my craft,” she said. Together with Nick Donley, they penned the title track to her forthcoming EP, Down Like Whiskey. With a unique mix of country, rock, and blues, Liz’s style is perfectly on display. It's a sound that Music City is taking notice of, as she is a regular performer at songwriter hot spots like the Bluebird Café, the Listening Room, and Belcourt’s Taps and Tapas. Heard often at her gigs are comparisons of her voice as being a mix of Shania Twain and Bonnie Raitt. “That is so flattering, because they're amazing artists. I'm just trying to do my own thing and build a career that is timeless,” she notes.
A pivotal time in the young singer/songwriter’s life came back in in 2009, when she went to the Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, MO. There she met Damon Smith, a performer in the area. He immediately took a liking to her and saw her obvious charisma. He offered to let her appear on his stage and sing a song. It was the first time Liz had ever performed live with a band, although she has been signing in church since the ripe old age of three. She nailed Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead.” The crowd loved it, and she loved the crowd. At that moment, she was, as they say… hooked! Soon after, she quit basketball altogether, despite the fact that she had completed her grueling summer basketball workouts. She felt strongly that the time was now to move to Nashville and realize her dreams. She recalls that telling her coach about her decision was very difficult. “I sat down and immediately started to cry. My coach said, ‘You're going to go to Nashville, aren’t you? We knew you would. We've seen a change in you.’”
Yes, they also saw the spark that exists in Liz when she is on stage. Liz praises the support her coaches had for her musical passion, and attributes a great deal of her growth as a performer to the doors they opened for her. “Playing basketball on the college level gave me opportunities to open for people like Lee Brice, Sara Evans, and Thompson Square when they would come to my school,” she said, noting that the coaches always put in a good word for her to organizers. “My coaches were amazingly supportive of my music. That's what made it so hard to leave.” But leave she did. She has spent several years developing her live performance, becoming a regular on the Midwest festival circuit and playing alongside artists like Tim McGraw, Train, One Republic, Big & Rich, and Gretchen Wilson.
In 2011, Liz transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, where she now attends class part-time, leaving the rest of her time to focus on music and learn the ropes. She has never looked back… only forward. “I just felt like there was no point in waiting around. I really knew this was the time for me to come to Nashville.” Based on the response she has gotten to her music since she has been here, Music City loves Liz Moriondo and can’t wait to see what the future holds!