Lizzie Wann put in 500 hours of massage therapy training, but never got her license. Instead, she found the lure of the local arts scene too great to ignore.
She began producing local events that mixed poetry and music in 1996. “As a poet who wanted to expose more people to the spoken word, I paired local poets with local singer/songwriters in a series I called ‘Live Out Loud,’” she says. “I also hosted poetry readings and the occasional slam.” In 2000, she decided to focus on producing house concerts and founded Meeting Grace, hosting shows in her Golden Hill home that featured both local and touring artists.
During this time, Wann also became the “house concert guru” for local folk duo Berkley Hart, helping them spread their music through intimate in-home performances and creating a multitude of concert and spoken-word series all over San Diego. She also hosted an all-night gathering of poets called Thee Word Rave, the brainchild of poet Lob, of Thee Instagon Foundation.
Not all of these events went smoothly. “One time, I set up Paypal to accept presale tickets for a Berkley Hart show. I’m not sure what happened, but I had people who had paid and had printouts that I didn’t have on my list, and folks who paid but never showed up.”
After moving out of Golden Hill and taking a year off from show promotion, some friends offered up their home in Normal Heights to continue Meeting Grace. The first event in the new space was in February 2004 and shows continued through most of 2008. Since then, she’s been booking countless concerts at Swedenborg Hall, hosting benefits to raise money and awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), revived her Live Out Loud series, and can be seen every now and then reading her own poetry at venues around town.
Wann (who once opened forJewel at SDSU) has a CD called A Wing and a Prayer, which includes spoken-word passages with musical accompaniment by local talents such as Gregory Page, Berkley Hart, and John Katchur, all of whom have performed at her various house concert events around town. Its 17 tracks include “The Kind of Smoker I Would Be,” “Fire and Fiddle,” “Blues Drop,” “Ode to My Hair,” and “For Jeff Buckley,” concerning the cult singer/songwriter who passed away in 1997.