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Liz Larin (born Mary Elizabeth Larin) is a Detroit-based singer-songwriter and rock musician who has risen to become one of the most celebrated artists of the Detroit music scene. In 2003, when readers of Jam Rag Magazine voted her #1 out of 80 Detroit acts, Jam Rag featured her on the cover as "Detroit's Goddess of Rock," a title that is now used to describe her at the venues in which she plays. In 2004 she swept the Detroit Music Awards with her album The Story of O-Miz, beating out better known Detroit-area artists such as Eminem, White Stripes and The Funk Brothers. In 2006 she dominated the Detroit Music Awards again with her latest release, Wake Up, Start Dreaming, garnering top awards including "Outstanding Rock Artist/Group," "Outstanding Rock/Pop Recording," "Outstanding Rock/Pop Songwriter," "Outstanding Rock Instrumentalist (guitarist)," and "Outstanding Rock/Pop Vocalist."
Larin is known for her soul-searching lyrics, her eclectic tracks, her award-winning acoustic guitar work, and her powerful and evocative vocals. The Metro Times writes "Although sometimes compared to Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair, Avril Lavigne, PJ Harvey, Liz Larin has style all her own." RockWorld says of Larin, "Her music is in the realm of say, Bonnie Raitt but much, much better."
A self-taught guitarist and pianist from the age of ten, by the age of 15 she was asked to teach guitar at the local music store. In the store she made connections with musicians of many styles and was soon playing jam sessions across the city. When Liz announced to her parents she was going to join a rock band, her parents objected. Liz left home at age 16, supporting herself by teaching guitar and playing gigs.
Rebel Heels, Atlantic Records, and her solo debut
Along with guitarist and songwriter Michael King, Larin formed Press. The band later added Danny Cox as drummer/percussionist. The band changed its name to Rebel Heels and signed with Atlantic Records in 1987.
Los Angeles: Can You Give Us More Sexy?
Larin became disillusioned with life in the music business of Los Angeles. In an interview with Liz Hill of Strut Magazine, Larin says, "It wasn't about listening to the music. It was all about what I looked like." Hill continues, "Label executives and publicity folks wanted Larin, whose songs are tough, independent pop-rock anthems, to sex up her image."
Return to Detroit
According to Larin, "My life had become surreal and I wanted to return to playing music. Detroit is a real music town and its reputation for great musicians is right on. I found myself wanting to write and play, more than ever, for the sheer joy of it."
Merry Wicked, her first independent album, was released in 1999. Lacking the support of a major label, it went nowhere on the national charts, but it opened doors in Detroit where audiences could directly experience her powerful ballads and rock anthems themselves. Liz also returned to her family and her musical roots, and her life no longer felt "surreal." The focus on music, and not on image, opened up a creative well-spring that would catapult her to the top of the Detroit music scene over the next five years.
The Story of O-Miz
The Story of O-Miz (2002) broke it open for Liz Larin. With the LA publicity types now in her past, Larin focused on working with the top musicians in the Detroit area. Her sound became even more emotionally intense. The album took advantage of the skills of Robert Tye on guitar, James Simonson and Chuck Bartels on bass guitar, and Todd Glass and Dave Taylor on drums. Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge lent drums and vocals to the track "Pretty Is."
Liz Larin won six categories in the 2003 Detroit Music Awards, including "Outstanding Pop Artist Group," "Outstanding Rock/Pop Instrumentalist," and "Outstanding Rock/Pop Vocalist."
- One By One By One (album), 1988, Atlantic Records. With Michael King- guitar, Danny Cox - drums. Produced by Rupert Hine.
- Test Your Faith (album), 1993, Atlantic Records. Produced by Ben Grosse (Filter, Ben Folds, Vertical Horizon). Guitarist Randy Jacobs (Seal, Tears for Fears, Was Not Was). Drummer Tony Thompson (Chic, Bowie, Power Station).
- Merry Wicked (album), 1999, Bona Dea Music. Produced by Scott Spock.
- The Story of O-Miz' (album), 2002, Bona Dea Music. With Robert Tye on guitar, James Simonson and Chuck Bartels on bass guitar, Todd Glass and Dave Taylor on drums and Roscoe of Roscoe's Recording as co-producer (Sponge, Brothers Groove).
- Wake Up, Start Dreaming (album), 2005, Bona Dea Music.
- Stella 13 (album), 2008, Bona Dea Music.
- Blue Circus Life (album), 2008, Bona Dea Music.
- Luster Kraft (album), 2008, Bona Dea Music.