E l i z a b e t h M i s


Elizabeth Mis – Forever & Ever


When you listen to the music of Elizabeth Mis, you’re hearing the manifestation of a brighter tomorrow. The very sound of the young soprano saxophonist’s horn and compositions reveal a style and grace beyond her years. It is the sound of an open heart – a spirit at peace and on a trajectory to spread love to all within earshot of her horn. Her debut album is titled Forever & Ever because that is whole-heartedly how long she wants to soothe listeners with her divinely inspired melodies. Shepherded into the spotlight by prolific pop instrumental producer/guitarist Paul Brown, Elizabeth has crafted a tranquil yet groovin’ debut with broad appeal for all.

Elizabeth Mis (pronounced “miss”) was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been a musician since elementary school. Her first instrument was clarinet. “I started in third grade because I wanted to be part of the band,” she shares. “I took lessons but I never really liked the sound of the instrument. Then when I was 12, I heard Kenny G. Even though he was playing a soprano sax, his sound wasn’t like a saxophone and definitely not like my clarinet. It was something in between and that sound changed my life.” 

Amazingly, the first time Elizabeth placed a soprano saxophone to her lips, she was able to elicit a beautiful sound from the instrument. “My tone pretty much came to me. I had no idea it was unusual or special. It was just what I did - a God given gift that I could blow it like I did the very first time I picked it up.” Still, when Elizabeth is passionate about something, she puts her all into it. Before she even got her first soprano sax, Elizabeth bought books and studied the fingering so that by the time she did own one, she already knew what she was supposed to do.

An advantage that Elizabeth had over other aspiring musicians her age was that she was home schooled from the fourth grade on. This gave her extra time not only to practice her music but also perform around her community - from churches to mall openings. “My school day wasn't as long as kids’ in regular school,” she explains. “I got my work done early which gave me the rest of the day. Sometimes I did two performances in one day. My very first gig was at a warehouse that sold music accessories. I was a regular customer and they liked me, so they asked me to play for their holiday party.” Having discovered a way to mix the horn out of her favorite Dave Koz and Kenny G CDs, Elizabeth would play their parts herself.

As she continued exploring, Elizabeth found that she appreciates a wide variety of music. “I don't listen to a lot of pop radio,” she confesses, “but I keep up with everything out there that young people listen to. I like Rihanna mostly for the beats in her music. Incorporating that style into what I do instrumentally will be kind of cool. I also appreciate John Legend for bringing back the old school sound and making it new. I have classic R&B faves like Sade and Stevie Wonder, and I like a little rock which I’ve played in jam sessions. I've also played some straight ahead jazz in certain situations, too, but I guess my forte is what’s been given the name ‘smooth jazz,’ a term I don’t really care for. To me, smooth jazz is Instrumental R&B-Pop.” 

When it comes to “Instrumental R&B-Pop,” Elizabeth could not have picked a better expert to be the dream producer of her debut album than Paul Brown. Also a guitarist and composer, he has literally worked with every major artist in the genre and taken their music straight to the top of the charts. “I do a lot of research into anything I’m passionate about so I knew he was the man,” she states. “The only problem was in all my extensive research I could not find a way to contact him directly. Then, out of the blue, I heard on the radio that he was coming to play a small venue downtown - his first time playing Cleveland. I couldn't believe it! I wanted to meet him and play with him as part of his show, so my Mom and I went to the venue early. We got there just after his sound check and I just asked him. He said, ‘Sure you can play with me’ – and he hadn’t even heard me play a note! My Mom ran home to get my horns before he could think twice. Anyway, I played with him and after the show he agreed right there to produce me!” This boldness in Ms. Mis is not uncommon. She exudes professionalism, confidence and class. 

When it comes to creating her music, Elizabeth is a night bird - very nocturnal. Many times, her horn doesn’t even make it out of the case until `round about 11P.M. “That's when the inspiration comes,” she says – “just the way I am.” Night time is when the seeds for songs like the serene “When the Time is Right” were sown right there in her Cleveland bedroom before she brought them to Brown for consultation. “It was a challenge at first,” she says of the collaboration process. “We started out working over the phone and email. We discussed direction then I worked out what I'd do with a particular song on my horn. By the time I flew to L.A. to complete the sessions, it was much easier for me to write and come up with horn parts. What helped most was being in the studio with Paul…creating the music in the moment. It was a dream come true.” 

Along with Paul, Elizabeth also worked with pros like Jeff Caruthers and Gerald McCauley. Out poured songs like the feel good and funky “And That’s O.K.,” the laidback “Feelin’ Fine,” the romantic friends in love opus “I Can’t Believe” (featuring vocals by Herbert Woods), and the moody cool of “With the Top Down” (on which Elizabeth’s soprano sax meets the alto sax of Anthony Long). A more tender spirituality informs the John Stoddart composition “In My Corner” (with beautiful acoustic guitar work by Paul), which is followed by the sunny sassy friendship pledge “If You Need a Friend” (featuring lead singer Jeanette Martin). 

Also special is “Akwaba,” a melody that originally had the working title “African Happy.” Elizabeth co-wrote this song with Paul Brown and Roberto Vally whose daughter lives in South Africa. To tie in the culture, they titled it “Akwaba,” the word for “hello” in regions of South Africa. Finally, the CD’s closer is a cover of “I Swear,” a big pop hit by vocal quartet All-4-One in 1994. Surprisingly, Elizabeth was not familiar with the epic love ballad. “When Paul brought it to me I was so moved,” she remembers. “It worked beautifully on the soprano sax.”

Elizabeth is thankful for the opportunities to pursue her dream, but also takes time to give back to others through work with charitable organizations such as African Aid (to which she plans to donate her publishing proceeds from “Akwaba”), Invisible Children and many others. One she has worked with for a while now is Wigs for Kids. “At 14, I started doing things to raise money for the organization which is based here in Cleveland. People from all over the country cut off their ponytails and donate the hair to kids with cancer so they can look like themselves again.”

She has also been putting her creativity and computer savvy to other extracurricular challenges such as creating a marketing campaign for her favorite perfume, Angel. “The first time I saw it in a store,” she begins, “I was intrigued by the variety of beautiful bottles it came in - hand-cut crystal star bottles. Then I experienced the perfume! I came to know everyone from the store level on up to the company's New York execs. For 15 years, they did no advertising - just word of mouth from women who wore it - and were outselling Chanel. I wanted to do something for Angel, so I sent them a handmade portfolio with some other ideas on how I thought they could promote Angel. The musical component was a short video I produced using photos I received from sales reps at the store. I wrote the music for the 2-minute piece…the first time I composed something completely different from what my music sounds like.” 

However, Elizabeth’s main focus is getting the rest of the world familiar with the sound of her horn. Her most memorable performance to date was in September `08 when she played the Detroit Jazz Festival, sitting in with Paul Brown on a couple of tunes. “I felt like a true smooth jazz artist playing for Paul’s crowd. They treated me like a star, interviewing me afterward and everything. I thought, ‘Wow, I could do this every night!’” 

With all of her heart and hard work, Elizabeth will be blowing all of her aspirations into sweet top-selling reality. “My biggest career goal is to bridge the gap and get the young people of my generation more interested in instrumental music,” she says. Tapping back into the theme of her debut album, she thoughtfully concludes, “What Forever & Ever means to me is that from the very first day I picked up the soprano sax, I started dreaming...not just little ones but big ones, with each goal bringing me closer to the next one. I hope that through my music I can encourage others to follow their dreams...something I intend to be doing forever and ever.” 

(January 2009)