Best known for her Tony Award-nominated portrayal of Shug Avery in the Broadway musical version of The Color Purple, vocalist Elisabeth Withers is also a longtime singer/songwriter with a bent toward neo-soul and R&B. Born in Joliet, IL, Withers left home with a scholarship to study music at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. After graduating, she moved to New York City to attend NYU and graduated with a master's degree in 2000. Prior to her appearance on Broadway, Withers sang backup for a variety of artists, including Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez. It was also during this time that she began writing and releasing dance singles under the alias Elle Patrice. Fortuitously, it was Withers' two hit singles released under her alias, "Rising" and "Emotions," that garnered the attention of soul artist Nick Ashford, who directed Withers toward the auditions for the Broadway production of The Color Purple. Withers released her debut solo album, It Can Happen to Anyone, on Blue Note in 2007. ~ Matt Collar
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