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Obviously I am missing something obvious.

I have:

lis = {"a"}|{"b"}|{"c"}

but I want:

lis2 = "a"|"b"|"c"

Thanks as always for suggestions...

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Use lis[[All, 1]] or First /@ list. See Part and First.

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You can also Apply (@@@) Sequence at level 1:

Sequence @@@ lis

"a" | "b" | "c"

Also

## & @@@ lis

"a" | "b" | "c"

Alternatively, use ReplaceAll to replace List with Sequence:

lis /. List -> Sequence

"a" | "b" | "c"

Additional methods:

MapAt[Sequence &, lis, {All, 0}]
ReplacePart[lis, {_, 0} :> Sequence]
lis[[All, 0]] = Sequence; lis

all give "a" | "b" | "c".

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