ZZ Ward to bring her ‘dirty shine’ to DetroitWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
She’s got the sound and look of a star — and one of the coolest names ever: ZZ Ward.
The girl can sing, play piano and guitar, and man, can she rock a hat.
“I started wearing the hat when I was a little kid when I would sing the blues, just because I grew up listening to so many blues artists like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters,” Ward said. “It’s my way of remembering what inspired me in the first place, so it’s my way of paying homage to the blues.”
Born in 1986, Zsuzsanna, ZZ for short, grew up in Roseburg, Ore., in a house with two Hammond B3 organs, a dad who played in a blues band and two older brothers who liked hip-hop.
“I listened to a lot of really strong female vocalists — Etta James, Big Mama Thornton, Tina Turner,” Ward recalled. “I also loved singer-songwriters like David Bowie and Tom Petty and Bob Dylan and artists that had a voice through their song and identity through their writing. That was always really special to me and something I really wanted to be able to do with my own music.”
Her 2012 debut, “Til the Casket Drops,” includes the ultra-catchy hit “Put the Gun Down” and the bouncy follow-up “365 Days.”
“The writing process for me, honestly, with this record it was about the ups and downs of a relationship I was in and just that sometimes it’s not always this perfect love story or that wouldn’t be any fun. It’s a frickin’ roller coaster ride of passion and heartbreak sometimes and then the love that comes out of it,” Ward said during a call from the road en route to a show in Arizona.
“I think that’s what I can really give to people and what I grew up enjoying about music is sincerity and authenticity and real stories and real emotion. And I think because I grew up admiring that so much, I’m just able to kind of convey that, and that’s what this record is about.”
Her powerful voice has been compared to Adele, Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin. She’s received rave reviews from Rolling Stone, NPR and The New York Times.
“I never really expected people to like [my music] as much as they have,” she said. “The publications and all the support from so many outlets is incredibly wonderful, but at the end of the day, the fans liking the music is the most important thing to me.”
She calls her mix of blues, rock, soul and hip-hop “dirty shine.”
“‘Dirty shine,’ to me, it means embracing your authentic self, and I hope that my fans can do that through listening to my record, whatever they want to embrace about themselves,” the singer-songwriter said. “For me, it was just really kind of jumping into a record and not caring about what people were going to think; it was just really making music that I love.”
Ward will bring her Down & Dirty Shine Tour to Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit, on Oct. 6. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Alpha Rev and James Bay will open. Tickets are $15.75.
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