ZZ Ward: I used to open for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
ZZ Ward -- based in Los Angeles, by way of Roseburg, Oregon -- is lighting up the music scene at the moment with her version of blues meets soul. Ward's show at the Varsity Theater sold out in five minutes -- operations manager of the Varsity, Shayna Melgaard, was impressed that even her mom knew who Ward was, to which Ward responded, "Her mom has heard of me? That's awesome."
ZZ gave Gimme Noise a glimpse into her world before her show at the Varsity on Friday night, noting that while her success seems overnight, she has worked long and hard to get to this point.
Born in Pennsylvania, the young Zsuzanna Ward moved to Roseburg, Oregon, when she was six. The singer grew up on a 23-farm in the middle of nowhere but had big dreams of becoming a singer. She got her chance at the age of 13 singing in her dad's blues band. Ward says, "My parents listened to the blues and were really into Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. I really connected to [the blues] growing up."
Wanting to move up in the world, Zsuzanna shortened her name, made demos and CDs in her basement, and sold the CDs in parking lots. Any show that she was able to jump onto, she took on. "I got involved in the local hip-hop scene in Eugene. We would open for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony when they came through," she says. Feeling that she needed to stretch her creativity some more, Ward left for Los Angeles when she was 20 with a plan of not having a plan. "I figured it out as I went. I slept on an air mattress two years, and I booked my own shows. If you want to be an artist, the most important thing is you write your own music and be sincere with it. The more vision you have for yourself, the more belief you have in yourself."
Compared to Adele in sound, ZZ isn't offended when the red-headed singer's name is brought up, explaining it as, "I think people have to compare someone to another artist -- especially when it's something new -- to understand it. It helps people to become familiar with a new artist and put them into perspective. I do hear the Adele comparisons a lot, but I'm not offended at all. She has an incredible voice, and if I'm compared to her, I think it's a great compliment." While she has no reservations about Adele, Ward would rather be lined up with classic artists like Bonnie Raitt and Tom Petty, two vocalists she looks up to.
Although some artists may not be ready for stardom, the young singer certainly is, stating that every day has been a little different. "I've been a little overwhelmed with what my fans have done with this record, being that it's just a few months old. I'm thankful for all of it." With so much riding on her shoulders, she still isn't daunted by expectations. She continues, "I don't know if anyone can ever be ready for fame. I get to travel all of the time, and it's been super fun. I'm ready for it. I am enjoying the experience of putting out my first record and everything that's come along with it. You have to take it one day at a time. If I think about what I am going to be like in three years, that would be self-destructive, so I don't."
ZZ Ward will perform at the Varsity Theater on Friday, February 22, 2013 with Martin Harley.
16+, $12 adv, $14 door, $25 mezzanine seating, 7 pm
This show is sold out.
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