About ZZ Ward
Playing a raw, powerful blend of blues and hip-hop, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist ZZ Ward took the tropes of roots music and gave them a makeover with an edgy, modern attitude. With a tough but flexible voice that boasts plenty of swagger, her music leans to the rock-oriented side of contemporary blues, but her production choices and arrangements are informed by hip-hop and contemporary R&B, and the mix gives her a style that sets her apart from her peers. Ward's eclectic sound found a significant audience with her first full-length album, 2012's Til the Casket Drops, while 2017's The Storm toned down the hip-hop feel and turned up the R&B.
ZZ Ward was born Zsuzsanna Eva Ward in Abington, Pennsylvania on June 2, 1986. Ward spent her childhood in the small town of Roseburg, Oregon, splitting her listening time between her father's blues collection and her brother's hip-hop records, a blend that would inform her later sound and style. She was singing in her father's blues band by the time she was 12, and by 16 she was performing with R&B and hip-hop acts in Eugene. Moving to L.A. and hoping to break into the West Coast music business, Ward's unique blend of blues, rock, hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul, as well as her multi-instrumental skills (she's proficient on guitar, piano, and harmonica), brought her a recording deal with Boardwalk Entertainment Group and Hollywood Records, and she began work on a debut album. A free mixtape, Eleven Roses, with Ward's interpretations of contemporaneous tracks by other artists, appeared in February of 2012, with an EP, Criminal, following in May. Til the Casket Drops, the completed album, showed up in October that same year. A track from the album, "Put the Gun Down," rose to number 39 on the Alternative Rock charts, while two other tunes, "Last Love Song" and "365 Days," cracked the Top 30 of the Adult Alternative charts.
In 2015, Ward released the four-song EP Love and War, which was intended as a teaser for a 2016 album called This Means War, but the full-length never appeared. Instead, she worked throughout 2016 on the album that became 2017's The Storm. Preceded by the singles "The Deep" (featuring Joey Purp) and "Help Me, Mama," The Storm arrived in June 2017. In 2019, Ward released the first of a series of new tracks with "Sex & Stardust," followed in 2020 by the spiritual contemplation of "The Dark" and the breakup anthem "Break Her Heart." ~ Steve Leggett & Mark Deming
BORNJune 2, 1986