Blues singer-songwriter ZZ Ward has some incredible collaborations under her belt. Her fluid musical style, that ranges from traditional blues-rock to R&B to contemporary hip-hop, has led her to work with artists like Kendrick Lamar (“Cryin’ Wolf), Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums (“Save My Life”), and Dan Auerbach (“Criminal”), to name a few off her 2012 debut album Til the Casket Drops. Her 2017 sophomore record The Storm adds Gary Clark Jr. (“Ride” from Cars 3) and Oakland’s Grammy-winning artist Fantastic Negrito (“Cannonball”) to her impressive list.
It is all a testament to the artist herself. Reliably expressive and raw in her lyrics and delivery, ZZ (née Zsuzsanna) emotes disappointment in matters of the heart. “All of my favorite artists would tell real stories,” she says. “I wanted to talk about similar things that were close to my heart (on The Storm). Every song became something I experienced. I’ve had my slew of disappointing relationships, times when I was pissed off, heartbroken and time when I felt false senses of euphoria…I wanted to pour all of those emotions into my music, stay true to my roots, and tap into what inspired me in the first place.” Those influences include her father’s (who she grew up playing music with) records, from Muddy Waters and Etta James to Big Mama Thornton.
ZZ Ward begins her bluesy KFOG Private Concert with a pleading “Put the Gun Down,” a passionate “If I Could Be Her,” and break-up ballad “365 Days.” Then…she brings out Fantastic Negrito, and her harmonica. The two launch into a soulful lament, riffing and playing off each other’s baritone and falsettos with impressive ease and spontaneity. It’s a moment that indicates staying power for the musical powerhouse. Catch the entire show above.