In the midst of a headlining run, powerhouse ZZ Ward is setting stages ablaze. With her mix of blues, rock, and ‘bit of hip-hop’ drive the songstress and musician did just that recently at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in Wilmington, NC.
Touring in support of her second full-length effort The Storm (2017), Ward seemingly channeled the album’s title as she took the outdoor venue’s stage. Throughout her set, Ward’s smoldering vocals, guitar-playing prowess, and magnetism lit up the night.
Here are five reasons why you should catch ZZ Ward live.
5. She channels some of the blues greats
ZZ Ward’s influences include Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Big Mama Thornton and Etta James. Of the latter, Ward told the audience during her Port City performance that she grew up listening, in particular, to “Waiting for Charlie (to Come Home).” The songstress continued, “I thought it would be cool to write an answer to it.” With that, she launched into her ditty “Charlie Ain’t Home,” after belting out a few lines of James’ soulful tune.
4. The emotion
ZZ Ward isn’t afraid to pour her heart out – and it’s evident in her lyrics. Of it she says, “I hope that my stories connect with people out there and help them know they aren’t alone in these struggles. That’s what I can give to the world. Storms come and storms pass, it's how you weather them that defines you and makes you stronger.”
3. Solid material, plus quality collaborations
The singer-songwriter’s latest album, The Storm, debuted No. 1 on Billboard’s Blues chart. What’s more, it’s loaded with heavy-hitting collaborations. Among them, Ward teamed up with Grammy Award winner Fantastic Negrito on “Cannonball,” and Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums on the recognizable “Domino.”
2. She’s a multi-instrumentalist
Not only does she sing and write her own songs, ZZ Ward also plays the guitar and the harmonica. During her recent show, she switched between acoustic guitar and electric guitar throughout the night, at times playfully going head to head with her backing musicians.
1. No frills
ZZ Ward’s on-stage presence is purely genuine. There was no distracting light shows or theatrics – just honest music, fueled by relatable lyrics. Donned in high-waisted black leather shorts, a demure midriff top and a signature wide-brimmed black hat, even Ward’s attire didn’t attempt to upstage the music.
ZZ Ward’s music has been featured in films including We’re The Millers, and in the Disney*Pixar film Cars 3. Ward specifically wrote "Ride" for the latter.