Music Mondays: ZZ Ward

She affectionately refers to her music as "dirty shine," but ZZ Ward doesn't want to fit into any one category. Artfully blending blues and hip-hop, this musician earned her stripes laying down hooks in the Oregon rap scene. ZZ was raised on the blues, though, and that soulful sound is even evident on energetic tracks like “Move Like You Stole It.” Her stripped-down performance of the song about hooking up with a rather “dorky” guy was recorded for the Kick Kick Snare Acoustic Session by Aloft Hotels during this year’s SXSW festival in Austin.

Born Zsuzsanna in Pennsylvania, ZZ was brought up in a small town in Oregon. She was just 12 when she started performing in blues bands alongside her father. Although she actively listened to legends like Big Mama Thornton, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, ZZ would also steal her older brother's hip-hop CDs, reveling in the persistent beats and sheer honesty of the lyrics. As a teenager, she often headed to Eugene, Oregon to sing choruses at an underage hip-hop club. The enterprising singer/songwriter landed her big break after being discovered on Myspace. While working on her debut album, due out later this summer, ZZ was actually inspired to produce a mixtape. Eleven Roses features her refreshing take on several hip-hop tracks. From her blues-meets-hip-hop mentality to her uncorrupted stage presence all the way to that subtle sass in her simultaneously smooth and husky voice, ZZ has captured our imagination and captivated our ears.

Watch the video for "Move Like You Stole It" below before heading over to I AM THAT GIRL's YouTube channel. While you're there, don't forget to tune into our Music Mondays playlist, which is updated every week.

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