Zora Young has a husky voice that has mellowed over the years like a rare bourbon with a smoky after-bite, the tart sting warm- ing the senses. And she has a thrilling way of sliding up into a note—a skill no doubt honed at the Greater Harvest Baptist church in her youth. Young has mercifully never been a blues growler or screamer. She’s a formidable, honest singer who has always been mellow and patient and strong, a combination that is manifested in her unique vocal style.
Born in West Point, Mississippi like her distant cousin, Howlin’ Wolf, Zora Young came to Chicago at the age of seven. She switched from singing gospel to R&B in her high school years, and in her twenties, she began to mature into a powerhouse blues vocalist, mentored by the great patriarch of piano pickers, Sunnyland Slim. Young also took to the theater stage to perform a musical tribute to Bessie Smith in Chicago with fellow blues women Katherine Davis and the late Valerie Wellington. Zora Young has been nominated for Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2014 at the National Blues Music Awards in Memphis. She has toured the world, but is a particularly big hit in France where in 1981 she made the rst of her 20 tours of that country, and in 1991, her rst recording. Her recorded catalog, which features many of her original compositions, include Travelin’ Light (Deluge, 1991), Learned My Lesson (Delmark, 2000), Tore Up From the Floor Up (Delmark 2005), Sunnyland (Airway, 2009), The French Connection (Delmark, 2009), and she also ap- peared on Delmark’s 55th anniversary live disc It Ain’t Over (2009). Her latest release, Friday Night, with Little Mike and the Tornadoes, was released by Elrob Music in 2016.