ZZ Ward’s debut album has sold more than a 150,000 copies. In an era when the business of recorded music is a shadow of its former self, that’s impressive.
“Til the Casket Drops,” released in late 2012, stars Ward’s big, soulful voice and a fusion of her biggest influences, blues and hip-hop.
“ ‘Til the Casket Drops’ is such a representation of a point in my life,” the Los Angeles-based Ward said last week. “The fact that it connected with so many people has been life-changing for me.”
Ward applied the confidence she drew from her first album’s success to the making of her upcoming album, “This Means War.”
“For once, I felt like people really wanted to hear my stories,” she said. “I wanted to write new stories to share with people. I can’t wait for my fans to hear them.”
Four of Ward’s new songs are featured on her new EP, “Love and War.” It’s being released Friday, a few days before Ward’s return to New Orleans and the House of Blues on Tuesday.
Releasing an EP is one way Ward can send some new songs to her fans in advance of the March release of her “Til the Casket Drops” follow-up, “This Means War.” Originally, she’d planned to release it in September.
“I felt like things were moving so fast,” Ward said. “I wanted to take a little bit more time, ease my way into the album.”
There’s another good reason for the delay of her second album — momentum for the first album kept building.
“More people kept coming to the shows,” she said. “The festivals got bigger, the numbers got bigger. It was tough to figure out a time to make the next record.”
In addition to the impressive sales of her album debut, placement of Ward’s songs in films and TV programs — such as “The Voice,” “Nashville,” “The View,” “The Good Wife” and “Pretty Little Liars” — has exceeded 100.
“The music scene is always changing, and the way that fans find music is constantly changing,” she said. “A lot of my fans found my music through TV shows and movies. It’s been really great, not to mention going to the movies and hearing my voice over a scene with Jennifer Aniston. It’s like, ‘How is this happening?’ ”
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Oregon, Ward was 12 when she made her professional debut, sharing the stage with her father’s blues band. Her father introduced her to the classic blues of Muddy Waters, Albert King and Robert Johnson. The singer’s big brother brought hip-hop into the house. She melded the two after relocating to Los Angeles.
Ward’s strong, authentic voice is something she’s always had.
“People told me my voice is beyond my years,” she said. “They asked me, ‘Where does that voice come from?’ I don’t know, but over the years I’ve crafted it a lot, because I sing so much. I know how to use it.
“As a vocalist, you’re almost like an athlete. You have to take care of your gift. If you abuse it, it can be taken away. I’ve learned how to take care of it, but it’s in high demand. There are times when I’m like, ‘I don’t even know how I can do all this stuff.’
“People do push you, but it’s up to you to let them know if it’s too much. If your voice goes, then it’s all gone.”