Over her 50-some years in Chicago, Zora Young has sung everything from gospel to R&B to the blues. “I sing what I like to sing,” says the Mississippi native. “It’s not just classical blues. I like it all.”
And while the blues can be low-down, she makes them sound high class on her new album, The French Connection, out in September on the revered local blues and jazz label Delmark Records.
Recorded in France, where Young has built a following with more than 20 tours since the early 1980s, the album finds her accompanied by three different Gallic bands: a sleek soul ensemble, a hard-swinging horn-driven combo, and a murmuring acoustic band.
“That’s the way I want my life to go. I always want to come up with something different,” says Young, whose husky, supple voice stretches out in long purrs and emphatic calls.
Whether singing blues standards, a Bob Dylan country tune, or an Elvis Presley classic, “hopefully it all comes from the heart and soul,” Young says. “That way, it works itself out.”
Photograph: Courtesy of Delmark Records