April 20, 2024

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Interview with Zakiya Hooker: Bluesman’s Journey – It is to be strong and to love yourself: Videos, new CD cover

Interview with Blues singer Zakiya Hooker. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Zakiya Hooker: – I was born in Detroit, Michigan. What got me interested in music was the fact that there was always music in our home. My dad would practice, and the band would come over to rehearse, there was never a shortage of music and excitement around our home. I thought the band members were too cool. I loved watching my dad and listening to the blues. I always had the passion, but it was just a kid’s dream. When I moved to California, I met Chris James who was a singer and musician. He was the co-founder of a 70’s soul group, Natural Four. He was with Curtis Mayfield on the Curtom label. I started working with him and the dream began to unfold. I never thought of it in monetary terms only that I was getting to live out my dream.

JBN: – Perhaps you have been asked a lot, let me ask, is it difficult to be the daughter of the legendary musician John Lee Hooker, even though you are more of a soul-blues style?

ZH: – It is not difficult being his daughter, it was difficult trying to get people to understand that I am my own person doing my own music the way I feel it as a woman. There will never be another John Lee Hooker.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

ZH: – My sound, and I have become more confident over the years. My music has become more me, whereas in the beginning I would do a cover or someone else’s songs. I write poetry and I did not know how to put it to music. Chris stepped in and put together a stellar group of musicians who were there for me from the start. Later in life I decided to try the guitar so I could put my music together the way I felt it. I am no virtuosos, but I can get the melody and Chris takes it from there and a song evolves. I basically do all originals. If I know the key of the song I can sit in with a band and keep up.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

ZH: – I have become less naïve about the music business. I understand that if they do not accept my music the way I do it, that it is not a reflection of my talent or my music. The music business is a fickle business, and it is even harder if you are black and female.

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

ZH: – The spiritual part is easy, I know that there is a supreme being that watches over me and I carry that faith with me every day. I love working in my yard and staying in touch with my inner self. Dirt, flowers, trees, and insects are my therapy that keep me in touch with God. I am a firm believer that if you take care of your body, it will take care of you. I am not a health fanatic, but I treasure my body and try to keep it strong and healthy. I try to do my exercise and water aerobics at least five days a week.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2024: Zakiya Hooker – Bluesman’s Journey, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

ZH: – I love the concept, because I was witness to the struggle my dad had to endure to follow his dream and never give up. I had written the song a long time ago and put it up. I was going through some of my songs one day and found this faded piece of paper, and the song was reborn. I am just writing songs and if it happens another CD.

Buy from here – New CD 2024

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

ZH: – As I said earlier, Chris knew lots of musicians, so I let him choose them. I had a very international group of musicians who were also my friends and family.

JBN: – What sort of feedback did you receive after it was released from musicians or your friends and family?

ZH: – I received good feedback from the musicians. Family is always biased so I received great feedback from them.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

ZH: – My most awesome memory was my first show with my dad. That was truly the highlight of my career. My stomach was in knots, and I was so nervous I got sick after the show and had to go home.

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

ZH: – In my opinion, Intellect is what you have learned from books. They think too much and are only able to deal with what they have learned from books. Soul is the essence of your life experiences, your upbringing, and your inner self. My father was illiterate, but he was one of the smartest men I knew. Soul was what you heard in his music and the other great bluesmen.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

ZH: – If the standard tunes are good music, and they are, the young people will go back and listen if only to enhance the music they are doing. Good music is good music no matter how old it is or what genre it is. This generation of young folks are curious, innovative and always evolving.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

ZH: – I can only speak for myself, but if you are doing what is your passion, the thing that makes you happy, you have fulfilled your mission here on this earth and your spirit sings and your life is complete.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

ZH: – Fairness and respect for the artform of music and musicians by record companies and club owners.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

ZH: – I listen to all sorts of music, but I usually find myself listening to blues or old school R&B. I am not a big fan of the new music that is out there now.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

ZH: – I would go back to Detroit and start my music career at a much earlier age.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

ZH: – I am a hard-core feminist, so my music is usually geared towards the struggles and troubles of my sisters in the Sisterhood. It is to be strong and to love yourself.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

ZH: – Yes they were very thought provoking. Why did you choose to interview me?

JBN: – Because you have a new CD and when I got acquainted with your music and found out that you are the daughter of my very beloved John Lee Hooker, it was also a great honor for me to do an interview with you. I am willing to spread your music all over Europe with love.

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

ZH: – Yes, I have done several free benefit concerts and some just for friends. If it is for a good cause I am on board.

 

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Interview by Elléa Beauchêne

Zakiya Hooker | The Velvet Note

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